So what is the “sound of Melbourne”? Local musicians have ideas

Viola player Tamil Rogeon has seen waves of jazz rise and fall since he left Dandenong to haunt the many musical dives of central Melbourne in the mid-90s. originated in the UK and hip-hop was having an impact. His project RAah was inspired by all this in the 2000s. His last album focused on the synthesizer, Son of Nyx, weaves its way through another decade of styles supported by Melbourne’s (usually) thriving live scene.

Viola player Tamil Rogeon.

“Music tends to grow and develop and go to new places when groups of people can spend a lot of time playing with each other,” he says. “Whether it was the John Coltrane quartet or Charlie Parker, these guys were doing long residences, lots of sets, every night playing the same stuff and what do you know?” Besides being geniuses, they developed music.

“I think there is something to be said for bands of musicians to play with each other a lot… I think Melbourne, culturally, may have been able to facilitate this kind of rehearsal and playing. supported and language development between individuals. “

The kind of socio-economic conditions that burden musicians in shared group houses have also been important, he adds, for collectives like Haitus Kaiyote and Surprise Chefs. Even if they are not known, the ecosystem is richer for their well-being. “Being on the pointy end is not the alpha and omega. It’s about being part of a cultural movement, ”says Rogeon. For every revolutionary act, “there is a whole bunch of music and culture behind it that also pushes this forward. It’s a holistic thing.

It’s fair to say that Zimbabwe-born hip-hop artist ZiiMusic is somewhere in this corner. He fully gets the BBC6 definition of Melbourne sound, but most of all he wants to contribute to a broader definition in the future.

Zimbabwe-born, Melbourne-based hip-hop artist ZiiMusic.

Zimbabwe-born, Melbourne-based hip-hop artist ZiiMusic.

“I have this uneasiness when people talk about the Melbourne sound because it caters to a particular demographic of musicians – which is good,” he says. “But until the other demographic gets introduced to this, I think that’s when we’ll see the sound… matured of Melbourne.”

Zii and his band The Experience bring their stories to the fore with a tribute to African jazz legends Hugh Masekela and Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi at this year’s MIJF. He hopes their arrival on the program, and on the agenda of discussions at this year’s Jazz Congress, will help bring another music community into the larger conversation.

“The way we categorized and chose to understand their music has been a limiting factor, because most of these musicians, because of the instruments they play, they are classified as ‘world’ musicians,” he says. .


“I don’t think these categories work for us. Because realistically, when I listen to these artists… the spiritual element of what they do communicates to me like jazz.

“I thought it was important for us to start a relationship with the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, with [this concert] by way of introduction to say ‘hey, look, this is where we come from. This is who we are. And we are actually here to stay ”.

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs from December 2-5.

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