JAZZMAN JAMIE RETUNS
Picture: Marcus Whisson THE freedom of expression at the heart of jazz beguiled a young Jamie Oehlers into the genre.
Now one of Australia’s leading musicians, he continues to revel in the joys of nonconformity every time he picks up the saxophone.
“With jazz you can improvise; it’s not the same every time,” Oehlers explained.
“You can make it your own and make it feel different every time you play.”
Oehlers doesn’t recall what led him to the saxophone at the age of 12.
His mother says his fascination started when he was just five.
“I got drawn into it and just happened to be going to a high school that had a lot of great young jazz musicians attend- ing and they inspired me to really want to get better at it,” Oehlers said.
“And a lot of those people are professional jazz musicians now.”
The instrumentalist recently returned from New York where he recorded his latest album (out in September) with famous US jazz artists drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers.
After performing at the Perth International Jazz Festival (PIJF) this month, Oehlers will return to the Big Apple to mix and master the release.
“I have a deep fondness for New York – it’s the home of modern jazz.
“All the cutting players are living there and working hard there, inspiring there,” he said.
“I’ve been visiting since I was 17. It has changed a lot but remains city.”
Oehlers shared his thoughts on the Perth jazz scene. “Since The Ellington Jazz Club opened (2009) it has definitely flourished, but Perth has always had a really creative scene,” he said.
“I grew up here and before I moved away I remember thinking that everybody else in Sydney, Melbourne and New York etc were all going to be amazing so I’d better work really hard and ensure that when I got out there I was on top of my game.
“And then I went away and discovered that it’s a big spectrum out there in all the cities. There are great players but not everybody is great.”
Oehlers performs in the Jazz Quarter section of the PIJF at Brookfield Place, Perth on May 31.