We are fam­ily

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - SALLY BROWNE First Seed Ripen­ing is out now

THE fam­ily that plays to­gether, as the say­ing goes, stays to­gether.

It’s cer­tainly true for ARIA-win­ning singer Katie Noo­nan and her hus­band, lauded sax­o­phon­ist Zac Hur­ren who, among their many other mu­si­cal en­deav­ours, form two thirds of jazz trio Elixir.

While tour­ing some­times keeps them apart – Noo­nan re­cently toured with clas­si­cal gui­tarist Karin Schaupp – it also brings them to­gether.

As well as the many other projects she fronts from Ge­orge, the band she started with brother Ty­rone, to Skin, her solo al­bum, or new band The Cap­tains, Elixir has al­ways been bub­bling away in the back­ground, a mu­si­cal respite.

This month the trio – the other mem­ber be­ing Stephen Mag­nus­son ( all pic­tured) – re­leased an al­bum, First Seed Ripen­ing, six years af­ter the last.

Noo­nan and Hur­ren have been mar­ried for six years and been to­gether for 12. They have two boys, Dex­ter and Jonah.

Theirs is a love af­fair that be­gan when they met as stu­dents at the Queens­land Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic.

It was one of those mo­ments of which mem­o­ries, and movies, are made. They were pass­ing each other in the hall and both looked back over their shoul­der to check the other out. ‘‘ We did a dou­ble take,’’ Hur­ren says. ‘‘ We did the full thing where we turned around,’’ Noo­nan says. They both fin­ish: ‘‘ And caught each other check­ing each other out.’’

‘‘ He was like, ‘ Whoa, that chick’s got huge hair’,’’ Noo­nan jokes. Hur­ren laughs: ‘‘ I thought she was a hot­tie.’’

The pair took an ad­vanced har­monic the­ory course to­gether. ‘‘ I re­mem­ber hear­ing Katie singing and I thought, ‘ holy sh--’. That’s when I first re­alised not all singers were sh--,’’ Hur­ren laughs.

Noo­nan had moved from the clas­si­cal course, in­spired by her opera-singing mother, Maggie Noo­nan, to jazz.

Hur­ren ad­mits to be­ing a mu­si­cal snob. Apart from lis­ten­ing to AC/ DC and NWA at 13, when he heard Count Basie at 14, he didn’t lis­ten to any­thing else again.

It was a mu­tual ed­u­ca­tion, be­cause it was through Hur­ren that Noo­nan dis­cov­ered the depths of mod­ern jazz.

Since their early start as mu­si­cians, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the ‘‘ Con’’, Noo­nan and Hur­ren have been lucky and tal­ented enough not to have done any­thing else. Hur­ren reg­u­larly plays in his group the Zac Hur­ren Trio.

Noo­nan has ex­plored nu­mer­ous projects, the lat­est of which, the band The Cap­tains, re­leased a record, Em­peror’s Box, last year. But the pair have al­ways con­sid­ered them­selves part of Elixir.

So what’s it like play­ing in a band with your other half?

‘‘ It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter to ask the third wheel, Stephen,’’ Noo­nan says.

‘‘ For me, mu­sic and fam­ily makes per­fect sense be­cause mu­sic-mak­ing comes from a place of hon­esty and love and all that stuff which comes eas­ily with my hus­band.’’

They rarely fight and make a habit of be­ing open and hon­est with each other.

The cou­ple also have a fresh hon­esty with each other when it comes to their mu­sic.

‘‘ Zac is pretty much the only per­son whose ears I trust,’’ Noo­nan says.

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