Composer Spotlight

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Many of our concerts feature the work of Australian composers and we throw the spotlight on some of them here.


Lloyd Swanton  “An outstanding and imaginative Australian bassist and composer”                          Billboard Magazine

Bassist, composer, producer, bandleader and radio presenter, fifty three year-old Swanton is one of the most respected and in-demand musicians in the country. Apart from leading The catholics, and co-leading improvising legends The Necks, he has performed with many of the cornerstones of Australian music: Clarion Fracture Zone, the Bernie McGann Trio, Vince Jones, the Dynamic Hepnotics, Tim Finn, The Benders, Stephen Cummings, Wendy Matthews, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Alister Spence Trio, Gyan and Michael Leunig, Paul Capsis, Phil Slater Quartet, The Vampires and The Mighty Reapers, to name a few.

Lloyd Swanton2Lloyd appears on over ninety albums, has produced four ARIA Award winners with Bernie McGann and two with The Necks, and has played on many others. With The Necks he is also recent winner of three APRA Awards, and two Australian Jazz Awards. He is a three-time winner of Best Bassist in the Australian Jazz and Blues Awards, and with The catholics, has won the Mo Award for Best Jazz Group. His score (with The Necks) to the highly acclaimed feature film The Boys was nominated for an Australian Film Institute Award, as well as an ARIA Award for the soundtrack album. His score to the short film The Beat Manifesto was a multiple award winner. Over eighty of his compositions appear on albums by some of Australia’s most respected names.

Swanton tours extensively overseas with The Necks, and other ensembles, and has made countless visits to Europe, as well as Canada, the USA, Mexico, India, Cuba, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and Thailand. He is also in great demand in Australia as a bassist for visiting international artists, including Nat Adderly, Dewey Redman, Jimmy Witherspoon, Barney Kessel, Clifford Jordan, Sting, Margie Evans, Andrew Hill, Billy Harper, Sheila Jordan, Darrell Grant, Gary Bartz, Phillip Johnston, Jim Black, Tobias Delius, Marilyn Crispell, Molly Ringwald and (with The Necks) Brian Eno.

Lloyd teaches, has given masterclasses at institutions throughout Australia, and also hosts “Mixed Marriage”, a very popular weekly show on Sydney’s Eastside Radio 89.7, which looks at crossings of jazz with other musical styles.

In his spare time, Lloyd is an avid follower of the game of Australian Football, and a keen collector of Australian Aboriginal art, ice crushers, modernist ceramics, and books on Fellini. He is also gathering historical information on the horrific WWII Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Ambon, where his uncle Stuart died, and on his distant relative Theodore Deck, a leading name in 19th Century French ceramics.

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Composer Spotlight on Gary Daley

Gary Daley is a pianist, composer and teacher with nearly 30 years experience playing in performance or recordings with many of Australia’s leading contemporary musicians.  He graduated with honours from the Sydney University Music Department where he studied with Peter Sculthorpe.  Gary then studied with the leading jazz musician Roger Frampton, a significant mentor.

Gary plays acoustic and electric piano, organ and piano accordion and his G Daley in hat1work on the accordion provides some unique textures within a number of contemporary jazz/improvised bands and in his own compositions.

Gary is currently a member of: The catholics, Greening from Ear to Ear, and the children’s ensemble Lah-Lah’s Big Live Band.  Other artists he has performed with include Renee Geyer, Lily Dior, Steve Clisby, Adrian Cunningham, Doug Parkinson, The Falls, Kristin Beradi, .  Through the ‘90s he was in the resident band at The Basement, in Sydney, he has appeared at most major venues and festivals throughout Australia and in Japan.

Some Compositions

Sanctuary, a one hour worked in six linked parts, was commissioned by Live at the Village and premiered by LATV in late 2011.

Performing Sanctuary at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, July 2012

Performing Sanctuary at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, July 2012


Gary’s inspiration for this work came from experiencing overwhelming joy at the birth of his first grand-child, while simultaneously living through the journey of his mother suffering from Alzheimers disease; working to protect and comfort her and through the music, creating a sanctuary at her most vulnerable time.

Willow Tree was premiered at the first Live at the Village concert, October 2009 by Sandy Evans, Kristin Berardi, Lloyd Swanton, Nic Cecire and Gary Daley.  A beautiful evocation of landscape this multi-layered 14 minute work left the audience stunned by its beauty and complexity.

In 2002 an ABC sponsored album of Gary’s original music World View, played by his band Heavy Weather, was released to strong acclaim in performances and festivals, and gained extensive national airplay.  This album is in the improvised contemporary jazz tradition.

  In the Palm of Your Hand, an hour long, five part gospel-jazz work was the result of a commission from the St Paul’s Grammar School, Cranebrook in 2004.   Performed by Gary Daley, Steve Clisby (solo voice), Toby Hall, Jess Ciampa, Richard Maegraith, Ben Waples, Ben Daley, Voice Mail (choir of St Paul’sGrammar) Cathy Jarman conductor.  The work was met with standing ovations at a small number of festivals and events in 2005 and 2006.

The first two shows of 2014 are our Composer Spotlight series


February – Brendan Gallagher

April – Gary Daley

A big thanks to APRA who are supporting these concerts.


Composer Spotlight on Brendan Gallagher

Double Dose of Gallagher – The Gold Coast Bulletin, September 26, 2013, by  Suzanne Simonot

A SURE-FIRE way to stand out in today’s musical crowd, double albums attract double the attention they used to.  Brendan Gallagher laughs.  He can’t argue he’s enjoying a flying start for his latest solo release, the double album Wine Island, which brings him to the Coast for a show at The Soundlounge tomorrow night.

“As a musician, you always try to figure out how you can make enough money to make records,” he says.   “You have all these ideas you have to work on.  At the moment, I’m liking what I do.  I don’t subscribe to that Antipodean bullshit that once you’re 30 you’re f…ed.

“As artists get older, if you’ve learned from your experiences, you should get better,”

In GaIIagher’s case, wisdom has been gleaned from 30 years of first-hand experience in almost every aspect of music.  He’s a two-time ARIA winner, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, piano, drums, percussion and bouzouki), singer and songwriter (Secret Country, The Men Who Ran Away From The Circus), producer, engineer and mixer – (he’s twiddled the knobs on more than 20 albums), author (he’s up to the third edition of his 1994 guitarist’s book, The Open Tuning Chord Book For Guitar owned by everyone from David Bowie to Peter Buck and PJ Harvey), composer (shorts by Rachel Perkins and Warwick Thornton, TV docos and Aussie film Subdivision) and sometime music teacher/ambassador.  Anything be hasn’t done? He says he’s contemplated crowd-sourcing funds to make music, but is yet to take the plunge.

“I have mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I think if you’re going to do something musically, you should take the risk and put your money literally where your mouth is – make a double album,” he deadpans.

“You should take a risk because that’s what you do.   People close to me have been saying ‘you gotta do it’ because it’s about funding and building a tribe.”

With Jimmy Little 2001

With Jimmy Little 2001

And therein, says GaIlagher, lies the conundrum in being Brendan.  Award-winning frontman of Karma County, Gallagher worked closely with the late indigenous musician Jimmy Little (he wrote Little’s hit Messenger) and has recorded with David Bowie but is used to people knowing/loving his music, not its creator.

”What other people tell me…” he drawls, as if waiting for a drumroll, “is I’m known in the industry but not in the general public so much.  People get confused because, is it Jimmy Little or (his side project) The Dead Marines.”

And that’s not all.  There’s also Millionaire$, Gallagher’s indie supergroup with David McCormack (Custard), Jim Elliott (Cruel Sea) and Michael Galeazzi (Karma County) and B!G Brendan with (Reels drummer) John Boy Bliss.

“I’m wearing too many hats and I don’t have any commercial traction.  I get told that a lot of people apparently know my music but don’t know that it’s me.”

First hand, in fact.  Gallagher recently enlisted the help of a digital strategist: “He was a 30-something guy.  He seemed interested, checked out my website and said I’ll get back to you …  (boom tish!).   When he got back to me he said: ‘I know your music, I just didn’t know that was you’.

“I’ve experienced this before.  People come up to me at gigs and say, ‘you know that Secret Country song you played, who wrote it?’  And I say ‘I wrote it.  It’s mine’.”

Still, he’s not complaining.  Gallagher is particularly grateful for the role the ABC has played in helping take his consummate compositions to national audiences, both young (Triple J) and old (Radio National) – even if they don’t always know who he is.

ABC Radio, music aficionados and fans have also embraced new disc(s) Wine Island, a funky, bluesy and gritty collection with traces of country.

Topped off with Gallagher’s signature wit – the title track is about inflating a wine cask bladder into a “silver pillow” – the album oozes songcraft.

“I never really subscribed to the idea you do what the market wants.  You do what you want,”   GaIlagher says,

“I had couple of different sorts of songs percolating in my mind.  I thought, ‘I could do something with these littIe ditties’.  They were catchy and fun and reminded me of early rock rhythms – like (US indie rock duo) The Goons.

“The other side – I always have a few songs in the bank.   When an idea turns up, you run with it.  I’ve always liked those ideas of interesting little sub-situations and songcraft – like Jimmy Webb.  I had that kind of stuff and thought I can’t put these two kinds of music on the same record.”

wine island coverHence the double.  Gallagher calls the rockin’ Disc I (Bianco) a nod to his formative years as a player and says Disc 2 (Rosso) sits in a more gentle, spacious world.  ‘No one does double albums,” GaIlagher says, proud and defiant.   Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Is there such a thing as too much music?

“Yes.  And there’s a lot of stuff parading as music,” Gallagher says.

“It may be an elitist view but its plain as the nose on my face that the entry level into the (music) business is very low at the moment.

“There’s only so many people who are any good at this,” GaIlagher declares.

Easy to say when you’re one of them!

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The Spotlight is on Jeremy Rose and Nick Garbett                                                            Their band The Vampires are coming to Springwood.  May 31st 2012ton in May.  We are grateful to APRA for their support of the Composer Spotlight series.  Check the Concert Dates tabs.

When The Vampires released their third album last year the critics raved.  John McBeath in The Australian hailed the “masterful compositions by altoist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett.”

Their music has been described as sunny, infectious, irresistibly catchy, soulful and inventive and for composers barely 30 years of age, they have already packed a lot in.

Jeremy Rose runs his own record label, composes and plays saxophone with a number of bands, while also a PhD student.   His parents exposed him to world music and jazz even before he began studying the piano, at the age of six.  Their record collection included Indian classical music, folk and classical, which appears to have developed a wide appreciation in the young Jeremy.

Jeremy Rose

On a recent overseas trip Jeremy Rose visited Cuba where he played in a jazz club with the local musicians and he also worked with some Cuban composers.  On that trip also went to Greece to study the complex micro-tonal techniques of the Cologne-based New Zealand sax player Hayden Chisholm.

A constant restlessness it appears drives his continual study and he has sought out mentors in London, New York and Oslo – he studied composition in Norway with Geir Lysne in 2006, having studied at the Sydney Conservatorium with saxophonist Dale Barlow, trumpeter Phil Slater, pianists Judy Bailey and Mike Nock.

With eight albums released, as either band leader or co-leader, he maintains respect for jazz tradition while drawing inspiration from a diverse range of artists including Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Astor Piazolla, and Karaikudi Mani.

His doctorate supervisor is the renowned composer Matthew Hindson who recently said of Rose, in a Sydney University magazine, that he is “Very cross-genre musically and very cross-cultural in his approach, moving between different disciplines and styles ably.”

Awarded the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the year in 2009, Jeremy’s reputation is solidly building.  “His compositions stand out from the pack” (Sydney Morning Herald), “Is developing into a significant Australian voice” (

His projects include The Vampires, The Strides, Compass Quartet and Chiba and he has composed for the Sirens Big Band, Ku-rin-gai Philharmonic, Compass Quartet and SSO Fellowship.

Co-leading The Vampires is trumpeter Nick Garbett.  He and Jeremy Rose play brilliantly together.  Reviewing their latest CD Garfish (Earshift) for the Sydney Morning Herald in August 2012 John Shand wrote:

“The Vampires are sinking their teeth deeper into something all their own.  The Sydney band’s breezy Caribbean flavoured rhythms grow ever more relaxed… the harmonies between Jeremy Rose’s alto saxophone and Nick Garbett’s trumpet become ever-more wistful.  It is this juxtaposition of blitheness and pensiveness that really sets the band apart.  Sometimes the horns have a solemnity usually associated with brass bands, even as the brass and drums caper around on those sparse, reggae-tinged rhythms.  Elsewhere the horns amplify the undercurrent of sheer fun.”

Nick Garbett has made several trips to New York and South America since graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium nearly a decade ago.   In New York he studied with artists including Clark Terry, Avishai Cohen and Cuong Vu.   He says he is inspired by trumpet players with huge sounds and presence such as Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, and Miles.  He also shows a wider interest such as in the Nigerian, Fela Kuti’s band.

Another inspiration comes from the area in which he grew up and still lives, on the coast south of Sydney, just past the Royal National Park.  Throughout Nick’s childhood his father was listening to jazz but it wasn’t until his late high school years that he began to play this style.  A mate was asked to play drums in a jazz band that had started at the Wollongong Conservatorium, he also played with the band and jazz just got under his skin.

In 2010 Nick gained a place in the National Jazz Awards from a very strong field of Australian and overseas contestants.  Judged at the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, this annual gong is for young jazz players under 35 years of age, and like the Bell award, even a place getter recognition is a very significant achievement.

Since Nick and Jeremy teamed up, in their student days, their interests have diverged from a purely jazz approach. They are also both in the Reggae/Afrobeat band The Strides.  Nick teaches at the Wollongong Conservatorium which has a stellar range of jazz teachers.  He has performed with the Mike Nock Group, is a member of the Colombian Afro Rock & Roots band Watussi, and has toured extensively here and overseas.

Matthew Hindson said about this blending of cultures and musical idioms, “That is what music is about today.”

With such talented young musicians and composers coming through, the future is looking very bright indeed – not least for May 31st, when The Vampires play for Live at the Village in Springwood. 

Our last COMPOSER SPOTLIGHT was in November 2011

Stephen Magnusson

Stephen Magnusson writes some of the most beautiful music anywhere.  It can be extremely delicate, technically complex and somehow it achieves a distinctive Australian contemporary sound.

The Melbourne based Magnusson is one of the most accomplished and versatile guitarists working in Australia today.  With his new band MAGNET he is launching an album of the same title in November, and travelling up from Melbourne to perform for Live at the Village in Springwood.

MAGNET gathers four kindred spirits from different sides of the world, four different but intertwined musical lives.  Together they make a music which has been described as of “immediate raw beauty  bristling with humour and brawn, and overflowing with grace…”

Stephen has composed the music on the album with input from band members in a couple of the pieces.  From a near silent, extremely beautiful start, the 13 tracks build to some quite wild moments with a range of rhythms and a good dose of humour along the way.

As a child Stephen wanted to be a musician and a magician.   At the age of three he was given a ukulele – a guitar at six.  “I learnt a few magic tricks” he said, “but then I realised that music had that magical quality I was looking for.  I threw away my pack of cards and picked up a plectrum.  That’s the truth.”

A precocious talent, in 1986 at the age of 16 he studied at the Victorian College of the Arts, one of the two music conservatoriums in Melbourne.  In an interview with the on-line Arts Hub bulletin he reflects it was very young: “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I kept practicing and improved.  The age thing also had its advantages in that nobody wanted to hang with me so I had more time to practice.”

The practice paid off and he has performed with a galaxy of musicians including Charlie Haden, Ricki Lee Jones, Vince Jones, Sinead O’Connor, John Cale, Gurrumul Yunupingu, Paul Kelly, Mike Nock and many more.  He is a member of Paul Grabowsky’s Australian Art Orchestra among other groups.  Last year, with Katie Noonan and Zac Hurren, the Elixar trio, he received an ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album.

In the 1990s Stephen headed to Europe to soak up some new influences and in ’97 was appointed to the staff of The Academy of Contemporary Music in Zurich where he met his long time collaborator the Argentinian drummer Sergio Beresovsky.  A member of MAGNET, Stephen describes Sergio, who is still based at Zurich although in Australia for the album launch performances, as one of his inspirations.

Stephen gained rave reviews in Europe and was awarded two grants through the Swiss Arts Council POP KREDIT.  On return to Melbourne late in 2000 he tied for first place in the National Jazz Award at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival

Sharing that Wangaratta gig was trumpeter Eugene Gall, also a long time collaborator with Stephen.  In MAGNET the mastery of his instrument is a delight to hear, it’s poised, eloquent, sometimes adventurous and sometimes restrained.

Vocalist Carl Pannuzzo completes the MAGNET line up.  His voice is very much part of the ensemble sound, primal and beautiful, and sometimes soaring above with overwhelming emotion.  Drawing musicians at the height of their powers together, who have a deep understanding of each other’s way of working with around 20 years playing here and there, in different places, Stephen has created a great new ensemble that speaks a common language.

The Composer Spotlight concerts presented by Live at the Village at Springwood are supported by the Australasian Performing Right Association, the body that distributes royalties for Australian music.

MAGNET: Friday 23rdNovember – 8.00pm,  Presbyterian Hall, 160 Macquarie Rd, Springwood, NSW.  Tickets:  $30/$20 concession From the Turning Page Bookshop, Springwood or phone the shop 4751 5171

Live at the Village’s COMPOSER SPOTLIGHT concerts are assisted by the Australasian Performing Right Association which looks after the copyright interests of composers.

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