PhD student and musician Jeremy Rose vamps it up

29 November 2012

Despite his passing resemblance to the Twilight star Robert Pattinson, saxophonist Jeremy Rose is quick to clarify that his band The Vampires predates our current cultural obsession with the creatures of the night.

"The name comes from the musical term 'vamp', which is a repeating bass pattern or short set of chords," says Rose, a founder and composer with the Vampires, who is currently studying for a PhD at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM).

"A lot of the early Vampires compositions used vamps, and at the same time we were looking for a non-traditional name for a jazz group - something other than 'The Jeremy Rose Quartet'."

When he's not studying for his doctorate Rose runs his own record label, composes and performs for one of his numerous other musical projects, and blogs on his eponymous website about his trips to Greece to play Balkan brass music, or to the Dominican Republic for a stint of volunteer work.

Now the 28-year-old will be soon be updating followers about trips performing around Australia, after he received two grants for national tours from the Federal Government's Contemporary Music Touring Program. One grant will support a regional Australia tour by the Vampires, and another will put petrol in the tank for another one of his projects, the Afrobeat, reggae, jazz eight-piece ensemble The Strides.

"This is an amazing opportunity to connect with regional audiences and to take original music on the road," says Rose, who received the 2009 Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year.

When he takes to the road next year with the Vampires he will be accompanied by SCM graduates Nick Garbett (trumpet), Alex Boneham (double bass) and Alex Masso (drums).

Jeremy Rose's PhD thesis will try to unearth what he thinks is a particularly Australian character reflected in the local jazz scene. [Image: Karen Steains]
Jeremy Rose's PhD thesis will try to unearth what he thinks is a particularly Australian character reflected in the local jazz scene. [Image: Karen Steains]

In February 2013 he will also need to find time for a residency at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, where The Strides will spend an intensive week collaborating and writing music for a new album after receiving another grant, this time from the Australia Council. The residency will include a public concert, as well as workshops with local high schools in the region, one of Sydney's most disadvantaged.

The renowned composer Matthew Hindson, Rose's doctorate supervisor, is full of praise for his talent, and the very catholic way he keeps building musical knowledge and skills. "He is very cross-genre musically and very cross-cultural in his approach, moving between different disciplines and styles ably. That is what music is about today."

While he is constantly thinking globally, Rose's PhD thesis will try to unearth what he thinks is a particularly Australian character reflected in the local jazz scene. "I'm trying to show the Australian identity is clearly evident not merely in the way the music sounds, but the way we create music," says Rose.

Pragmatism, mateship and eclecticism - drawing from musical styles outside the jazz paradigm, including from non-western countries such as India, the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as Europe - are all qualities he sees in the way jazz music is practised here.

Raised in Sydney by a visual arts teacher mother and architect father, he learnt classical music from the age of six. "I was always surrounded by music and by many different musical styles from my parents' record collections, from Indian classical music, to folk and jazz and classical music," he recalls.

His interest in exploring diverse music styles extended to a recent trip to Greece to study the complex micro-tonal techniques developed by the innovative saxophone player, the Cologne-based New Zealander Hayden Chisholm. On the same trip he also visited Cuba, working with local composers and performing with local musicians in a jazz club.

The fruits of all of this researching, travelling, composing and performing can be heard on records released through his label Earshift records, and directly via videos posted on websites for The Vampires and The Strides. "Through technology such as the internet, and particularly social media, artists are able to connect with audiences in so many different ways and also establish long-term fan bases," notes Rose.

To hear The Vampires or The Strides live during their regional tours, look out for 2013 tour dates on their websites.

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 0478 303 172; +61 2 9351 1584

Email: 59520432685a1025080121053c3114201440333644412747