Fast Five with James Sherlock
James Sherlock is a jazz guitarist, composer, arranger and educator. Since releasing his first solo guitar album in 2009, he’s toured internationally in his duo with vocalist Kristin Berardi over several years with a European tour culminating at the Montreux Jazz Festival as the opening act for George Benson and Al Jarreau. Back home in Melbourne he’s worked with Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Orchestra, Katie Noonan, Barney McAll, Megan Washington, Joe Camilleri, Peter Knight just to name a few. Next month James partners with bassist Ben Hanlon for an intimate concert that melds jazz standards, classical re-imaginings, original tunes and improvisations in the Salon.
1. Why did you choose jazz?
I studied classical guitar at the Queensland Conservatorium which was great, but I prefer the interaction of jazz performance, especially small group playing and especially duo. My parents listened to a lot of different music as I was growing up, classical music, the Beatles, and quite a lot of jazz, the recording that they used to listen to which got me interested in jazz guitar was a Julie London album called ‘Julie is her Name’ with Barney Kessel on guitar.
2. Tell us about your chosen instrument.
I have a reasonably new instrument for me, I took a special trip to Tokyo to go the greatest jazz guitar shop in the world. I went with some other Australian guitarists and we spent two 12 hour days playing every single guitar that we thought we might like, which was such an amazing experience in itself, and in the end the choice was quite easy for me.
3. What are you listening to right now?
American guitarist Joe Cohn.
4. What do you love about Melbourne?
There is a very nice group of jazz players here and good music venues. I enjoy the variety of musicians I get to play with as well as going to hear lots of interesting gigs. I like the food and coffee too. One of my favourite places at the moment is the amazing Korean grocery shop near my house.
5. Where are you favourite places to perform and record?
Anytime I play at Melbourne Recital Centre, and I’m not just saying that. It’s a special venue. I’m also grateful for my weekly Wednesday gig with the band BopStretch. I have a difficult relationship with recording jazz. I enjoy the freedom of live performance, in my opinion the best improvising comes from being deeply involved in the spontaneous music-making process, which means taking risks; it’s much harder to take risks when the recording light is on!
Bonus Question: You’re playing with bassist Ben Hanlon next month. What is one thing you can tell us about Ben that he may not reveal himself?
He knows a lot about video games for a grown man…
Ben Hanlon & James Sherlock Duo
Tuesday 4 April 7pm, Salon
Listen to James Sherlock’s recordings here
Want to discover more? Read our #CoffeeConversation with Ben Hanlon here