Caulfield resident, Sam McAuliffe, has launched one of the most progressive jazz movements Melbourne has ever seen. The Melbourne Improvisers Collective was created late last year to showcase jazz musicians from all around Victoria. The collective premiers local upcoming jazz talent as well as providing opportunities for the public to hear distinguished musicians play.
McAuliffe, 21, says he decided to form the collective after ongoing frustration at the lack of support for emerging jazz artists in Melbourne. Upon speaking to a number of distinguished professional musicians, it became clear to him that the problem was larger than he first suspected. “I felt that the only way to make these sorts of things happen was to do it myself,” McAuliffe says.
The Melbourne Improvisers Collective provides opportunities for emerging jazz musicians to showcase their original compositions as well as allowing them to play on the same night as highly-regarded professionals in the genre. McAuliffe, a guitarist and student at Monash University, says he deliberately chose a venue that’s not known for its jazz scene as a means of giving the style more exposure. He hopes that “people who may not normally listen to jazz may stumble upon us and enjoy themselves.”
The response to this project has been an unprecedented success. As the nights feature three bands playing in succession, McAuliffe was dubious as to how people would respond to shorter set times. However, audiences have relished the idea of seeing three bands in a night. In addition to this, many performers have commented on the fun of performing in a non-jazz setting. Initial expectations were that the collective would fall apart after a couple of months “but we’re still here,” McAuliffe says. “We’re still getting plenty of applications from all over Melbourne, not only from little guys but lecturers and professionals who just want to have a play.”
In addition to the evening events, the collective has received strong support from Monash University who allow weekly performances in one of the on-campus restaurants. These performances feature Monash students who are studying in the jazz stream of the university’s Bachelor of Music course.
There are no signs of the collective slowing down, with regular performances going ahead, it seems there is no stopping the group. McAuliffe hopes to keep expanding “possibly including a second venue and building things up from there.”
The Melbourne Improvisers Collective hosts events at ‘Gertrude’s Brown Couch’ in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The nights run from 8-11pm and require a $6 entry fee.
For more information, visit the website.