MELVE From blue note to boomerangs

Perth jazz group MELVE were formed in 2018 by five newly graduated WAAPA students who were seeking an outlet to write and perform original jazz music together. Now after over a year of weekly busking gigs that have developed their penchant for flair and improvisation, the quintet are set to preview their upcoming album with a special show at Rhubarb Records Vinyl Cafe in Leederville on Friday, September 20. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with pianist Austin Salisbury to find out how the group’s love of 60s Blue Note jazz musicians influenced their style, how they came to record their first single Boomerang with WAYJO and what we can expect from the album and on the night.

What’s the story of MELVE to date? How did the group come together?

The five of us have been working together in a bunch of different projects for a long time, but MELVE has been around since the beginning of 2018. We’d just finished studying at WAAPA, and started the band as an outlet to write and play original jazz music. We had busking gigs every Monday at the Inglewood Night Markets and I think that’s where we really got our sound together as a band. From there we’ve just kept writing and playing together and seeing where it takes us.

Throughout the year you have been playing a tribute show MELVE plays Blue Note where you pay homage to the Blue Note label. Does this type of jazz music, and your experience playing it live influence your music?​​

The Blue Note show was something we’d been wanting to do for a long time. For most of us, it’s the music that got us into jazz in the first place – particularly the 60’s stuff like Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and Art Blakey – so it was really great to put this show together and get to play it live. I think it has really informed our original music too, in one way or another. Even though our original stuff has a very different aesthetic, we’re always going back and to those Blue Note albums and trying to keep some of that tradition in our music.

You recorded the first single Boomerang with WAYJO (WA Youth Jazz Orchestra) at His Majesty’s Theatre. What was that experience like and was that something you were looking to do any more of on the upcoming album?

We were really lucky to get the opportunity to do the live recording. It was funny timing for us, as our original sax player Tom had just moved to Sydney, and this was one of our first gigs with Sean, our current sax player. We played two nights – testing out a whole bunch of new material. The sets felt really good and after listening back, we decided to release Boomerang as a single. There’s a particular energy on live jazz recordings that’s totally different to studio recordings, so it was great to capture that.

And how about the album more generally, what can we expect from it and how is it different from your previous releases?

We’ve been taking our time putting this album together, I think that is the main difference with this one. When we did the EP last year, it was about capturing our “live’” sound. We got into a room and recorded six tracks in a day, no more than three takes of each. We’re really proud of the music on the EP, but it is pretty raw. With the album, we’ve spent the last year writing and workshopping the tunes, starting with 15 or so and gradually refining them to the 10 that will make the album. We’ve got more studio time this time around and we’re really excited to work with Brodie Stewart, the recording engineer. We’re hoping to create something really well thought-out and refined.

To tease the upcoming album, you’re performing a preview show at Rhubarb Records. What made you decide to do a preview?

The Rhubarb Records show is all about momentum. We’ve spent heaps of time writing and workshopping the music, now in the lead up to the recording session we wanted a chance to play through the material live. Nothing polishes a set more than performing it for a crowd. We just want to get a good vibe on all the tunes and roll with that as we head into the studio, and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than Rhubarb.

With some jazz music there is an element of improvisation, especially with live performances. Have your songs for the album been finalised, or will we see some of the songs being created in the moment?

Improvisation is a big part of all our tunes. We’ve been trying to write songs that always have room in them for spontaneity and musical interaction. I think it keeps the music fresh for us and exciting for the listeners.

Who else is playing with you at the preview and what kind of night can we look forward to?

We’re excited to have some other great acts on the bill at Rhubarb. Marc Osborne Quartet put out a beautiful record last year called People, so it will be great to hear some of those tunes. Marc’s been on the scene in Perth for a long time and writes fantastic music. We’re also lucky to be joined by Matt Gudgeon Trio. If you haven’t heard him, he’s a phenomenal young guitarist and has a really great trio sound. We’re really excited about the whole night, stoked to have such great bands supporting us at Rhubarb Records. It is such a warm space and a great intimate little venue, so we really appreciate Dylan and the crew having us there.

Comments are closed.