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ROSCOE JAMES IRWIN Lost in a dream


Roscoe James Irwin is a talented composer, trumpeter, arranger and singer hailing from Victoria, and a familiar face to most. Renowned for his work with Australian bands The Cat Empire and The Bamboos, Irwin has also pursued solo work and is currently touring his own brainchild, the cabaret festival show Lost In a Dream: The Musical Life of Chet Baker, set to hit WA as part of the Perth International Jazz Festival on Saturday, November 9 at the State Theatre Centre. Irwin, who will also take part in a free entry ‘In Conversation’ at The Rechabite from 11am that morning, spoke with EMMA PEET. 

Roscoe you’re currently touring the Cabaret Festival show Lost In a Dream about the music and life of Chet Baker, what inspired you to take this on?

Chet’s sound has been a part of my life since I was a young teenager. My uncle played me his recordings when I was about 13 and I was immediately drawn to his deep sense of melody and his haunting vocal tone. I’ve wanted to do this show for so long, but the timing was never right. I was determined for it to be more than the average jazz club Chet tribute. I wanted to create a unique, but somewhat nostalgic world, that people could disappear into for the duration of the show.

What has been the most enjoyable part of the process, creating and performing Lost In a Dream?

Creating the lush, cinematic string arrangements that feature heavily in the show. I love writing for strings, and the sounds of the 1950s California studio orchestras have always resonated with me. It’s all drenched in so much imagery for me. The California sun, the Hollywood haze, cars, bars, LA after dark, etc…

The Bamboos have recently released a new album By Special Arrangement, what was the process like writing and recording this last album?

Lance Ferguson and The Bamboos are such great musicians and dear old friends, and I think this record really shows that they’re more than just your run-of-the-mill funk/soul band. To put out a record that is essentially orchestral in nature (for the most part) was so exciting. Reinventing songs that were once bright, dance floor bangers and re-shaping them into moody, cinematic cuts was something like heaven for me. I had a lot of fun working with Lance and John Castle on the album. It goes to show how good Lance’s songs are that they work in completely different contexts, as well as highlighting how good (singer) Kylie Auldist and the other guests are. Dan Sultan’s version of I Never on the record gives me all the feelings.

The Bamboos are going to be celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band next year, do you guys have anything special planned for this milestone?

There will definitely be some stuff happening, but exactly what that is is still mysterious at this stage. Needless to say, we’re all pretty proud to be part of a band that’s been doing it for that long (without breaking up).

You’ve also been working on a side project with singer Emma Pask called Porchlings. How did this collaboration come into being? And what can we expect from Porchlings in the future? 

Emma is so well known as a jazz singer, but she sounds good singing almost anything. We’ve been friends for a long time, so an album together at some stage was inevitable. We both love singing harmonies and have a love of great folk, and so I guess Porchlings was born from that. It’s come into being mainly as a recording project, but who knows, if people like it, maybe we’ll play some live shows.

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