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West Australian jazz saxophonist Jamie Oehlers recorded his latest album, The Burden of Memory, in New York, thanks to a Creative Development Fellowship from the Department of Culture and the Arts. Perth audiences can sample this labour of love when he plays The Ellington in December.

What drew you to the saxophone originally?

Well I did grow up in the 80s, and the saxophone was on pretty much everything then! I was really drawn to the sound of it, and as a kid I thought it looked pretty cool – it went from there.

How would you describe live jazz to someone who’s never caught a performance before?

Live jazz is spontaneous, energetic and creative. It can be many things, and for people who like to be surprised, jazz is the perfect music. A lot of people say, “I don’t get jazz”. My answer to them is always, you don’t have to understand it, just allow it to make you feel something. I think that can be said for anything considered to be an artform.

What can Perth fans expect from you and your quartet at The Ellington Jazz Club?

We’ll be playing music from the album and a few other things. I tried to write material that had strong melodies, memorable grooves and sections for all of the band to be featured on. For people who haven’t seen (pianist) Paul Grabowsky play, he will blow your mind. It’s well worth the adventure.

Jamie Oehlers, The Ellington Jazz Club, Dec 20.

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