Author Identifiers

Maximillian Wickham
ORCID: 0000-0003-3633-2608

Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (Honours)

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Jeremy Greig

Field of Research Code

190407

Abstract

This dissertation analyses the playing style of Australian jazz saxophonist Julien Wilson. More specifically, the investigation focuses on his recordings with the Julien Wilson Trio – arguably Wilson’s best known and most original group – featuring Wilson on tenor saxophone, Stephen Grant on piano accordion, and Stephen Magnusson on nylon-string and electric guitars. Although Wilson has received many accolades throughout his career and has been highly lauded by critics, fans and fellow musicians, there is very little academic research investigating his playing style. This dissertation seeks to address this imbalance through an analysis of Wilson’s recordings with his most distinctive original group.

The analysis is founded on transcriptions of Wilson’s performances of his original compositions ‘Beautiful Accident’, from the album While You Were Sleeping (2006) and ‘Trout River’, from Swailing (2013). The recordings have been analysed through the filters of melodic/harmonic improvisational devices, rhythmic improvisational devices, and timbral manipulation/inflection. Excerpts of each transcription have been included throughout the analysis to highlight the techniques Wilson employs in performance and improvisation. In addition, a semi-structured interview with Wilson has been conducted and his responses used to illuminate the findings of the analysis.

It is hoped that this dissertation will add to the relatively new field of research concerning Australian jazz through the discussion of one of Australia’s most distinctive and highly regarded musicians. This investigation may also aid other jazz musicians in developing their improvisational abilities and in finding approaches to performing in ensembles with non-conventional instrumentation. It is hoped that this analysis will aid other saxophonists in developing their capabilities through the study of Wilson’s highly expressive and melodic approach to the tenor saxophone.

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