The prestigious 2023 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, along with its esteemed $21,000 prize, was awarded to Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist, clarinet-specialist, and composer Phillippa Murphy-Haste in a thrilling playoff at Pier 2/3, ACO on Saturday, September 2nd. This award marks a significant milestone in her promising career, recognizing her exceptional talent and innovative approach to jazz.

The competition featured three outstanding finalists, Theo Carbo, Sam Gill, and Phillippa Murphy-Haste, who each delivered distinctive and creative performances that left the audience in awe. 

The evening, compered by Michelle Hannah, also featured a superb trio set by 2021 Jazz Fellow and guitarist Hilary Geddes, joined by Jonathan Zwartz and Chloe Kim, while the judges deliberated.

Judges Chris Cody and Laurence Pike, commented, “It really is an amazing event, and opportunity for young musicians to present their vision in circumstances where commercial interests are removed entirely… this art form is one of the most uniquely human and expressive.”

Phillippa Murphy-Haste’s artistic practice encompasses an impressive range of musical contexts, including jazz, classical, experimental, improvised music, theatre, inter-arts, and cross-cultural collaborations. Her captivating 25-minute performance showcased lush intertwining harmonies and thought-provoking melodic counterpoints, taking the audience on a musical journey. Her ensemble, featuring accomplished musicians Paul Cutlan, fellow finalist Sam Gill, Nick Calligeros, Novak Manojlovic, Jacques Emery, and Chloe Kim, displayed exceptional chemistry and artistry..

With the Freedman Fellowship, Phillippa Murphy-Haste plans to undertake an improvising and composing mentorship with Swedish clarinet specialist Per ‘Texas’ Johansson, as well as the creation of a long-form work titled Kairos. This project will involve composed music interwoven with improvisations and will culminate in a cross-continent album recording featuring Phillippa, Per Texas Johansson, Paul Cutlan, and the band Microfiche.

Kairos is an Ancient Greek concept which refers to a notion of time as opportune, the right time, the time which should be seized.

Dr. Richard Letts, Director of the Music Trust and the Fellowships, praised Phillippa’s exceptional technical ability, noting that it goes beyond what is typically found in conventional competitions.

As mentioned by Michelle Hanna on the night, “you’ll hear from a few musicians on stage for several performances tonight. What strikes me about the jazz community is the collaboration and collegiality”, continuing to quote Mike Nock “He said it’s not what you play, but the way that you play it… Jazz is an attitude”.

The 2023 judges Laurence Pike, Ellen Kirkwood, Chris Cody noted “Theo, Sam and Phillippa all possess seriously impressive musicianship, creativity and demonstrated attention to detail in their projects.”
These three finalists represent the vanguard of leading improvisors in the new generation of jazz artists.