What to SEE: Scott Tinkler

21 October 2021

One of the hot tickets at the Perth International Jazz Festival is trumpet player Scott Tinkler, whose solo and duo shows will explore the acoustics at two of Perth’s iconic venues.

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The much-anticipated Perth International Jazz Festival is nearly upon us. In November Perth and Busselton will come alive with the sounds of over 50 inspirational local, national and international acts. Rosalind Appleby chats with Australian trumpet legend Scott Tinkler, currently based in Tasmania, and one of the headline artists at the festival.

Rosalind Appleby: Where is Bruny Island and why did you and your trumpet decide to relocate there from Melbourne?

Scott Tinkler: Bruny Island is in southern Tasmania, a very beautiful place accessible by ferry. We had been visiting here each year after Mona Foma festival performances and made some great friends. Our daughters had left home and gone to Uni so we decided to sell up and make the move south.

RA: You are one of the headline acts at the Perth International Jazz Festival, performing with guitarist Julius Schwing. How did your collaboration with Julius come about?

ST: I met Julius before moving to Bruny, we used to hang and play when I visited here. He and his family were a great inspiration for our move to Bruny, we loved the life they have here. Since moving here we have continued to work on our collaboration together playing and hanging every week.

Julius Schwing and Scott Tinkler will perform at The Rechabite during the Perth International Jazz Festival. Photo supplied

RA: Your improvisations together in Bruny Island are informed by specific acoustic environments such as lighthouses, boats, stairwells and sheds. For the Festival you will be performing in the Goodwill Club at The Rechabite, one of Perth’s iconic music venues. How do expect this space to influence your performance?

ST: We’ve played in many venues, so we’ll just have to wait and see how this place is set up. Not been there before so we will find out soon where the space leads us.

RA: What impact do different acoustics have? How does it change the way you play? 

ST: Acoustics can affect musical choices, sometimes there’s certain notes or harmonic areas that stand out in the space. Reverb or echo plays a large part too. Sometimes the physical shape of the room may determine where we set up, often Julius and I will set up in different parts of the space. A dry space can be very difficult and physically taxing, so you might back off to conserve energy, or use the dry sound to create awkward silences to heighten the tension. 

RA: You are also doing a solo show at Hackett Hall, the WA Museum Boola Bardip. What can we expect from this show?

ST: Expect solo trumpet I guess. I don’t know that space either, but hoping it’s a space that is great for trumpet to soar.

RA: It’s a large and reverberant hall, a beautiful space for the trumpet to soar. I’ve never heard a solo jazz trumpet show before… will you be playing standards, or originals, or improvising? 

ST: Purely improvised, but feeding on many years of playing standards as well as my original music. I allow my intuition to lead me and try to play compositionally, so you may hear things you think might be a tune, then think oh he’s playing such and such, and I might be, but also might not. 

WIN tickets to Scott Tinkler’s solo show at the Perth International Jazz Festival.

RA: How do you keep an audience occupied with a solo trumpet?

ST: By sound, flow and creativity, just like with any music. You can’t please all the people all the time, and I don’t try to. I explore ideas and twist them around, turn them upside down and reinvent them however I can. Hopefully people are there to listen without expectation, just absorb the moment. 

RA: You’ve been performing and touring internationally since 1983, a career built on exploring the extremes of jazz and reaching into the richness of intercultural collaborations. How have you been surviving during the pandemic, when much of this touring and collaborating has ceased? What does a working week look like for you now?

ST: I go to my studio early every day to practice, I stick to a fairly strict regime of trumpet maintenance, it’s a demanding instrument indeed. I also have home recording gear so do quite a bit of recording for my artistic practice. The pandemic sure has put a halt to many proposed tours and performances, so I keep busy practicing. Financially things are very tight, artists have really suffered with the pandemic, but it is what it is.

RA: What other shows are you interested in checking out during the Festival?

ST: I tend to not go see bands before I perform to keep my focus for playing, but I’ll be heading out after for sure. Hopefully Jamie Oehlers is playing somewhere, always an inspiration hearing him!

Scott Tinkler & Julius Schwing perform 6 November 2021.

Scott Tinkler will perform solo on 7 November 2021.

The Perth International Jazz Festival runs 5 – 7 November in Perth and 13 November in Busselton.

Pictured top: trumpet player Scott Tinkler is one of Australia’s jazz legends. Photo supplied

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Author —
Rosalind Appleby

Rosalind is an arts journalist, author and speaker. She was co-managing editor and founding board member of Seesaw Magazine 2018 – 2023, is author of Women of Note, and has written for The West Australian, The Guardian, The Australian, Limelight magazine and Opera magazine (UK). She loves park percussion instruments.

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