Meet MIJF’s 2022 Take Note Jazz Leader: Flora Carbo
Take Note is MIJF’s annual artist development and gender equity initiative. Now in its fourth year, the program champions diversity, celebrates women and gender diverse leaders on stage, and encourages school-aged musicians across Victoria to consider a career in jazz performance.
Each year, MIJF selects an outstanding early-career musician to lead the program and develop new work to premiere at the annual Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Already proving to be one of the most exciting young artists in Australian jazz, with a long list of accomplishments and awards under her belt, our 2022 Take Note Jazz Leader, saxophonist Flora Carbo, is equal parts talent, passion, and focus.
We recently sat down with Flora to learn a little more about what makes her tick and where she’s heading—exploring her inspirations, aspirations, and reflections on her role as MIJF’s 2022 Take Note Jazz Leader.
Flora Carbo, tell us a bit about yourself…
FC: I am a saxophonist/improviser/composer based in Naarm (Melbourne). I’ve recently been working on exploring the vocal quality of the alto saxophone and the improvisatory and compositional boundaries between genres. I play in multiple projects around Melbourne and lead/co-lead groups, including Ecosystem, Magnify and The Rest Is Silence. I’m inspired by everything to do with the incredible live music scene in Melbourne and love being a part of this moment in sound! Right now, I’m also learning fiddle, and I love cycling and walking and singing harmonies.
Name three artists that inspire you the most and why.
1. Andrea Keller—in every way.
2. Arthur Russell—one of the most uncompromisingly creative, genre-defying artists I have ever heard.
3. All of my artist friends (cheeky of me, I know)—listening and being inspired is one thing, but constantly being around creative people in life and connecting through creating and learning is what motivates me most of all.
What is your favourite thing about being a musician?
FC: My favourite thing about being a musician is that I get to use sound to tap into this magical wavelength that bypasses the mind to directly connect with emotions. Not to sound airy fairy, but it’s pretty magic! You also have this unspoken, powerful connecting language with other musicians. Music is simply the best. And I am so grateful that I get to be a part of it.
On the flip side, what is the hardest thing about being a musician for you?
FC: Work-life balance.
You recently released a new EP, Arthur’s Walks. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it? And do you have a favourite piece from the project?
FC: Arthur’s Walks was a lockdown project connecting new learning in home recording, production and iso collaborations with my inspirations at the time, which were listening and walking. Each piece is presented as a walk, which could be a suggested listening experience or simply a storyline. I think the last piece, ‘Daily Stroll is my favourite, as it has the live energy of a band (Helen Svoboda, Ollie Cox, Sunny Reyne, Ollie Rolfe), which I was missing so much at the time!
Why do you feel MIJF’s Take Note program is important?
FC: Representation and access to role models is a very important factor in broadening gender diversity in the jazz scene. Having an artist work directly with high school students could inspire the spark that an individual needs to continue playing!
Which part of the program are you most looking forward to?
FC: I can’t wait to continue the workshops in high schools; the first two were inspiring experiences. It is an honour to be able to work with young musicians and explore improvisation and musical tools.
I am also enjoying getting stuck into composing for the piece for Ecosystem for MIJF 2022. It is such an honour to have the opportunity to create something to be presented at the Jazz Festival!
The Take Note initiative is supported by the Harry Kestin Foundation, the Robert Salzer Foundation, The University of Melbourne, Monash University and ABC Jazz.