One of Australia’s leading acoustic viola da gambists, Jenny Eriksson proudly announces the launch of Elysian Fields, a band featuring the electric viola da gamba alongside other modern instruments in the improvised music scene.
Eriksson is known for her inventiveness and for finding new means of expression for her specialist instrument the viola da gamba which dates back to Renaissance times. The electric viola da gamba brings this ancient instrument – a 7 string, bowed instrument with frets – right into the 21st century.
Eriksson has collaborated with jazz and world music artists for many years alongside, and as a part of, her highly regarded classical chamber music performances.
Taking up the electric viola da gamba is a move she has long contemplated. “A few years ago a Dutch instrument maker, who is also a gamba player, starting work on an electric viola da gamba. I listened to it online and struck up a conversation with him for some months before ordering one. I then had to learn to play it”, Eriksson related. “It’s a very different instrument to my acoustic gamba of course, and up to then I’d had very limited experience working with amplification. But I now have a set up I am very happy with, particularly in regard to the sound I make, which is very important to me.”
But why the new band? “Baroque music, which is my main area of expertise, has a tradition of improvisation”, says Eriksson, “And I’ve always loved jazz and have many good friends who are jazz and world music artists. I just feel I am at the stage of life that I am ready now to give this a go.”
Her past collaborators include Kevin Hunt, Llew and Mara Kiek and Steve Elphick from the Mara! band, horn player and composer, Paul Cutlan, Matt McMahon, Matt Keegan and her son, Siebe Pogson, who is bassist in the band. In 2014 Jenny also performed with the Matt Keegan Band for the Sydney Improvised Music Association.
The repertoire played by Elysian Fields has built up over time with new works from Matt McMahon, Siebe Pogson, Eriksson herself and a major new piece by Matt Keegan which will be premiered at the band’s launch in November. Arrangements of charts by local artists Guy Strazz and Steve Hunter also feature, along with a ballad by legendary Swedish jazz/fusion guitarist, Mats Norrefalk, which Eriksson and her son Siebe discovered on a recent trip to Sweden. Mats Norrefalk wrote a song called Southern Cross while doing his national service on a Swedish naval ship in the Southern Hemisphere. “I knew as soon as I heard it that it would work on the electric gamba and Mats kindly sent me the chart” says Siebe Pogson.
How did the band get its name? “I was arranging a piece for electric gamba while visiting my sister in law’s north coast property which is called Elysian Fields. I love the property and the name so I called both the arrangement and the band after her place!”
The performers: Jenny Eriksson – electric viola da gamba/ Matt McMahon – keyboards/ Matt Keegan – saxophones/ Siebe Pogson – electric bass/ Finn Ryan – drums.
With guest artists Steve Elphick on bass and vocalist Sarah Belkner.
More at www.foundry616.com.au/