about Mike Nelson
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[Complete History]
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BRIEF HISTORY

In October 2003, Mike Nelson resigned his position as Lecturer in Jazz Studies, Canberra School of Music, Australian National University in order to finish his book "The Craft Of Jazz Piano" and devote more time to composition. He left the Jazz Department on October 31 2003 and now resides in Perth Western Australia.

Appointed as Lecturer in Jazz Studies, Canberra School of Music, Australian National University. (2000) His classes included: Aural, Harmony, Ensemble and Arranging as well as tutoring Piano Majors from Preparatory through to Masters streams.

Regularly engaged to accompany interstate and overseas artists including: Milt Jackson, John Surman, James Morrison, Don Burrows, Joe Newman, Birnie McGann, Keith Stirling, Peter O'Mara, Mark Murphy, John Etheridge, Danny Moss, Red Rodney, Lee Konitz, Ritchie Cole, Johnny Nicole, Bob Bertles, Phil Wilson, Holly Hoffman, Clare Martin, Dale Barlow, John Hoffman, Sue Cruikshank, Shirley Bassey, Marie Wilson, Tom Baker

Published educational series "The Craft Of Jazz Piano" (1997)

Lecturer in Jazz Studies (W.A. Conservatorium and University of W.A.)

Music Clinician for W.A. Music Teacher's Association (1995), Orff Shulwerk Society (1996) and Hedland College (1999)

Annual performances at York (W. A.) Jazz Festival accompanying interstate / overseas artists

1991 - 94 Composed Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (Recorded by W.A.S.O. 1996)

1993 Composed Sonata for String Quartet (Performed by Australian String Quartet. Broadcast by A.B.C.)

1991 Composed Saxophone Quartet for Perth Saxophone Quartet

1990 Awarded the Creative Development Fellowship by the WA Dept. for the Arts.

1990 Composed orchestral suite for WA Youth Orchestra.

1989 Performance / teaching tour of India for Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

1987 Mike Nelson's "Four On The Floor" quartet chosen to represent Australia at the Indian Jazz Yatra

Composed and performed film score - Philippines

Composed and performed for several graduate films - London


RECORDING IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Standards:

  • James Flynn & the Mike Nelson Trio 1997
  • Perth City Jazz Orchestra 1995

Original composition:

  • "Follow", a gospel album. 2006 - co-wrote with David Smith
  • Annie Neil's CD "Release" 1999 - co-wrote, arranged and recorded keyboards
  • "Celebration" CD 1997
  • Mike Nelson Quartet 1987 - 1997
  • Concerto for Percussion & Orchestra 1996 (WASO)
  • Sonata for String Quartet 1993 (Australian String Quartet)
  • "Reflections Of WA" - Bicentennial CD 1987
  • Mike Nelson's Little Big Band 1980


HONOURS / AWARDS

  • Chosen as 1 of 10 jazz composers nationally to be represented at the Australian Music Centre, Canberra (1995)
  • "Sonata for String Quartet" chosen to be performed and work shopped by the Australian String Quartet at the University of Adelaide. Also broadcast on ABC.
  • Awarded First Place in WA Rock Music Industry Association (WARMIA) 1991 & 92 song contests - Jazz / Blues category
  • Awarded the major Creative Development Fellowship by WA Department for the Arts (1991) - first time awarded to a Jazz Composer, to further development of orchestral composition.





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COMPLETE PROFESSIONAL HISTORY

Date of birth 31 July 1949
Place of birth Perth, Western Australia
Nationality Australian

1968 - 1974 Professional musician and arranger based in Perth.

1971 Six month's contract at Cuscaden House Hotel, Singapore in Perth band "Trinity" including a concert performance at the National Theatre of Singapore.

1974 - 1979 Moved to London, U.K. Worked as musician, arranger and composer in live and studio settings including a number of tours in U.K., Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa and Zimbabwe with British pop group "5000 VOLTS".
The group appeared on BBC's "Top Of The Pops" four times, had number 1 hits in Britain, Europe and South Africa, a number 23 in USA and toured extensively throughout Britain, Europe and Southern Africa from 1976 - 78.

1978 Scored several graduate films at the London International Film School.

1979 Returned to Perth and commenced two month season at the Palace Hotel with Jazz band "News" led by Sydney alto sax player, Ken James.

Began appearing regularly in concert for the Perth Jazz Society accompanying visiting artists as well as presenting own ensembles.

1979 - Present Regularly engaged to accompany interstate and overseas artists including Milt Jackson, John Surman, James Morrison, Don Burrows, Joe Newman, Birnie McGann, Keith Stirling, Peter O'Mara, Mark Murphy, John Etheridge, Danny Moss, Red Rodney, Lee Konitz, Ritchie Cole, Johnny Nicole, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Bertles, Phil Wilson, Holly Hoffman, Clare Martin, Andrew Firth, John Hoffman, Marie Wilson, Shirley Bassey

1980 Spent six weeks in Manila, Philippines, composing and recording score for 90 minute film "Tanikala" produced by film company Cine Filipinos. Also acted as music editor on this project. Instrumentation included strings, percussion, guitar and piano.

Nelson's "Little Big Band" (11 piece) recorded by the ABC for national broadcast on Jim McLeod's "Jazz Track" program.

Commissioned by the ABC to adapt his film themes for performance by the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra including a Jazz rhythm section. The program was performed at the Perth Concert Hall.

1981 Established the Jazz quartet "Four On The Floor" as an outlet for his arrangements and compositions.

1984 Employed as a part time lecturer in Jazz Studies at the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music during it's first year of operation.

1985 Accepted three year contract as full time lecturer in Jazz Studies at the W.A. Conservatorium.

1987 His quartet "Four On The Floor" chosen in a nationwide poll to represent Australia at the Indian Jazz Yatra, an annual international Jazz festival. The band performed concerts in Bombay, Goa and Delhi.

Commissioned by the Music Board of the Australia Council along with two other composers to compose a suite as part of the Bicentennial celebrations. Instrumentation for Nelson's contribution included Jazz rhythm section, string quartet, woodwinds and percussion. After its' Perth premiere, the suite was toured to several centres in Western Australia and recorded by the ABC in December 1988. It was later released as the compact disc "Reflections Of W.A."

1989 Received grants from the Music Board of the Australia Council to record an album of his Jazz compositions and stage a concert performance of his contemporary compositions involving a fusion of Jazz and "Classical" instrumentation.

Promoted to Lecturer 1 level, W.A. Conservatorium of Music.

"Four On The Floor" invited to perform at the Fourth Malaysian International Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur.

Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to take a Jazz quartet on a performance and teaching tour of India as part of the Cultural Exchange Program with that country. The group conducted workshops and concerts in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Goa and Pune.

1990 Commissioned by the West Australian Youth Orchestra (WAYO) to compose an orchestral suite for Jazz quartet and symphony orchestra. The work (approximately 45 minutes in duration) was performed by WAYO and the Mike Nelson quartet in October at the Perth Concert Hall.

Resigned his position at the W.A. Conservatorium to pursue his composition and performance career.

1991 Commissioned to compose a contemporary Jazz work for the Perth Saxophone Quartet. Resident pianist at the Hyatt International and Parmelia Hilton hotels.

Awarded the major Creative Development Fellowship by the W.A. Department for the Arts in order to further his work in orchestral composition.

Awarded first place in the Jazz/Blues category of the W.A. Music Industry Association (WAMIA) 1991 song contest.

1992 Awarded first place in the Jazz/Blues category of the W.A. Music Industry Association (WAMIA.) 1992 song contest.

Commissioned by Gary France (lecturer in percussion, W.A. Conservatorium of Music) to compose a concerto for percussion and symphony orchestra. The work was funded by the Australia Council.

1993 His "Sonata For String Quartet" chosen as one of nine to be performed and workshopped at the 1993 Composer's Forum held at the University of Adelaide, S.A. Recorded and later broadcast on ABC "Fine Music" program. Taught a Jazz Workshop/keyboard lab. unit at University of W.A.

1994 Completed his "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra". The concerto is a 30 minute work in 2 movements. W.A.S.O. to perform it (Gary France soloist) in July 1996. Score and parts completed using "FINALE" music software on Apple/Mac computer.

Toured to several regional centres as musical director with the "Jazz Divas", a group of Perth jazz vocalists.

Resident pianist with the "Perth city Jazz Orchestra", an 18 piece jazz big band performing weekly at the Wardle Room, (Perth Concert Hall).

1995 Conducted workshops for the W.A. Music Teachers Assoc. to help teachers and examiners better understand the new Jazz syllabus for secondary schools. Recorded a C.D. with the Perth city Jazz Orch. Continued work on players parts for his Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra. Formed a new "Mike Nelson Quartet" and commenced regular rehearsals of his original jazz compositions. Served on the Jazz Co-ordination program's steering committee.

Granted "Represented Composer" status at the Australian Music Centre.

1996 The Mike Nelson quartet recorded by the A.B.C. for national broadcast on Jim McLeod's "Jazztrack".

His "Concerto For Percussion And Orchestra" recorded by W.A. Symphony Orchestra with Gary France soloist, A.B.C. studios, Perth. Conducted workshop for Orff Society music teachers to assist them to incorporate jazz concepts in their teaching method. Part time lecturing in Jazz Studies at the W.A. Conservatorium of Music.

1997 Lectured in Jazz at W.A. Conservatorium, University of W.A. and La Salle College. Co-wrote and arranged songs with singer Annie Neil for her CD album. Arranged jazz standard material for "James Flynn & the Mike Nelson Trio" CD, recorded at the A.B.C. in December. Organised "The Spirit Of Christmas" concert to raise money for youth charity. Established "The Journey Singers", a 17 piece gospel choir. Commenced publishing his educational series "The Craft Of Jazz Piano". Released his debut CD album, "Celebration".

1998 Lectured in Jazz at the W.A. Conservatorium, University of W.A. and Santa Maria College. Organised, arranged and directed the second "Spirit Of Christmas" concert. Established "Journey Tickets", a complete event ticket management service. Finished CD albums with Annie Neil and James Flynn. Commissioned by the Perth Jazz Society to compose a 12 minute contemporary jazz work for rhythm section, brass and woodwinds.

1999 Lectured at University of WA and Santa Maria College. Became a distributor for "pROMo Bizcard", a web interactive CD rom marketing tool. Commenced development of his own web site, "Wrenn Nelson Productions" as a virtual trading forum for a variety of products including: Jazz & Contemporary Recordings, Events Ticket Management services, Charts & Arrangements, "The Craft Of Jazz Piano", pROMo Bizcard as well as online promotion of ensemble, performance and resume information. Successfully negotiated for sponsored presentation of the 1999 Spirit Of Christmas Concert with the City Of Perth. Conducted workshops in Port Hedland to enable teachers from non-jazz backgrounds in the far north of Western Australia to incorporate jazz into their teaching methods.

2000 Accepted full time position as Lecturer in Jazz Studies, Piano at the Canberra School of Music, Australian National University. Mike and his family now reside in Canberra. Liaised with the City Of Perth in order to present the 2000 Spirit Of Christmas Concert in Forrest Place, Perth on Sunday, December 17th. Performed at Bennett's Lane jazz venue (Melbourne) with the Canberra School of Music Jazz Faculty Ensemble.

2001 Performed at the Australian Jazz Festival with the Canberra School of Music Jazz Faculty Ensemble and the Jenny Wrenn Quintet. Performed at Bennett's Lane (Melbourne) and the Side On Cafe (Sydney).

2002 Appointed to the position of Acting Head of Department for the first half of 2002. Set up Jazz In The Band Room concert series at the Canberra School of Music. Awarded New Faculties Research Grant for joint project "Art Of The Duo", in partnership with bassist Eric C. Ajaye.

2003 Time Within Duo with Eric Ajaye: performed in concert for the Perth Jazz Society. Resigned his position at the ANU in order to finish his book "The Craft Of Jazz Piano" and devote more time to composition and performance. Returned to Perth WA with his family.

2004 Commenced part time teaching at the WA Conservatorium. Organised concert for One For All Big Band featuring vocal group Birdland in Fremantle Festival. Co-wrote album of jazz Christian gospel / praise songs with David Smith. Resident solo pianist at Parmelia Hilton hotel. Established private teaching practice. Jazz adjudicator for Wesley College and Carey College. Commissioned to compose harp piece for Alice Giles (ANU) and 3 percussion pieces for Gary France (Head of School, ANU). Mike Nelson Trio (Ric Eastman - bass, Matt Willis - drums) performed in concert with Miroslav Bukovsky, John and Carl Mackey for Perth Jazz Society. Recorded by ABC for national broadcast. Organised big band concert - Birdland & One For All big band performed in the Fremantle Town Hall for Festival Fremantle.

2005 Mike Nelson trio featuring Jenny Wrenn (vocals) performed at York Jazz Festival. Performed with James Flynn band. Musical Director for One For All big band performance for VP day celebrations, Perth Convention Centre. Recorded album of original gospel music with co-writer David Smith. Commenced work on album of original songs. Joined "Odyssey", string quartet with jazz bass and piano; (leader Alan Bonds) and completed several arrangements for this ensemble. Performed in concert with Odyssey at University of WA, Guilford Grammer School and Fly By Night club. Performed with Matt Jodrell Quartet featuring vocalist June Smith in concert for the Perth Jazz Society. Performances for Fremantle Jazz Society. Joined quartet "COUNT2/3" and performed for Sandalford Wine Festival.

2006 Commissioned by Perth Concert Hall management to arrange 1st movement of the Mozart Oboe concerto for jazz quartet, string quartet and oboe. Performed at PCH as Australia Day celebration in January featuring soloists Leanne Glover (oboe) and Jamie Oehlars (sax). Continued part time teaching at WA Conservatorium (jazz piano). Commenced Mechanical Engineering studies full time at Carlisle TAFE. Completed and released gospel CD "Follow", co-written with singer David Smith. Completed Diploma - Mechanical Engineering.

2007 Commissioned by Perth Concert Hall management to expand jazz arrangement of Mozart Oboe concerto to full orchestra. Completed October 2007 and performed by Dhubia Philharmonic Orchestra in December.

2008 Commenced employment as Electronics Assembler for Perth firm Barrett Comunications, manufacturers of Hi Frequency Tranceivers and comunication equipment.



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BACKGROUND IN EDUCATION

During the 6 year period 1985 - 1990 he was employed full time at the W.A. Conservatorium of Music as a lecturer in Jazz Piano. He established the Jazz Piano and Second Study Jazz Piano curricula for the Certificate, Associate Diploma and B. Mus. courses. During that time he was promoted to Lecturer I position.

As Jazz Studies was newly established he helped to write the curriculum and taught in a number of other areas including Improvisation (for Jazz and Classical students), Jazz Theory and Ensemble. When the 2 year Associate Diploma was expanded to a 4 year Bachelor of Music he extended the Improvisation course outline for 3rd and 4th years.

In 1990 he was awarded the $30,000 Creative Development Fellowship from the W.A. Dept for the Arts. Only one per year is awarded and this was the first time it was awarded to a Jazz musician. He resigned his full time position to concentrate on orchestral composition. His "Concerto For Percussion And Orchestra", was recorded by the W.A. Symphony Orchestra with Gary France soloist at the A.B.C. (Perth) in July 1996.

His quartet "Four On The Floor" was chosen to represent Australia at the 1988 Indian Jazz Yatra. The tour was funded by the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The department funded a return to India for a teaching and performance tour in 1990. He took a quartet of experienced Jazz educators for this tour and conducted workshops and performances in Delhi, Bombay, Goa, Pune, Madras and Calcutta.

From 1991 to the present he has lectured part time at the W.A. Conservatorium, University of W.A. (where he established Jazz Studies for the first time) and La Salle and Santa Maria Secondary Colleges as well as completing various composer commissions and freelance performances. He has conducted workshops for the W.A. Music Teacher's Ass., the Orff Schulwerk Society and Hedland College in order to assist teachers from non-Jazz backgrounds understand and incorporate Jazz into their teaching methods.

2000 Lecturer in Jazz Studies (Piano) at the Canberra School Of Music, Australian National University. His classes included Aural, Arranging and Composition, Ensemble, Concert Practice, Functional Music Technology, Jazz Keyboard as well as individual tuition for Pre-tertiery, B. Mus., Honours and Masters piano students. In 2002 he was appointed as acting Head of Department for semester one.

In 2003 he resigned his position at the ANU in order to finish his book "The Craft Of Jazz Piano" and devote more time to composition and performance. Mike and his family now reside in Perth Western Australia.

2004 - 2007 Lectured part time at UWA (Jazz Aural) and WA Conservatorium (individual tuition, piano majors).



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©Mike Nelson 2001