All that jazz

Benjamin Shannon will play alongside some of the world’s best jazz musicians at the Banff International Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music next month.

The Queensland Conservatorium graduate is one of just 48 musicians from around the world selected to attend the intensive 3-week workshop in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

The talented young drummer, who graduated from the Bachelor of Music in 2015, is still celebrating the good news.

“I put in a last minute application, not expecting anything, and not knowing if I was ready,” he said.

“The fact that I’m going is still sinking in — it’s going to be a life-changing experience.”

Queensland Conservatorium Head of Jazz Dr Stephen Newcomb said the workshop was a “tremendous career opportunity”.

“There is areal emphasis on improvisation and exploring diverse approaches to music making at Banff, and the faculty features some of the most renowned musicians in the world,” he said.

“Attendance at a workshop such as this really expands global networks and is essentially a game changer for a young musician.”

Despite studying jazz drum kit, Benjamin refuses to be pigeon-holed, playing a wide range of styles.

“I play everything from jazz to prog rock, metal and electronica,” he said.

“I’ve always loved to play a diverse range of music, and I think that was a big factor in my selection for Banff.

“My submission video featured everything from a jazz trio to an original psychedelic rock single!

“It is a jazz program, but there is a focus on exploring connections to other genres and disciplines.”

The Banff Jazz Workshop was created in 1974 by Grammy-award winning Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson.

There is a revolving guest faculty each week — accomplished musicians who have played alongside everyone from jazz legends like Art Blakey and McCoy Tyner to pop icons like David Bowie and Beyonce.

“It is going to be surreal playing with all of these world-class musicians and composers,” Benjamin said.

“I’m determined to represent myself and the Queensland Conservatorium well.”

Since graduating, Benjamin has juggled regular gigs with teaching.

“I play in seven or eight different bands, so I’m gigging every week,” he said.

“I also teach drums to 60 students, so life is busy!”

Benjamin said his studies at the Queensland Conservatorium had provided a solid foundation for a career as a musician.

“I originally came to the Con through the Graduate Certificate program, and had to work really hard to get into the Bachelor of Music,” he said.

“The degree at the Con was challenging, but my studies have helped me so much as a musician — you do everything from theory to aural work, singing and composition.

“It makes you a really well-rounded performer.”

Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said Benjamin’s selection was “a real honour”.

“It is fantastic news and illustrates the calibre of our graduates, who are making their mark on the international music scene,” he said.