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All That Jazz

The latest and most compelling new voice in Australian jazz, saxophonist, composer and arranger Stephen Byth (OW2012) has released Reparations, a hit debut album. Described as a ‘call-to-arms, reflecting its composer’s issues at the forefront of contemporary Australia’, the album brings together diverse influences spanning from John Coltrane to Béla Bartók to Andrea Keller. The seamless quality of the music is even more remarkable given it was recorded during lockdown, with musicians remotely adding their parts.

Stephen’s musical path began at age 13 upon hearing a recording of Dexter Gordon, after which he was immediately drawn to the sound of the saxophone and the freedom and expressive possibilities of jazz music. After beginning his professional career at the age of 15, Stephen went on to become an active member of Melbourne’s jazz scene, playing with some of Australia’s finest musicians including our own Paul Grabowsky (OW1975), Barney McAll, James Morrison and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

After receiving the Monash Jazz Scholarship in 2013, Stephen went on to study his Bachelor of Music at Monash University where he was mentored by Australian jazz luminaries Julien Wilson and Tony Gould. Upon graduating in 2015, Stephen received the Ernst Morawitz Prize, recognising him as the top graduating student of his class. He was also selected as a finalist in the Generations in Jazz James Morrison Scholarship.

Upon graduating, Stephen went on to perform as a leader/sideman in various iconic venues around Melbourne including Hamer Hall, the Jazzlab, Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club and Uptown Jazz Café, as well as at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. In 2017 he recorded on a live album by James Morrison and Patti Austin named Ella and Louis which would go on to be nominated for an ARIA Award later that year.

In 2018, Stephen relocated to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music on scholarship. During his time at Berklee, he studied jazz composition and counterpoint as well as studying saxophone with George Garzone and Frank Tiberi. Stephen is currently finishing his Master of Music at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute under Danilo Pérez and Marco Pignataro, a program that offers full-tuition grants to its students. Stephen’s journey from a Bachelor at Monash to a Masters at the Berklee College of Music sees him now living and performing in Boston, working alongside many fellow talented jazz artists.

Reparations is now available at linktr.ee/stephenbyth

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