Harry James Angus

Harry James Angus – Jazz Up North

Best known as the trumpet playing singer from The Cat Empire, Harry James Angus returns to The Tanks Arts Centre as part of the Jazz Up North series this Friday 26th August. Having  carved out a reputation for himself as one of the country’s most innovative and unpredictable artists, Harry James Angus is a solo artist who continues to experiment with different approaches to his craft.

Speaking to Harry after a recent tour of Canada with The Cat Empire, he was very excited to be returning to Cairns after the bands three sold out shows at The Tanks in June.

“It’s great, I love The Tanks. I’ve done a few shows there over the years and it’s a surprisingly intimate environment given the size of the room. It’s really just a beautiful place.”

Over the past decade, Harry has been bringing jazz and improvised music to new audiences  and culturally relevant worlds. When asked what to expect from this Fridays Jazz Up North show, he said:

“Basically we’re doing what The Cat Empire does, but just 100 years earlier! A lot of early jazz and stuff from the 30’s, I love diving through old records to find old compositions and then bringing them back to life. I’ve got a great bunch of players coming up for the gig, including Ollie McGill (The Cat Empire) who’ll be playing stride piano, which he is excellent at but we don’t often get to hear him play it.”

Picking up the trumpet from an early age, it wasn’t until Harry’s teenage years that he truly became engaged in the instrument.

“When I first started out they gave me a trumpet and said “you are in the school band” I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it in the first few years. It wasn’t until I heard Lois Armstrong for the first time that I really become interested in playing the Trumpet and expressing myself on the instrument. Aside from Louis, when I was younger I was into, and went on to study a lot of modern and Bebop stuff; players such as Miles Davis, Dizzie Gillespie and your Latin and Cuban players. There is just something about the Trumpet and the way it’s used in New Orleans music, which to me, sounds like the perfect way it should be played. I think Louis Armstrong is the best example of that.”

With an involment in a number of different acts including Jackson Jackson, The Conglomerate, The Cat Empire, The Harry James Angus Band and his own solo works, as well as writing scores for movies and television (even penning AFL’s GWS Giants theme song). HJA has definitely mastered a healthy balance between all projects to find a perfect harmony for all to co-exist.

“There’s a definitely a connection and a balance which all help each other. I do a lot of these jazz gigs quite regularly but they are generally in Melbourne in smaller bars on a mid-week. The thing I love about the jazz gigs is that it’s a very social thing for me. A lot of the people I play with are people I went to high school with, and some I’ve known for 20 years. It’s almost like our weekly catch up. It’s like being in a footy team. You see each other every week; you have a play and your apart of something. There’s a social aspect to it too which to be honest, I believe is sorely lacking in the western music world at the moment. Everyone is very business-like about their bands know days, which I understand they have to be because they are trying to make a living. But people forget that the social aspect of music and being a part of scene is just as important.”

Harry James Angus performs at The Tanks Arts Centre as part of the Jazz Up North Series on Friday 26th August. Doors open 6.30pm. Show starts 7.30pm. Tickets from Ticketlink. Check out harryjamesangus.com.au

Mitch Sullivan

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