Now reading



Jazz musician Chris Broomhead takes us inside his approach to creating his art.

As the leader of contemporary jazz trio Refraction, drummer Chris Broomhead is a Melbourne native who currently resides in the American music mecca of Nashville, Tennessee. As an independent musician, the process of curating and creating an album is no small feat. Chris shares with us his artistic approach to recording Refraction’s third studio recording Reimagined before he returns to Melbourne next month to join his trio comprising Brenton Foster and Marty Holoubek for an evening of live and lyrical music-making.

Where we came from:

Refraction is a journey, and each project we create is a step reimagining the jazz piano trio.

Going into the studio in late-2016 to record what would become Reimagined, I was hopeful that we had an opportunity to document the refinement of the trio’s sound, enabling us to get closer to the ideal of the piano trio that existed in my mind.

I have always been fascinated by trios in both jazz and rock contexts - piano trios and guitar trios specifically. In the jazz world, the piano trio has a long and distinguished history. For a number of years, I wanted to form a piano trio that would contribute to that excellent tradition. 

It was then that I was fortunate to meet Brenton Foster, Marty Holoubek (our first bass player who joined us in 2013) and Jordan Tarento (our current bass player who joined us in 2015) who also shared the same feelings as I did and wanted to be a part of this journey.

What comes next:

Preparing and recording the music for Reimagined was great fun, and because it was our third time around, we felt it was possible to relax and enjoy the process. This comes across in the recording. Reimagined is increasingly more content and contemplative than previous albums with less urgency and nervous energy throughout it.

The thing about a jazz trio is that there’s a lot of space for the sound of each individual instrument to come through, for interaction with band members and their instruments and spontaneity. I think Reimagined reflects this. 

It’s interesting, the music that I write and the conception that I have for Refraction is fairly tightly controlled; in the sense that I have a vision for the pieces and for the sounds, so it can constrain, in the best possible way, what interactions and reinterpretations can or should take place. I enjoy the setting for a classic jazz piano trio because it is simple and elegant, and as a composer I can craft music that exploits that simplicity.

Where to now:

We’ve just recorded a fourth studio album (due for release late-2018/early-2019) which refines the concept of Refraction as an ensemble further. This time we chose to record the album in a church instead of a recording studio which dramatically impacted the sound and vibe of the music. We also recently performed at Kew Court House where my filmmaker friend Bethany Hamburg created custom visual projections for each piece in an event called Refractions in Colour & Mind.

Refraction plays the Salon on Friday 14 September

Check out Chris Broomhead's YouTube channel. Here's a taster below. 

You might also be interested in