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Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi
Kristin Berardi

So Much To Dig

Winner of the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival’s ‘International Voice Of The Year’ as well as numerous national awards, Kristin Berardi performs as part of the Perth International Jazz Festival on Saturday, May 10, at the Singers Lounge in the State Theatre Centre of WA and Sunday, May 11, at Ellington Jazz Club (both shows from 6pm). DAVID O’CONNELL reports.

Although musical from a young age, jazz wasn’t Kristin Berardi’s first love. Surprisingly, it actually grew out of some shrewd negotiation from her music teacher.

“It was sort of a gradual thing,” she says. “I was exposed to jazz as I was playing the alto saxophone. So we were doing a bit of jazz repertoire. At the same time I was really enjoying discovering that I could sing okay, so I was trying to sing more.  So my teacher was a bit sneaky that way – ‘you can sing, we’re having a jazz combo. You can be the singer but you have to play sax as well’.

“I didn’t kind of love it straight away. I think I didn’t understand a lot of the context. He just kept lending me different artists and I thought they were all amazing, but I really wasn’t getting it ‘til he lent me some Vince Jones. I went, ‘ahh so that’s jazz. I do like jazz!’ So I went on a Vince Jones binge. Ordered in all the records to the local CD store.”

From there Berardi went back with an understanding of the language, and has loved it ever since.

“I love that it is an expression of your own making in terms of just being yourself and putting your own stamp on it,” she says. “There’s a freedom in it, with the melody and the phrasing. In a way I guess the freedom and improvising go hand in hand. I love that when you are making some of the others you are encouraged to do your own thing. You never feel like you are making it on your own. You look to the people around you and they’ll be doing things from that.

“It’s kind of exciting because anything can happen, and, if you want it to be, it can be different every time. Which I kind of dig. I used to get in trouble with my early singing lessons for not singing what’s on the page and now it’s like I’m not getting into trouble any more. ‘This is great’. The freedom and joy you get from working with other people closely and openly sharing that musical cup around. I really dig that.”

With a second collaboration album with guitarist James Sherlock released recently, and a band album on the horizon (possibly later this year) 2014 is looking fairly busy for her. Berardi also shares her knowledge and skills by teaching at the Queensland  Conservatorium Of Music as well as guest lecturing around the country.

“It’s sharing that love,” she notes, “as jazz is not the most popular of music forms, and it’s great sharing it with those who dig it. You learn a lot and keep your craft up demonstrating it to people.”

 

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