Arts & Entertainment


Think jazz and classical don’t mix’ Think again. I Want to Play Like Him is a concert of classical, jazz and improvisation at The Basement on Tuesday, July 15.

It’s a rare opportunity to catch Simon Tedeschi – perhaps Australia’s only virtuoso pianist – in the intimate surrounds of a jazz venue, playing with his long-time friend and collaborator, master jazz pianist Kevin Hunt.

The concert shows off their evolving interests and complementary styles. Expect favourites and lesser-known pieces from Bach, Ellington, Shostakovich, Debussy, Fats Waller, Dave Brubeck, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson.

They have a new take on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and reinterpret Black, from Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, Beige.

“My work with Kevin is very special to me,” says Simon. “In the early days it was a mixture of styles because we had such different backgrounds – his jazz expertise, harmonic knowledge, and my classical style. But the more I played with him, the more we moved our styles closer to each other.

“Initially it was very organised, but the more we play together, the less structured it becomes. Every performance is dramatically different. Kevin’s an amazing improviser, but there’s always a very strong architectural element to his work.

“We are both raw types of musicians,” he says. “We have a healthy rivalry which also adds to the dynamic.”

At only 26, Tedeschi is a virtuoso of the instrument who first performed at the Sydney Opera House at age 9. Although he has played with orchestras from around the world, he keeps returning to duo work. “It’s a very intimate experience, especially if you get on well with the other performer.”

Tedeschi is one of the few classical pianists with the ability to cross over into jazz improvisation. Among his favourite players he cites Fats Waller, Thelonius Monk, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and even non-pianists like Louis Armstrong.

“There are a lot of similarities between jazz and classical, and many differences. Some classical composers are very influenced by jazz, and many jazz musicians are classically trained. Of course, jazz is the classical music of America.”

Simon Tedeschi & Kevin Hunt: I Want to Play Like Him
Tuesday 15 July, 9pm
The Basement
29 Reiby Place, Circular Quay

Tickets: $20, 9251 2797 or