Album of the Week: Life is Brut[if]al — Andrea Keller / Just Kids — Stevan
Eastside’s Album of the Week show this week features the latest release from Australian jazz legend Andrea Keller, and the debut mixtape from Wollongong local Stevan.
Andrea Keller is a legendary Australian pianist and composer who began her foray into jazz at just 14 years old. She now composes and produces music for eight separate projects; Monday nights at the Jazzlab (curating & performing), Transients (a series of trios), Five Below (quintet), Journey Home (solo piano collaboration), Piano Club (solo piano concerts), The Composers Circle (6-piece ensemble of composers/performers), Solo/Duo/Trio, and Celebrating Voice. This, her latest release was performed with the Five Below quintet, Life is Brut[if]al is a soft and careful jazz composition. The more gentle tracks on the record are a testament to Keller’s prowess and years of knowledge on the piano, and the few tracks that feature big and erratic horns are a testament to her bandleader abilities. The quintet features Stephen Magnusson (guitar), Sam Anning (bass), Mick Meagher (bass), James McLean (drums), and of course Andrea Keller.
Stevan released his first single ‘Timee’ at the age of only 15 and since then has been working hard to release a mixtape that reflects the variety of influence that shaped his own childhood. Stevan is a self-identified African-Australian artist who released his debut Just Kids at a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement a few months ago. The album is not overtly political, but he does recognise that the existence of young Black or Indigenous kids on the Australian music scene is still a revolutionary concept. The album sifts through heartbreak, coming-of-age, and realising who you are in a changing world. Influences include Frank Ocean which can be heard on ‘Supa’, beach rock and Ska as on ‘LNT’, and Omar Apollo, who he opened for at Laneway this year.