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by Tony Roma
posted 22/09/2021

Freedman Jazz Finalists Announced 2021

Flora Carbo – Saxophone
Joseph Franklin – Bass
Hilary Geddes – Guitar
Maria Moles – Drums

After a competitive search for Australia’s most exciting young jazz talent, The Music Trust’s Freedman Jazz Fellowship finalists have been announced for 2021.  Flora Carbo, Joseph Franklin, Hilary Geddes and Maria Moles have been named as this year’s finalists to go before esteemed judges; trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, saxophonist Loretta Palmeiro and pianist and producer Stu Hunter.   In any ordinary year, the prize would be awarded at a deciding concert at the Sydney Opera House. This year, the four finalists will work with mentors to hone their creative projects before meeting virtually with the judges as they decide the $21,000 prize.

Conceived by Laurence Freedman AM and Dr Richard Letts AM, the Freedman Jazz Fellowship is a life-changing award offered annually to Australian musicians aged up to 35. Important jazz musicians from around Australia nominate 16 musicians each believes could be assessed as the finest in the country. Three judges have chosen four musicians to go on to the final stage.  Here, the judges take into consideration two parts: contestants’ musical practice and their respective plans for a creative project that is to be carried out with the Fellowship prize, should they win.

After two decades of living and working in New York, trumpeter and judge Nadje Noordhuis could detect the strong cultural lineage of Australian jazz in this year’s applicants.  “It was fantastic to hear such high calibre submissions, with a range of inventive music and considered projects reflecting the current creative landscape. The judges and I are confident the finalists showcase the breadth of musical voices emerging from our national jazz scene”.

Dr Richard Letts said  “Pleasingly, a ground-breaking result this year is that three of the four finalists are women. It should be said that there was no affirmative action here. The selection was made on merit. The finalists are stylistically different to an unusual degree. That’s a problem for the judges when they come to decide, but a boon for Australian jazz. The differences encourage vitality and invention and even more rapid development of the Australian jazz scene. All that is identified and given further reward by the Freedman Jazz Fellowship.”

The Freedman Jazz Fellowships began in 2002, and have since helped to establish the careers of Australia’s most distinguished jazz artists. Past Fellows include luminaries such as Andrea Keller, Julien Wilson, James Muller, Matt Keegan, Phil Slater and Kristin Berardi.


Flora Carbo is an emerging saxophonist from Victoria. Twice nominated for The Freedman Jazz Fellowship, Carbo was also a finalist in the Young Australian Jazz Artist of The Year in the Jazz Bell Awards in 2019. Flora’s project includes a creative mentorship to develop compositional and performance practice and a new performance work, as well as participating in Speak Percussion’s Bespoke program.

Melbourne-based bassist Joseph Franklin is the founder of Sydney’s Music Box Project and experimental group The Opera Company, and a constantly evolving collaborator. He will be supported by mentor Erkki Veltheim. For his proposal, Joseph would undertake three interrelated projects; an international collaboration with Tunisian Stambeli musician Salah Ouergli, the composition, recording and tour for an original solo contrabass guitar album, and composition, recording and tour with his quartet.

Multidisciplinary guitarist originally from rural NSW, Hilary Geddes moves easily between jazz, indie rock and commissioned art music. Hilary plans to tour the Riverina, Goulburn and Canberra with her band, the Hilary Geddes Quartet. Spending five days at The Cad Factory in the Riverina Arts Centre the band would rehearse and record new works written as part of the Fellowship to be released as a new album before performances in Sydney and Melbourne. Her advisor is Andrea Keller.

Maria Moles is a Tasmanian-born, Melbourne-based drummer/percussionist whose style mixes electronics and the Kulintang music of The Philippines in a contemporary, experimental setting. Maria will be assisted by mentor Simon Barker. She plans to compose and record a new suite of music for solo drumset titled ‘Heavy Bloom’, inspired by the practices of five leading contemporary drummers namely Tony Buck, Will Guthrie, Susie Ibarra, Simon Barker, and Laurence Pike. These recordings would form a new album released worldwide via the Black Truffles label, with an international publicity campaign and Australian tour to promote the release.


The Jazz Fellowship is funded by the Freedman Foundation, a philanthropic foundation chaired by Laurence Freedman to assist young Australians in music and visual arts, as well as providing support to medical and scientific programs. Laurence and Kathy Freedman were made Members of the Order of Australia for service to the community, to medical research, the arts, and to business and investment in Australia. The Fellowships are managed by The Music Trust and administered by the Sydney Improvised Music Association.

For more information, visit www.themusictrust.com.au