From Brazilian and Cuban music to flamenco and jazz, bassist Christopher Hale has spent much of his career immersing himself in musical traditions from around the world. But, far from being a dilettante, he has always set about exploring these traditions from the inside – studying not just the form and the repertoire of a particular musical style, but the culture, language and spirit that lies at its heart.”
Multi-instrumentalist Christopher Hale (29) is emerging as one of the most distinctive musicians in Australian improvised music. The UK born performer/composer has been garnering rave reviews as one of the leaders of a new generation of Australian improvising musicians, and is widely recognised as one the country’s foremost exponents of the bass guitar. His unique approach to the six-string acoustic bass is characterised by a highly developed and complex harmonic awareness (particularly his unique chordal approach), formidable rhythmic strength and a fluid and agile melodic sensibility, informed by an expansive range of influences and experiences. He has performed throughout Australia and across the US, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Denmark and the South Pacific at major festivals and events, including the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, the Banff Cello Festival, Live en Aout (Noumea), almost every major Australian music festival and in clubs and concerts halls across the US and Europe.
A diverse musical upbringing took Hale through many different musical worlds. The early influence of the Brazilian music of Choro became Hale’s first love, beginning with his fist performances on bass the pandeiro, a technically demanding percussion instrument. From this point of departure, Hale discovered Afro-Cuban music and began with touring with Cuban musicians while still a teenager, including Afro Cuban All Stars trumpeter Barbarito Teuntor.
In 1996 Hale began studying jazz and improvisation at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. During this time he commenced his life as a freelance musician, developing a love for the life of a working player, performing in different styles and contexts each night, from rock pubs and jazz venues to concert halls and recording studios. Hale has worked with leading jazz musicians in Australia and overseas, including Joe Chindamo, Fiona Burnett, and John Stetch (USA) among many others. Hale’s insightful and intuitive accompaniment style has made him a sought after choice for many singers, including Kate Ceberano, Debra Byrne, Christine Sullivan, Gian Slater and rockers Tim Rogers and Max Merritt. Folk music continues to play a large part in Hale’s development, touring internationally playing bodhran and mandolin for all-Ireland fiddle star Mossie Martin and as percussionist for legendary Australian guitarist Doug de Vries. Hale has also been heavily involved in electronic music, and with trip-hop act Velure was a Triple J ‘Next Crop’ artist and worked with legendary Norwegian producer the late Erik Lloyd Wolkoff.
His immersion in Flamenco, which has perhaps been the strongest influence and passion in Hale’s musical life, has taken him to Spain and numerous tours with the acclaimed dance company Arte Kanela.
He is an award winning composer and instrumentalist, including prizes from the Australia Council’s Young and Emerging Artist Program and performing as a finalist in the 2001 National Jazz Awards. In 2004 Hale received an Australia Council Fellowship for work with the Christopher Hale Ensemble, an ‘improvising chamber group’, that performs original material and arrangements of classical repertoire. Hale has released three albums with this group, most recently Kodály (We Are None of Us Precious) (UAR), a collaboration with American trombonist Josh Roseman, which was launched in New York in April 2006 and in Europe at the prestigious Copenhagen Jazz Festival. The group has been featured in live concert broadcasts for ABC Classic FM and was included in Arts Victoria’s top cultural exports for 2006.
Hale maintains a busy performing career in Australia and internationally, while holding tutoring positions at the Victorian College of the Arts and NMIT (Melbourne) and as a co-opted consultant for Arts Victoria’s funding programs.
Recent Press for Kodály (We Are None of Us Precious) 2007
“Beautiful, unflinching and richly textured with stirring melodicism, inky darkness and brooding virtuosity – Kodály (We Are None of us Precious) is Hale’s most accomplished and expansive work yet.” Herald Sun HIT
“Gorgeously subtle and evocative music that sounds like nothing else around. This is a major work.” Inpress
“You know this is no ordinary trip – here is an album replete with carefully rendered yet brooding atmospherics, full of shifting meters that live and breathe.” The Age Green Guide
“eight tracks of richly textured passages of elegant improvisation . . . the experience of this album will surprise and delight.” PBS magazine
“conversational passages flow and drop with exquisite grace and poise . . . an incredibly open, infinitely inviting release.” Mess+noise magazine