Biography

Photo credit: Kim Jae Hee

Winner of the Inaugural Bell Award For Australian Jazz Musician of The Year 2003

‘protean, ethereal tenor saxophonist Evans in flights of scintillating, lucid post-Coltrane vernacular.’ Down Beat’s Fred Bouchard, reviewing Sandy Evans’ performance with Dutch percussionist Han Bennink at Wangaratta ’99

Sandy Evans: Tenor and Soprano saxophone, composer

Sandy Evans is an internationally renowned saxophonist and composer with a passion for improvisation and new music. In 2014 she was graduated with a PhD from Macquarie university and received a Churchill Fellowship to continue her research in India.

She leads the Sandy Evans Trio and Sextet, and co-leads the internationally acclaimed Clarion Fracture Zone. She is a member of MARA!, The catholics, the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), Ten Part Invention, austraLYSIS, Kim Sanders and Friends and SNAP. In 2004, together with composer Tony Gorman she launched the critically acclaimed 8 piece ensemble GEST8. Sandy’s suite When The Sky Cries Rainbows, recorded for ABC Jazztrack won the AIR Award for Best Independent Jazz CD in 2011.

Sandy has a keen interest in Indian classical music. She collaborates regularly with Sydney-based Indian musicians Sarangan Sriranganathan and Bobby Singh. Her CD Cosmic Waves featuring South Indian mridangam virtuoso Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani and Sruthi Laya is released in India on Underscore Records. Sandy recently competed a PhD at Macquarie University, researching Carnatic Jazz Intercultural music.  Sandy performed with the AAO Two Oceans ensemble in India for the HinduFest 2012. Sandy is a member of Ben Walsh’s Orchestra of the Underground and performed in his original score for the Bollywood classic “Fearless Nadia’ in 2012. In 2011 Sandy performed in Sydney and Melbourne with Padmashree Hariharan in the concert ‘Sruthi’. Sandy is a member of Chris Fields’ ensemble Atma Blu.

Sandy’s composition Testimony about the life and music of Charlie Parker with poetry by the Pulitzer prize winning American poet Yusef Komunyakaa has been a highlight of her career. Testimony, commissioned originally by ABC Radio, was premiered by the AAO in the Concert Hall at The Sydney Opera House for The Sydney Festival in January 2002. Testimony was released in the US in 2013 by Wesleyan University Press.

With percussionist Tony Lewis and koto player Satsuki Odamura, she co-leads the innovative world music trio Waratah. She is a featured soloist on Andrew Robson’s CD of music by Thomas Tallis Bearing the Bell and a guest soloist on The Andrew Robson Trio CD Songbook.

Sandy co-composed ‘Kali and The Time of Change’ the title track of The Sirens debut CD. She has composed a major work commissioned by the Sydney Opera House: The Beatitudes, for the Sydney Children’s Choir, 6 vocal soloists and a 25 piece ensemble of young musicians.

Sandy is an experienced teacher and inaugurated a Jazz Improvisation Course for Young Women run annually by SIMA. She was the director of this course until 2010. Sandy is the founding director of the UNSW Jazz Orchestra. She is currently a casual teacher at UNSW and in the Composition and Jazz departments at the Sydney Conservatorium.

She performed in the award winning show, The Theft of Sita, touring with the company in Australia, America and Europe.

She played Ross Edward’s Dawn Mantras on the roof of the Sydney Opera House at the dawn of the new millennium. In 2000 she also performed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Sydney.

She is a graduate of the Jazz Studies Course at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. She has also studied in the US, Germany, Hungary and the UK with the assistance of an Australia Council study grant.

She has played with and written for some of the most important groups in Australian jazz since the early 1980s including Great White Noise, The Bruce Cale Orchestra, the KMA Orchestra, Kristen Cornwell Qunitet, the Bernie McGann Trio, Judy Bailey, the Gai Bryant Quartet and Jeremy Sawkins. Her group Women and Children First was a ground-breaking ensemble during the 1980s, undertaking an epic seven month tour by bus around the whole of Australia. While living in Scotland in 1987, she played with the saxophone quartet SAXTC and the rhythm and blues band Tam White and The Dexters.

She has toured extensively in Australia, Europe, Canada and Asia. Some highlights have been the Chicago Jazz festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, WOMAD, the Brecon Festival, the Outside In festival, the Edinburgh Festival, Montreal and Vancouver Jazz festivals, the Knitting Factory (NY) the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, the Manly Jazz Festival, Sydney and Melbourne Jazz Festivals, the Brisbane Biennial, the Adelaide Festival, Jazz Yatra (India), the Sidmouth Folk Festival and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. She has toured Russia, China, Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Germany, Finland, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Fiji, Western Samoa, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and Hong Kong. She has been featured in several television programs for the ABC and Scottish television as well as radio broadcasts on the ABC, BBC and WDR (Germany). She appears in the Australian jazz documentaries Beyond el Rocco and Dr Jazz.

Sandy has been featured on over 40 albums.

Prizes, Awards and Honours

PhD Macquarie University, 2014 Vice Chancellor’s Commendation for Excellence

Churchill Fellowship, 2014

Performance of the Year, 2013 Art Music Awards for the Sandy Evans composition Meetings at the Table of Time (composer and performer) with The Australian Art Orchestra and Sruthi Laya

Best Independent Jazz CD, 2011 AIR Award for When the Sky Cries Rainbows

Order of Australia Medal, 2010 for contribution to Australian music

Australian Jazz Musician of The Year, 2003 Inaugural Bell Award

Most Performed Jazz Composition in 2003

Young Australian Creative Fellowship, 1996

Editors Choice, 1994 Record Poll, Cadence Magazine Zones On Parade (CFZ) 5 star rating, Down Beat Magazine

Jazz Composition of the Year, 1995 APRA Award for What This Love Can Do

Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Award, 1997 for Playground with (the late) Bernie McGann

ARIA Award, Best Australian World/Folk/Traditional Release, 1996 for Ruino Vino by MARA!

Jazz Performer of the Year, 1996 Mo Award

The catholics recording Simple nominated in JazzTimes Critics’ Picks as one of the top ten releases of 1995, and nominated for the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik award Germany

Best Jazz Group, 1995 Mo Award for The catholics

Mo Award, Female Jazz Performer of the Year, 1993

ARIA Award, Best Australian Jazz Recording 1990 for Blue Shift by Clarion Fracture Zone

Blue Shift: 5 star rating from JAZZTHETIK Magazine (Germany) Top 10 jazz albums produced in 1990 by The Jazz Times (USA) and Coda (Canada) magazines.

Tenor and soprano saxophone, composer