Louise Denson is a pianist, composer/arranger and educator. She holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium (Brisbane) where she is a Senior Lecturer in Jazz Studies. She completed her Masters in Jazz at New England Conservatory (Boston) in the mid-1990s, studying with such luminaries as Paul Bley, George Russell and Joe Maneri. She has issued 4 CDs containing original music, two on the Newmarket label and two independently.
Denson’s unique musical personality is characterized by an emphasis on melody and rich, contemporary jazz harmony. Her extended tenures in Afro-Cuban and Dominican dance orchestras in Montreal during the 1990s influenced her musical tastes, resulting in a frequent Latin flavour in her compositions.
Denson’s CDs contain 30 original compositions. Her CD Clean Start won a Queensland Sunnie Award (jazz category), and her composition ‘Time to be’ (Denson/James) received the Queensland Music Award (jazz category). Several of her compositions have been finalists or highly commended in recent rounds of the Queensland Music Awards, including ‘All I know’ (Denson/Hoyt), which was recorded by Bell Award-winning vocalist, Elly Hoyt. ‘Lonely wing’ (Denson/James) has been published in the first Australian Jazz Real Book, and ‘Lost my heart’ (Denson/James) was recorded by the L.A. based San Gabriel Seven featuring the internationally celebrated Bill Watrous on trombone. She is an Associate Artist with the Australian Music Centre where many of her compositions are catalogued.
Denson has completed commissions for the Southern Cross Soloists, the Brisbane International Jazz Festival, and St. Paul’s Anglican School Senior Band. “Two Boleros” was recorded by Muses Trio in 2016 and received frequent ABC airplay. Wild Silk Strings Project, a jazz sextet with string trio, has recorded 14 of her compositions and arrangements for a CD to be released in April 2018. Her composition ‘Wild December wind’ was recorded by the Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra, and was included in the repertoire for their 2012 European tour. ‘Out of my way' was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg in July 2015. Her recent unpublished work acknowledges her early training in classical music. ‘Resolve’ was premiered by Brisbane chamber groups Trichotomy and Collusion in 2014, while three art song cycles were premiered by New-Zealand soprano Sarah Court in 2015 and 2016. ‘Pondside’ was recorded by the Barega saxophone quartet for a digital album released in June, 2015.
As a performer, Denson has appeared with her own groups at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Melbourne International Women’s Jazz Festival, Manly Jazz Festival, Brisbane International Jazz Festival, Valley Jazz Festival, Brisbane Festival (Spiegeltent), and Broadbeach Jazz Festivals, among others. She has collaborated with musicians of national and international renown such as Downbeat poll-winning trombonist Bill Watrous, vocalist Ingrid James, saxophonists Sandy Evans, Julien Wilson, John Mackey, Martin Kay, James Sandon, Frank Lozano and Adrian Cunningham, trumpeters Miro Bukowsky, Aron Doyle, Bob Schultz and Paul Armstrong, pianist Steve Newcomb, bassists Michel Donato, Mike Milligan, Helen Russell Andrew Shaw, drummers Paul Hudson, Gary Fieldman and Paul Leger.
“…a marvellously gifted composer…for those looking for an original voice within the Latin jazz movement, this is a good place to start.” Thomas Erdmann
“…expertly crafted compositions from Denson make for a colourful, joyous and spirited journey." Sandy Evans, saxophonist/composer, OAM
“…[Denson’s compositions] are not just improvising vehicles, they are pieces, which, with their rhythmic momentum and attractive chord changes, all but ensure that strong improvisations emerge…” Limelight Magazine
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