Michael McQuaid plays jazz and swing from the 1920s and 30s with remarkable energy and originality. He is an Australian multi-instrumentalist, regularly performing on clarinet, saxophones, trumpet and even occasionally piano. He has recently returned to Melbourne after spending 2015 travelling and performing around Europe and America.
Now 35 years old, McQuaid began performing with professional bands at the age of 15. He was mentored by many of Australia’s finest jazz musicians, including Ade Monsbourgh, Tom Baker and Paul Furniss.
Since moving to Melbourne in 2003 from his native Canberra, he has established himself as an acclaimed artist at top jazz events around the world, including appearing as a bandleader at the prestigious Wangaratta Festival Of Jazz aged just 21. He was nominated for the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist Of The Year 2006 by Graeme Bell AO, MBE, after whom the awards are named.
In 2004, he formed ‘Michael McQuaid’s Red Hot Rhythmakers’ to play vintage big band jazz from the swing era and beyond. This band toured Europe in June/July 2008 to widespread acclaim, and has released two albums. In November 2015, they performed at Hamer Hall, arguably Victoria’s finest concert hall – they will reprise this appearance in October 2017.
McQuaid also performs regularly with the captivating swing quartet the ‘Sweet Lowdowns’. This group is in demand throughout Australia, and received the Bell Award for Classic Jazz Album Of The Year 2008 for their second album, Cuttin’ Capers.
‘Michael McQuaid’s Late Hour Boys’, a band showcasing the music of Aussie jazz pioneer Ade Monsbourgh, toured Europe in 2010, appearing at the acclaimed Jazz Ascona festival in Switzerland, Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival in the UK, and the Riverboat Jazz Festival in Silkeborg, Denmark. They also appeared in Holland during October 2015, along with Italian guest multi-instrumentalist Mauro Porro.
McQuaid has toured the world as a featured artist and bandleader, featuring with his own groups and with the US/Australian collaboration the ‘Hot Jazz Alliance’. He has performed with the contemporary greats of 1920s and 1930s jazz – Keith Nichols, Vince Giordano, Bob Wilber, Spats Langham, Andy Schumm, Bob Barnard, Jon-Erik Kellso, Martin Litton, Bent Persson, Duke Heitger, Geoff Bull, Josh Duffee and many more.
‘…an acknowledged authority on this era of music…swinging…sensually lush‘ (Steve Robertson, broadcaster and jazz critic, Portland, US)
‘A fixture on the national jazz scene, he has also impressed overseas critics. So impressive, whether it’s the light sound of his Lester Young-inflected tenor or his fluid clarinet. A rare talent!’ (Kevin Jones, Australian jazz writer)
‘…one of those youthful heroes who can play a shopful of instruments…’ (Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives, New York, US)
‘…a first-class jazz improviser…’ (Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives, New York, US)
Influences and inspirations (in no particular order)
Pee Wee Russell