Gemma Farrell is a Perth based jazz Saxophonist. She leads her own quintet and has a project based in Europe called MFG. MFG is about to record their second album and perform their second tour. She has played on 4 albums as a leader (or co-leader) and several as a “sideman.” She teaches saxophone and clarinet, and directs jazz bands at four different schools, and is the President of the Perth Jazz Society. She is the state-coordinator for WAYJO’s annual Young Women in Jazz program. Her composition “Requiem” was nominated for the 2015 WAM Song of the Year in the jazz category. In 2013 Gemma graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with a Master of Music degree.
How did you become involved in the station?
I was a regular guest on Giant Steps and Saturday Jazz, usually either to promote the Perth Jazz Society or my own music. I saw Warren at the launch of the PJS’s “Jazz Tuesdays” in March, and he asked me if I’d be interested in coming on as a fourth presenter. I then did the broadcasting course and here I am!
If stuck on Mars, what five albums could you not go without?
Now that’s tough. Charlie Hunter Quintet “Right Now Move” has been very influential to the way I compose my own music. Shirley Scott’s “Queen of the Organ” was my introduction to Stanley Turrentine, one of my favourite saxophonists, as well as my introduction to a very important female jazz musician. This is a recent find, but “The Bad Plus Joshua Redman” is a combination of two of my favourites. It’s particularly lovely. “Soul Station” by Hank Mobely is a classic, I love his sound and his musical “vocabulary.” Finally, “Poses” by Rufus Wainwright is an album that my husband and I have listened to a lot together, it evokes a lot of happy memories.
What is the best thing about being involved in the station?
It’s nice to think that I might introduce a listener to something they like enough to go out and buy. Especially a jazz tune. I know that people have bought my music after hearing it on RTRFM and it means a lot to me that they liked it enough to buy it, and the money has really helped. This kind of thing means a lot more to jazz musicians, and helps out jazz musicians, a lot more than it does to more commercial artists.
What is the strangest thing that has happened to you at RTRFM?
Nothing yet. There are a couple of interviews I did when I was a lot younger, that I thought I could have answered better. We talked about a couple of worse-case scenario situations in the broadcasting course, but hopefully I’ll be alright.
If you could present a show other than your own, which would it be and why?
Giant Steps would probably be the most logical one for me, although I really enjoy the discussions on Indy Media and also Breakfast. I’ve also been a guest on Art Beat and I love the soul music I’ve heard on it, I’d probably enjoy building up enough of that kind of repertoire to present a show.
What do you do in real life?
The short answer is “professional musician” but that term generally means you have to do a lot of entrepreneurial things. I teach instrumental music four days a week. I try to practice and compose as much as I can. I play gigs, I prefer original jazz gigs to “background music” gigs, even though they pay a lot less. I try to organize as much of those as I can. I also teach workshops and am involved in the administrative side with my work for the PJS. I am also lucky enough to have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I love my job, I’m very lucky to do lots of things that I love, but most of all I love spending time with them.