Joe O’Connor (he/him) is a Melbourne based pianist and composer engaging with improvised, notated and experiment practices. He is currently exploring delicate harmonic sensibilities that unfold slowly in asymmetrical cycles.
Joe’s album Eclogue with Tim Green and Theo Carbo was released in 2021 on Brooklyn based label 577 Records; its fragile electroacoustic sound worlds are characterised by “gently wafting harmonics, low hum and controlled feedback” (Daniel Spicer: Jazzwise). In 2020, Joe also released SOFT through People Sound, an album of electroacoustic studio compositions that “shimmer with tension and energy” (Joe Cummins: Loudmouth).
Other recent works include electroacoustic composition Partial Disclosure, performed by ACME for 2017 Melbourne Festival – Doppler, a co-creation with Alistair McLean performed by ACME at 2019’s Due West festival – The Past in My Present, a chamber work for Arts Centre Melbourne’s 5x5x5 program (2017) – new compositions for a piano duo with Sydney based artist Steve Barry – Vignettes for Penny Quartet, premiered at MRC in 2018 and performed during their 2019 Musica Viva regional program - and an album Time Together, Time Apart with Svoboda/Green/O’Connor (release pending, 577 Records). Joe has also composed original works for the Monash Art Ensemble (Confrontations, released 2016 on their album Histories), Unfix (If We Were a Place, released 2016 on their album Self Aware of Myself), Ensemble Offspring (Omphalos, for Hatched Summer school), and the Bennetts Lane Big Band, which he co-directed for the final two years of its residency.
Joe is acclaimed for his distinctive approach to jazz piano and composition. He won the National Jazz Award (2013) and the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Musician of the Year (2014). He was a finalist in the 2016 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, the 2015 APRA professional development awards, and was a semi-finalist in the 2017 National Jazz Awards on his second instrument, the trombone. Joe was also the 2016 recipient of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz commission, which allowed him to develop a new work for drummer James McLean, bassist Marty Holoubek and legendary trumpet virtuoso Scott Tinkler. The ABC’s live recording from Wangaratta Jazz Festival was released independently as Confrontations (2018), his second album following Praxis (2015).