INTERVIEW: Hook Turn Orchestra

Hook Turn Orchestra is an eclectic nine piece ensemble of Melbourne’s most accomplished jazz musicians featuring an exquisite string quartet with members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria.

We had a chance to have a chat with Remco Keijzer, the Dutch-born jazz saxophonist/arranger and multi-instrumentalists to find out more about the band. So go grab your cuppa and read on!

Tell us about you – Hook Turn Orchestra. How did you all meet; what’s the story behind the name; what inspired you; tell us all!
Hook Turn Orchestra is collaboration between musicians, which was conceived at St Kilda’s Local Taphouse, a craft beer institute where locals gather to enjoy interesting brews from all over the world. Unlike most grand plans dreamed up at late night gatherings involving fermented beverages, this idea actually came to fruition.

Like a well-crafted beer, our orchestra was conceived of three key ingredients; Musical theatre star, Alinta Chidzey (West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hugh Jackman Tour); Violinist/arranger, Roger Young (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) and Dutch-born jazz saxophonist/arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Remco Keijzer (Alinta and the Jazz Emperors, You Am I, Michael Bublé, Metropole Orchestra).

Tell us more about the name behind Hook Turn Orchestra.
I’ve have been living in Melbourne for 9 years now. Originally I’m from Amsterdam, Holland. A miniature version of Melbourne with it’s trams and many bars and music venues.

I love living in Melbourne for many reasons but the main three would have to be 1. the coffee, Dutch coffee is more similar to the water that runs through the canals in Amsterdam so I was never to inspired to give it a go. 2. The space, Holland has around 20 million people living together in a space as big as Tasmania so for me Melbourne and Australia are very spacious and lastly Hook Turns.

We have a lot of trams and bicycles in Amsterdam but nothing is original and complicated as a Hook Turn. It is a unique Melbourne icon that resembles our orchestra. Unique, Melbourne based and a little different.

You mentioned Michael Bublé just before, do you perform with him?
I’m about the leave for Sydney to perform with him and his band. The musicians in his band are good friends of mine through my studies in New York at the Manhattan School of Music. The concert is next Friday (5 October 2018) so by the time this is published I will have performed with him.

What can audiences expect from Hook Turn Orchestra?
We value creativity and dreaming big. Our vibrant collective of devoted classical and jazz musicians is a feast of thoughtful, sensitive and colourful sounds. Our Debut album ‘Jazz and the Silver Screen’ will be launched on Sunday the 21st of October 2018. It is an eclectic collection of cinematic soundtracks. The reinventions of these works are the brainchild of Remco and Roger. Together, these musicians have combined to create arrangements that cross the divide between the genres of jazz and the classical stage. Each song is arranged to showcase the ensemble’s diversity and capture the distinct Hook Turn Orchestra We will be performing music from the album live including some new work and special guest performances.

What is the fondest memory as a band since your first performance?
There has been quite a few but one of the fondest memories was our trip up to Mackay (QLD) as a 9 piece. We were booked to play a Sunday morning concert for the closing of the Mackay festival. We arrived the day before and had a great time hanging out. As all our musicians are highly sought after in their scenes we hardly get time to hang out and enjoy each other’s company. These guys are very funny individuals.

What has been the biggest challenge as a band?
Our string players work full time with the MSO and Orchestra Victoria so to get them in the same room at the same time to work on our music is very challenging.

Roger, Alinta and I meet on weekly basis to discuss music. Roger Young was part of Australia’s Master Chef and made it to the last 20. This means that during our meetings there is often great food involved. Whenever we do end up rehearsing it is a great joy to hear the full ensemble and work on music at this level.

If you had one message to give to your fans, what would it be?
Listening to our music is much less stressful then doing a Hook Turn in Melbourne CBD! We would like to thank the fans for supporting our music and coming to our live shows. In this day and age it’s all about the live concerts. This is where we can connect with our fans and sell our music. There is no label behind our music so we do all our production and publicity ourselves and to actually meet the people that like our music is a great reward for the work.

Lastly, if the band were to perform in another country; where would it be and why?
That would have to be at the Rufollo Villa in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, Italy. Alinta and I went there for a holiday and there is a small town on top of the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. They built an outdoor stage overhanging the cliff resulting in breath taking views. Richard Wagner lived here for a while whilst working on his opera Parsifal.

Album Launch: 21 October 2018
Where: Alex Theatre
More information: here.

Jazz and The Silver Screen: 7 November 2018
Where: Cardinia Cultural Centre
More information: here.