Evan Mannell plays the drum set and often has good ideas. At the age of 31 Evan is fair and square on the hip list of Sydney drummers, forming the backbone of countless groups and artists on the jazz, indie-rock and underground scenes. With left-of-centre beats and furious improvising talent, the music is always sidestepping convention and taking the listener to that rare and valued place of excitement, emotion and anticipation.
Last year has seen Evan touring nationally with “They Will Have Their Way”, a large-scale celebration of the Finn brother’s music, featuring artists such as Lior, Claire Bowditch, Paul Dempsey and Sarah Blaskow. He was a shortlist finalist in the prestigious Freedman Fellowship awards, as well as a finalist in the National Jazz Award. Most recently he has been performing electronic music as part of City/Jungle with respected Sydney percussion group Synergy, and also behind Australian music legend Gurrumul.
The current projects that Evan either leads or co-leads are: the Alcohotlicks, a highly original and powerful trio comprising National Jazz Award winner Aaron Flower and 2010 Freedman Fellowship recipient Ben Hauptmann; the MFW, playing what they term “grunge-jazz”, a meaty interaction of late 80’s and early 90’s rock sounds with an electric bass, guitar drums jazz trio format; the Drip Hards, a post-Ornette anti-metric three-way adventure in with Carl Dewhurst and Cameron Undy; HIT!, a truly modern yet classic sounding Organ trio with Bell Award winner Stu Hunter and Sydney sax giant Matt Keegan; Soundgun, a sublime piano trio featuring Perth based pianist Tom O’Halloran and Australian jazz legend Jonathan Zwartz; Moth, a post-percusssion/prog group with Synergy Percussion’s Artistic Director Timothy Constable; Check My Machine, a new electronic/percussion group exploring Evan’s compositions for hybrid drum-sets, metals, tambourines and guitars; King Heist + the Red Hands, a ferocious jazz/blues explosion featuring Australian blues hero, Ray Beadle.
Evan also performs and tours regularly with the Zac Hurren trio, the Gerard Masters trio and as part of the Musica Viva in Schools programme performs interactive concerts across the country for primary school children with the Glorious Sousaphonics.
The last 12 years have seen Evan study a degree in Jazz performance at the Sydney Conservatorium and perform with James Muller, Dale Barlow, Mike Nock, James Morrison, Vince Jones, Jackie Orszacski, Tina Harrod, Beirut, Bertie Blackman, Old Man River, King Curly, King Tide, Florian Ross, Scott Tinkler, Faker, Katie Noonan to name a few. He has toured internationally with lauded young piano genius Aron Ottignon in his Aronas project and with gifted singer, Elana Stone, an artist he has long been associated with.
Evan, together with his now wife Zoe Hauptmann, was the co-Artistic Director of the Jazzgroove Association from 2005-2006 and during that time curated weekly double-bill performances, the 05 and 06 Jazz:Now festivals at the Opera House’s Studio and various other satellite events. Evan has been a presenting artist at Hobart’s Boiler Room festival for improvisation, performing with the Freedivers and improvised duets for drums and dance with Bec Ried. He was a National Jazz Awards finalist in 2004, a Freedman Fellowship Nominee in 2006 and the recipient of the James Morrison Scholarship in 1999. It was as a result of that award that he recorded his debut album fineline with now stalwarts of the Sydney jazz and improvising scene, Phil Slater, Carl Dewhurst and Cameron Undy. Evan can be heard on over 40 rock, pop, jazz and independent releases over the last 10 years, some of which can be found on the Jazzgroove records label.
Evan lives in Bardwell Park with his beautiful wife Zoe Hauptmann. Apart from working on lowering his golf handicap, currently at 15, his spare time is devoted to trying to finish the home studio, making a mean Bolognese sauce and walking his dog, Ringo.