Research Seminar: Brendan Clarke

Research Seminar: Brendan Clarke

To Go Beyond: Creative Practice in a Spiritual Context

Within the jazz and improvised music traditions, particularly in the Unites States, there have been a number of prominent artists such as Duke Ellington, John & Alice Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Rollins, Charles Lloyd, and John McLaughlin who openly practiced a form of spirituality that informed their musical practice. Through a practice-based autoethnographic study I will document how my own development as a jazz performer, improviser and composer is directly influenced by an academic and participatory immersion into spiritual and religious practices and philosophies. This will be compared with the work of some of the significant jazz artists already mentioned. In addition, through a series of interviews, I will connect with prominent living Australian and international jazz and improvising artists who practice a form of spiritual and/or religious practice. I will conduct a survey as to how these practices and beliefs can inform, influence, inspire and integrate spirituality into their own creative practice. During the interview process I will participate in a spiritual practice chosen by the interviewee and we will engage in a process of applied music creation, either a session of improvisation, the playing of a piece of music together and/or the composition of a new work. From this experience as well as from my systematic investigation of spiritual practices conducted with the One Spirit Seminary in the United States, I will build a knowledge base through which I will work to understand how this ‘deeper’ level of connection affects musical outcomes. My final submission will include new works comprised of live performances and recordings, newly improvised works, performances, and new compositions. My research will demonstrate an application of the spiritual skills and tools that significant, established artists facilitate ‘To Go Beyond’ their personal and artistic limitations.


Brendan Clarke is one of Australia’s premier bassists.  Highly proficient on both double and electric bass and across a wide variety of styles, he has been active on the national scene for over twenty-five years. He has performed and toured extensively both overseas and around Australia with a host of international and Australian jazz artists including Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Joe Farnsworth, Carl Allen, Kirk Lightsey, Charles McPherson, Dale Barlow, Bernie McGann, James Morrison, and Vince Jones to name a few. Brendan has played on over seventy-five albums as both sideman and leader.  In 2001 he was the winner of the National Jazz Award held at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.

Brendan is a highly respected and experienced educator. He was a lecturer at the Jazz Music Institute (JMI) in Brisbane for five and a half years and is now an associate lecturer at the Australian National University (ANU) School of Music and at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In 2020 Brendan commenced a PhD at ANU, his topic explores spirituality and creative practice.

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Members of the public or those unable to attend in person may join via Zoom here.
Meeting ID: 864 9883 0235 Password: 116497


Date & time

Thu 22 Apr 2021, 3.30–5pm


Kingsland Room, Level 6, ANU School of Music


Brendan Clarke


Prof. Samantha Bennett
+61 2 6125 5761


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