March 9, 2023

Christopher Hale

Today, the Spotlight shines On Australian jazz heavyweight Christopher Hale. 


Christopher has been called “one of the most unique and respected musicians in Australia” (Glam Adelaide) and an “unconventional virtuoso of the bass guitar” (The Age). His new release, Ritual Diamonds, came out on March 3 through Earshift Music. The work reimagines Korean ritual drumming and contemporary jazz, creating music that is mysterious, complex and beautiful. On it, Christopher is joined by collaborator and friend, Korean drumming innovator Minyoung Woo and a group rounded out by some of Australia’s finest jazz artists: Jamie Oehlers on saxophones, Andrea Keller on acoustic and electric piano, Theo Carbo, guitars and Simon Barker on drums.


Christopher was a very generous and engaged conversationalist, giving a lot of insight into his philosophies, process and approach. I hope our discussion spurs you to search out his music. 


About Christopher Hale and Ritual Diamonds

Host Lawrence Peryer

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Christopher Hale

Musician and writer

Christopher Hale is a rhythmic musician and writer from Melbourne, Australia. Beat magazine called him "one of Australia's most virtuosic and respected improvising musicians," while Rhythms magazine praised him as an "Australian jazz heavyweight and a brilliant, groundbreaking composer.” While he performs as a percussionist, mandolinist, and electronic musician, he is known as one of Australia's foremost exponents of the bass guitar.

Hale grew up among communities of Brazilian, Cuban, and flamenco musicians, and these rhythmic traditions had a formative impact on his musical approach. He draws on deep understandings of these styles to influence his personal approach to creative music.
He has performed with international artists such as Jim Black, Virgil Donati trio, Jo Lawry (with Sting and Jamey Haddad), Korean p’ansori master Bae Il Dong, Brad Shepik, and Jojo Mayer, among many others. In Australia, he is a vital part of the music community, regularly performing with notable artists and ensembles such as Andrea Keller, Julien Wilson, Paul Grabowsky, Scott Tinkler, Simon Barker, Jamie Oehlers, Sam Keevers, and Gian Slater. He was the Brazilian percussion specialist for Channel 7 television's Dancing with the Stars. As an electronic musician, Hale has contributed composition and production for releases by Barney McAll, New York-based Sylent Running and Gian Slater’s APRA Album of the Year “Grey Is Ground.”

A chance encounter in Seoul in 2011 led Hale to an interest in Korean drumming styles, especially the teaching system of hohŭp, a breathing and movement method for creating rhythm. Hale has since developed a body of research into Korean rhythm concepts and developed an original system for body-movement generated rhythm by assimilating the principles of hohŭp. This work is documented in an upcoming book on Routledge, the first detailed investigation of hohŭp in English (due for publication in 2023).

Hale received an Australia Council Fellowship in 2004, and in 2012 was awarded the prestigious Freedman Fellowship for Jazz, which is considered Australian music's "genius grant" by Music Forum. He holds a Masters degree focusing on Plato's Ion dialogue from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the University of Sydney. He is an Associate Artist with the Australian Art Orchestra and a faculty leader for its annual Creative Music Intensive educational residency. He has released five albums as a leader, including the critically acclaimed Sylvan Coda (2012) with flamenco dancer/percussionist Johnny Tedesco, and Ritual Diamonds (2023) featuring Korean percussion trailblazer Woo Minyoung. He has presented his original projects at major festivals, including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Adelaide Guitar Festival, and Sydney International Jazz Festival.