Fields brings Afro-Indian Jazz Collective to Festival

Just one of the headline acts for the upcoming WollCon Jazz Festival

There’s nothing unusual about playing over 20 different types of drums… not if you’re Chris Fields.

A third-generation drummer originally from the USA, Chris Fields is one of WollCon’s newest drum and percussion teachers, and is unique for his in-depth knowledge of North-Indian Tabla, Cuban Percussion and North American Drumkit.

He’s excited to be bringing a new sound to WollCon’s Jazz Festival with his Afro-Indian Collective which will feature legendary Australian musicians and long-time collaborators, as well as a special international guest Pirashanna Thevarajah (pictured below), who has only recently moved to Australia from the UK.

“I’m incredibly honoured to have Pirashanna as part of our group and performing in Wollongong for the very first time. He is one of the leading South Indian Percussionists in the world.”

Chris Fields

Drum Teacher, Musician and Composer, WollCon

Pirashanna Thevarajah

Chris Fields credits his father (Jerry Fields) for introducing him to the sounds of Jazz Drumkit, Afro-Cuban Percussion, and North Indian Tabla…which Chris continued training intensively in the traditional way under the guidance of Pandit Ram Chandra Suman as well as the legendary Pandit Shankar Ghosh & Pandit Sanju Sahai.

Chris began playing and recording professionally at the age of 15 and has performed all over the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico, playing everything from Jazz and R&B to Salsa and Indian Classical Music.

Chris with his Father Jerry in 1993

Photo: Chris (seated) with his father Jerry in 1993

Since moving to Sydney in 2001, Chris has become a unique voice in cross-cultural music…sharing the stage with top artists from Australia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Puerto Rico, Africa…and more.

His new Afro-Indian Jazz Collective to play at the inaugural Jazz Festival in September will bring together the three main streams of his musical training: Jazz, Afro-Cuban Music & Indian Classical Music.

The “Collective” consists of long-time collaborators Sandy Evans (sax), James Greening (trombone) and Stuart Vandegraaff (woodwinds) as well as newer members Dominic Kirk (Cuban Percussion); Lucy Clifford (bass) and special guest Pirashanna Thevarajah on South Indian Percussion.

“I’ve known Sandy, James and Stuart for many years.  Sandy, James and I first met playing with Kim Sanders (one of the pioneers of cross-cultural music in Australia) around 2010.  The musical connection was instantaneous and we have continued to work together in different projects over the years.  Sandy and James were also members of my previous band Atma Blu which released an album in 2016.  Stuart and I are also long-time collaborators in many cross-cultural projects.” – Chris

“I have spent many years studying and performing music from these traditions (Jazz, Afro-Cuban Music & Indian Classical Music) and my compositions attempt to combine ideas and elements of all three into an organic and meaningful improvisational language.”

Chris Fields

“Dominic Kirk is considered one of the finest percussionists in Australia, who has studied for many years in Cuba and is in fact Australia’s only Olu-Bata (Priest of Aña Sacred Bata drums).  “I have known Dom since he was 15…he has become one of my musical heroes and I instantly thought of him for this project.”

“There’s also Lucy Clifford on bass guitar who I had the pleasure of meeting last year where I played and recorded with her band The Lucy Clifford Sextet.  She has one of the best grooves of any bass players I have worked with…which is incredible for someone so young!” – Chris

Catch ‘Afro-Indian Jazz Collective’ (generously supported by Benjamin & Dawson Lawyers) at the WollCon Jazz Festival.

Sunday 17th September, 11am-5pm
Wollongong Conservatorium of Music
Tickets: $15 – $35

Jazz Festival artwork