Kerin Bailey was born in Kadina, a rural town 150 kilometres north west of Adelaide, Australia, in 1949. He commenced piano lessons at age seven and his interest in jazz dates from then. He began playing for local dances and concerts at eleven, a key element in developing his improvisational skills.
In 1978 he graduated from the University of Adelaide with an Honours degree in music, majoring in Classical piano performance under renowned concert pianist and teacher Lance Dossor. Trumpet was studied as a second instrument and later flute and violin. Since then he has enjoyed a varied career in music including eight years as a music lecturer with TAFE, contracts with the University of SA, and continues to be in demand as a professional musician and teacher.
Composition initially came in response to a practical need – recital pieces for students and collaboration with writer/lyricist Dave Brown on several critically acclaimed youth musicals. The experience of working at close hand with young aspiring musicians has enabled Bailey to refine his unusual skill of being able to compose in a way which is not only musical but also accessible to students in the early to upper intermediate grades. His classical training ensures all pieces are composed using proven classical techniques.
Bailey’s introduction of syncopated freshness and originality – a cross-over mixture of jazz and classical styles – has also made his music attractive to examining bodies around the world. Commissions include organ and vocal works for Trinity College London; piano, trumpet and saxophone pieces for the AMEB; music and a CD for the Gillian Rubenstein play Each Beach; and arrangements for the CD A Golden Christmas for flute and harp (Move Records MD 3169).
How would you describe yourself in 5 words? One word will do – average. (The 5 words were a co-incidence!)
What makes you smile? Watching a video clip of Carmen McCrae and Oscar Peterson live in 1988 recently brought a spontaneous smile. (#1 is spending time with my 7 year old son)
What scares you the most? Snakes.
Are you a bathroom singer? Sometimes. I don’t have a voice unfortunately.
What type of music do you like to play the most? Classical/jazz. Actually Jazz/classical.
What type of music do you like to write the most? I like writing songs most – doesn’t happen often.
Do you have time to just noodle around and play for yourself or is it always work right now? Mostly work. I do enjoy playing my newish C6 when the lounge room is free – not often.
How do you describe what you do professionally? Pianist, Piano Teacher, Composer, Music Publisher – in roughly that order.
Are you doing today what you dreamed of when you were younger? No! (I had no idea as a kid!). I love aeroplanes and actually learned to fly when I was 61. Stopped when the above-mentioned son arrived 2 years later. He probably saved my life!
What advice do you have for someone who wants are career doing what you do (or hope to do!)? I always advise my students not to get into music professionally. (A few have)
Where do you think you will be after 25 years? Underground!