Since their self-titled first album became a top 20 best-seller upon its release in 2003, things have changed for Elixir!
Melbourne-based guitarist Stephen Magnusson, a major solo recording artist in his own right, joined the band in 2005 rounding out the trio. Katie’s husband Zac Hurren provides his mellifluous, lyrical saxophone lines, as distinctive a feature of the Elixir sound as Katie’s sublime vocals themselves.
While Katie is the obvious public focal point, Elixir is a trio of musical equals.
Regarded by many as Australia’s finest jazz guitarist, Stephen Magnusson has shared the limelight with the likes of Paul Grabowsky, Scott Tinkler, Michelle Nicole, Paul Kelly and Vince Jones. He was awarded the Swiss Diagonal Arts Grant and the Pop Kredit award in 1999, was co-winner of National Jazz Award the following year, and has been nominated for the Freedman Fellowship (twice) and the Melbourne Prize.
Zac Hurren won the National Jazz Award (in 2009), and is a truly unique and distinctly Australian saxophonist, composer and improviser. Steeped in the jazz heritage of Coltrane, Shorter, Coleman and Shepp, Zac’s debut album ‘Exordium‘ was released in Australia in 2007 on the Jazzhead label, receiving critical acclaim and heralding a triumphant new arrival on the contemporary jazz scene.
The second album by the trio “First Seed Ripening” was released in August of 2011. Debuting at #1 on the ARIA Jazz charts where it spent 9 weeks, “First Seed Ripening” then went on to take out the 2011 ARIA Award (Jazz category).
The response in press to the album and tour has been exciting and enthusiastic:
“like a samurai sword through silk….this enchanting, honest, intimate album can’t fail”
“The album’s 14 songs have a seductive pull, helped along by a Nick Drake-level tranquility and, naturally, our heroine’s effortless vocal style”
“filled with enchantment…Noonan’s voice, bare and beautiful against husband Zac Hurren’s intimate soprano sax and Stephen Magnusson’s expert jazz guitar, shines like a midnight star”
Sunday Herald Sun
The trio’s latest album ‘First Seed Ripening‘ is largely inspired by the words of legendary Australian poet (and winner of the 2000 Patrick White Award) Thomas Shapcott. In penetrating deep into the heart of Shapcott’s words, the trio enlisted the help of string players from the Australian Chamber Orchestra (with whom Katie has worked regularly), and leading jazz players Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Simon Barker on drums.
‘Our aim,’ Katie says of the album, ‘was to make gentle, intimate music, and it was all about freedom and spontaneity.’ Recording at an unhurried pace, the trio allowed themselves the time to explore every nuance of Shapcott’s subtle, deeply humane poetry.
But whilst the majority of songs on First Seed Ripening feature lyrics by Shapcott, there are also the kinds of inspired covers at which Elixir have always excelled. Joni Mitchell’s My Old Man comes in for particularly impressive treatment, while Split Enz’s I Hope I Never, composed by Katie’s song writing collaborator Tim Finn, makes for a particularly moving conclusion to the album.