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Robbie Melville is a guitarist and composer, and he had a chat with Friends With Wendy and Pete

Updated: May 16, 2023

He began performing in his teens, and in 2005 was offered the Principal Guitar Chair in the Australian Pops Orchestra, appearing at Hamer Hall and the Sydney Opera House with artists such as James Morrison, Marina Prior, and Guy Sebastian.

Melville’s compositions have garnered several awards. Most recently he became a recipient of the 2021 Johnny Dennis Music Award. In 2016 he was awarded both the Industry and Orkeztra prizes in the Composition Competition for world music ensemble Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde with the piece ‘Tango In Pusan’. He was awarded first place for ‘Junkyard’ in the Instrumental Category of the 2018 International Song writing Competition, a competition that amassed over 19,000 entries. The same song was shortlisted for the 2021 Composition-To-Choreography Competition "MadeBy", an initiative of OneMusic Australia and the Australian arm of the Royal Academy of Dance.

In 2007 his quintet Cleverhorse independently released the album ‘Goodnight, Mr. Monster’ featuring an eclectic range of Robbie’s compositions. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “They are onto something. They are undoubtedly creative”. Their second album ’50:fifty’ was released on the prestigious Jazzhead label in 2016.

Melville’s trio Antelodic released its debut album ‘Quiet Sufficient’ in 2017. Billy Pinnell wrote, “Antelodic…have created a sonically daring, accessible masterpiece”. 2019 found the trio road testing new material during a series of shows in London in preparation for their next record.

In March 2020 this new material was released as the album, ‘To Iceland! To Iceland!’ on ABC Jazz. Award winning Australian saxophonist Julien Wilson wrote, “Melville’s compositions are beguiling, but it’s the way they’re realised by the whole group that makes this recording so special. There’s plenty of intrigue, but always room to breathe". The album was supported by a national Australian tour.

Robbie’s propensity for musical variety, and sensitivity as an accompanist, has seen him engage in a diverse number of collaborative enterprises. He has worked on recordings for artists such as Shane Howard, John Murry and Liz Frencham, toured internationally with Irish musicians Mundy and Roesy, performed with harpist/singer Mary Doumany, Krystle Warren, Nat Bartsch, Gallie, Aine Tyrrell, Carl Pannuzzo, Stephen Magnusson, Zoe Frater, Kristina Olsen, and Sarah Carroll.

He has composed and recorded music for The Australian Diamond Company, the Chinese/American short film, ‘Hidden Truths’, and the British documentary ‘Genus’. His combined interest in improvisation and silent film led him to form the Easy Street Ensemble, a stable of rotating musicians who improvise live soundtracks to silent films.

He currently works as the in-house guitarist and musical arranger for Mark Stanley’s Red Room Recording Studio, teaches guitar, and performs regularly with Antelodic, his new sextet the smallCHESTRA, and with his trio and solo projects.

While subtly evading expectations, Robbie Melville loads his music with a restrained melancholy conveying innocence rather than knowingness, the upshot being an unusual emotional ambiguity blending resignation and contentment - John Shand (Sydney Morning Herald 2021)

Robbie’s style of minimalistic jazz is unique and distinctive, perfectly phrased and placed, but remains unpredictable - Indigo Music.

For more information on Robbie


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