Local talent Rafael Karlen is in tune with international acts…

On opening night of the Brisbane International Jazz Festival, Rafael Karlen will be one of four Queensland composers welcoming in the week-long event.

“I know a few others are writing one or two pieces, but I’m writing a 20 minute suite,” he says. “I like to explore one theme in detail.”

His new album, The Sweetness of Things Half-Remembered, will be launched during the festival as part of a double bill.

Karlen says he feels very lucky to be rubbing shoulders with international greats such as Joshua Redman and Julian Arguelles.

“This year is the second year of it being an international festival, so these huge artists will be coming,” he says. “To bring in heavyweights, it’s just incredible. I’m super excited.”

While his opening night piece explores the theme of ‘arrivals and prospects’, it’s the concept of reminiscing and reflection that has Karlen captivated – his new record is decidedly wistful.

“I really explore the emotions of nostalgia and longing,” he says. “Hopefully it’s not too sappy.”

Karlen collaborated with the Rosenberg String Quartet on the album, which he says required a very different creative process.

“Usually I work with a 10-piece brass band, but this was different because string players don’t interact with jazz musicians as often; they have a different skill set. It’s refreshing not just working with trumpets and trombones.”

Catch Rafael Karlen, Steve Newcomb and the Rosenberg String Quartet, 8 June at the Queensland Multicultural Centre. Visit Brisbane Jazz Festival.