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Featured Composer: James Mustafa

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James Mustafa is a well-known Australian composer, conductor and multi-instrumentalist. He is the founder and leader of the Melbourne Composers Big Band, artistic director of the Melbourne Big Band Festival, the sousaphonist of Horns Of Leroy and is the composer/bandleader of the James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra. 

James has completed studies at the Generations In Jazz Academy, Adelaide University School of Music and at the Sir Zelman School of Music at Monash University. He has studied under Paul Grabowsky, Maria Schneider, Graeme Lyall and Darcy James Argue. As a musician, James is best known for his work on trumpet, trombone, sousaphone, piano and accordion but also regularly performs on a variety of woodwind, basses and other instruments.

In 2013, James formed the James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra - a new ensemble made up of some of Australia's finest artists and creatives. In 2014, they released their debut album "The Last Sanctuary" which is now available under the JazzHead record label. In 2015, James was awarded the title of Australian Youth Jazz Artist of the Year for this recording.

As a composer, James has worked with a variety of ensembles from around the country and overseas. Highlight projects include arrangements and compositions with Vince Jones, the Birdland Big Band, the Arendal Big Band, Kate Ceberano, Daniel Merriweather, the Australian Royal Navy Big Band, Osunlade, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the One O'Clock Lab Band. He has performed in a number of festivals including the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Falls Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, White Night Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival and an assortment of music education conferences. Recently, James has also been involved in a variety of films and soundtracks including "Words and Pictures" (2014), "The Menkoff Method" (2014), "Graceful Girls" (2014) and "Magnetism" (2013). 

Playing highlights include performances with Maria Schneider, James Morrison, The Idea Of North, Scott Robinson, John Morrison, Tony Gould, George Garzone, Joe Camilleri, Invenio, Gerald Clayton, Wilma Reading and more. Awards and merits include the 3MBS – “Youth Composer Scholarship” (2009), the “Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year” for the Australian Jazz Bell Awards (2015) , Monash University Jazz Prize Scholarship (2014), the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music Jazz Composition Prize (2014) and the Composer in Residence at WAYJO (2015).

James Mustafa's new work Speak, without sound (2016) was featured in PLEXUS: Propulsion on 6 December 2016 at the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre.