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Divergence Jazz Orchestra Feature the Music of Rafael Karlen on September 17 at the Foundry 616 in Sydney. 

I am very excited to have the Divergence Jazz Orchestra feature a full set of my music. This 18-piece band showcases many of Sydney's finest young jazz musicians. It's going to be really fun sitting in as a guest soloist on a few tunes too. Woohoo!

'Led by composer Jenna Cave and trombonist Paul Weber, Divergence Jazz Orchestra is made up of 18 of Sydney’s most accomplished young jazz musicians; receiving critical acclaim for their 2013 album release 'The Opening Statement'.
At this upcoming performance at Foundry616, Divergence Jazz Orchestra will be presenting music by award-winning composer and saxophonist Rafael Karlen (Brisbane), alongside some new works by band members. Rafael will be joining Divergence off the back of his recent album launch and commissioned composition premiere at the 2014 Brisbane International Jazz Festival. 

“Divergence Jazz Orchestra is one of Australia’s keepers of the big band flame…An astonishing array of Australia’s best and brightest” - John Hardaker,

“Superb playing and compositions”- Ivan Lloyd, ABC Jazz

“Four stars”- John McBeath, The Australian


FOUNDRY616- 616 Harris St, Ultimo.

Tix $20/$15 at the door, prebooked tix and table booking available online.

TROMBONES – Paul Weber (Co-Musical Director, lead), Brendan Champion, Tim Coggins, Luke Davis(bass);
TRUMPETS AND FLUGELHORNS- Matthew Collins (lead), Paul Murchison, Luke Stephens, Paul Meo, Will Gilbert;
SAXOPHONES AND WOODWINDS- Justin Buckingham (lead alto, soprano, flute), Joshua Willard (alto, clarinet), Evan Harris (tenor, soprano, flute), Louis Klassen (tenor), Anna Leckie (baritone);
RHYTHM- Luke Liang (guitar), Andrew Scott (piano), David Groves (bass), James McCaffrey (drums);
GUEST COMPOSER- Rafael Karlen (soloist -tenor sax)'


E.M.O. "Long Way Home" Album Launch at JMI Live August 7 

The Brisbane-based big band E.M.O (the Enthusiastic Musicians Orchestra) will launch their third album, "Long Way Home," in their spiritual home for the past few years, JMI Live. This album was recorded over two fantastic nights earlier this year and features music by Joshua Hatcher, Wade Gregory, Andrew Garton, Lachlan Bell and myself.

Supporting E.M.O. on the night will be the fabulous JMI Orchestra, featuring the talents of JMI students.

Thursday 8pm
JMI Live, Exhibition st, Bowen Hills

I hope to see you there!

For more information please click on the link below.

DeClassified Music Long Weekender Festival Saturday July 12 

I am thrilled to have been commissioned to write a new work for jazz vocals, sax and piano inspired by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa's 2013 acrylic on linen Bushfire break (185cm x 185cm) courtesy of the artist and FireWorks Gallery in Newstead. I had the luxury of visiting the Gallery and selecting a work as inspiration for this project. There were many beautiful pieces in FireWorks Gallery but I was particularly engaged by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa's powerful painting.
 I am very excited to have the outstanding Kristin Berardi and Sean Foran joining me for this performance.  We have the added luxury of performing on a beautiful Steinway and Sons piano courtesy of Theme and Variations. Please come along to support this really inspiring project.

In addition to premiering this specifically composed work we will also feature recently composed material of mine commissioned for the opening of the 2014 Brisbane International Jazz Festival in June.

Kristin Berardi -voice
Sean Foran - piano
Rafael Karlen - saxophone

The second half will feature The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky arranged for pianos and percussion. Heavy.

Viney & Grinberg Piano Duo - Brisbane
Vanessa Tomlinson   (percussion) - Brisbane
Claire Edwardes        (percussion) - Sydney

Saturday July 12, 6pm
Fireworks Gallery
52a Doggett St, Newstead

Tickets: $10/Student, $20/under 30 year old, $30/Adult


The Rafael Karlen Quartet play the Brisbane Jazz Club, June 29 

I will be playing with my new quartet at the Brisbane Jazz Club on Sunday June 29 from 6-9pm. I am really  looking forward to playing with Dave Spicer, Andrew Shaw and Joe Marchisella. We will be performing a mix of my original material, Jazz Standards and Contemporary European Jazz. It will be fun exploring 3 sets of nice material with a great band. I hope to see you there.

Dave Spicer - piano
Andrew Shaw - bass
Joe Marchisella - drums
Rafael Karlen - saxophone

Brisbane Jazz Club
1 Annie St, Kangaroo Point
Sunday 29 June, 6-9pm
Tickets: $10/20/25

For more information or to purchase tickets please visit:

Debut performance - The Sweetness of Things Half-Remembered, June 8 

I am super excited to be premiering music from my new album, The Sweetness of Things Half-Remembered on June 8 as part of the Brisbane International Jazz Festival.
This recording features my works for String Quartet, improvising pianist and saxophonist. The seriously creative pianist Steve Newcomb and a very lush string quartet consisting of Rebecca Karlen, Eugenie Costello-Shaw, Alice Buckinham and Danielle Bentley join me.
‘In The Sweetness of Things Half-Remembered, composer and saxophonist Rafael Karlen seamlessly draws together elements from jazz and Western art music through skillful composition and tasteful improvisation. The inventive and lyrical playing of pianist Steve Newcomb and saxophonist Rafael Karlen is showcased soaring over the beautiful musical environments and colorful string textures of the Rosenberg String Quartet.’
2013 National Jazz Award winning pianist Joseph O’Connor will perform after us with a solo piano set. It will be heavy.

Rafael Karlen - tenor saxophone
Steve Newcomb - piano
Rebecca Karlen - violin
Eugenie Costello-Shaw - violin
Alice Buckingham - viola
Danielle Bentley - cello

Brisbane International Jazz Festival
When:Sunday June 8, 3pm
Where:Queensland Multicultural Centre
            102 Main St. Kangaroo Point
Tickets: $20/25 

For more information please visit:

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts.


Brisbane International Jazz Festival Commission June 4 

I am thrilled to write a 20-minute work commissioned for the opening night of the Brisbane International Jazz Festival on June 4.
I feel very privileged to write for and play with many of my favourite musicians.
My quintet will feature internationally award-winning vocalist Kristin Berardi, renowned pianist Steve Newcomb and the formidable bass and drum team of Owen Newcomb and Joe Marchisella. It has been a great experience working with wordsmith Euan Gray who is writing the text for this project.
‘Arrivals and Prospects is a new 20-minute exploring the tension of viewing moments as a constant departure or as a constant arrival. Through a series of shorter movements, Arrivals and Prospects traverses the charged landscapes of nostalgia and lingering reflection, across to the anticipation and excitement of a future destination.’
June 4 is also my Birthday! Woohoo.
There will also be three other premiers by Queensland composers Sean Foran, Louise Denson and Andrew Butt as part of Queensland Week.

Kristin Berardi- voice
Steve Newcomb- piano
Owen Newcomb- bass
Joe Marchisella- drums
Rafael Karlen- saxophone
Brisbane International Jazz Festival
Wednesday June 4, 7.30pm
Tickets: $20/25
Queensland Multicultural Centre
102 Main St. Kangaroo Point
For more information please visit


Divergence Jazz Orchestra (Sydney) perform at SIMA on Thursday 10 April 

I am really excited to have the 18-piece Divergence Jazz Orchestra perform some of my music at an upcoming concert on April 10 at SIMA in Sydney. This ensemble features many of Sydney's most accomplished young jazz musicians.

'At this upcoming concert presented in partnership with SIMA, Divergence will premiere a new set of Australian music by composers Cam McAllister, Bill Motzing, Elliot Hughes, Rafael Karlen, Jenna Cave and Paul Murchison; traversing the borders of big band music with minimalism, jazz-rock fusion, free improvisation, and poly-rhythmic grooves.'

When: 8:30pm, Thursday April 10 2014

Where: Sound Lounge, Seymour Centre, City Rd Chippendale

Tickets: $20/15/10 available here

Under 18s/kids  welcome with adult supervision

More information can be found on the link below

EMO Live recording at JMI Live Wed 26 and Thursday 27 March 

The Enthusiastic Musicians Orchestra (EMO) are recording a new live album over two night this week at JMI Live. This will be their third album and will feature compositions by many of Brisbane's most active Jazz composers and arrangers including Andrew Garton, Josh Hatcher and Wade Gregory. They will record my compositions Drift, which was was a finalist in the JGMO/APRA National Big band Composition Competition a few years ago and My Folk Song which was commissioned for the Q150 Birthday Celebrations in 2009 to mark 150 years of Queensland as an independent state. I'm really looking forward to this gig.

Wednesday 26th March

8pm – EMO Big Band

STUDENT NIGHT – All Student Card holders who sign up to EMO’s mailing list on the night will receive FREE entry.

All other patrons $10EMO

Thursday 27th March

$10 entry

6pm – Early Jam Session
10pm – Late Jam Session


'After many years of wowing Brisbane jazz fans with their original big band repertoire, the band has amassed over 100 pieces specifically written with EMO in mind. EMO will be recording this journey through Brisbane jazz at what has quickly grown to be the go-to Brisbane venue for original improvised music, JMI Live. Many of the pieces to be recorded were debuted at this very venue, so it seems only fitting to bring them back to their spiritual home to be put down on record. With stalwart Brisbane composers and arrangers such as Andrew Garton, Rafael Karlen, Josh Hatcher and Wade Gregory to be featured, the recording sessions promise to be two great nights of sophisticated yet energetic musicianship.'

More information can be found by clicking the link below

Debut performance with the new Rafael Karlen Trio, 25/2/14 at The Centre, Beaudesert 

I am very excited and feel privileged to perform with my new trio with award winning vocalist Kristin Berardi and super-talented pianist Steve Newcomb at an Arts Dinner to support the development of Creative and Cultural Industries across and beyond the Scenic Rim and to launch the 2014 Studios & Events booklet.

This is a free event but bookings are recommended. Please click on the link below for more details.

Kristin Berardi- voice
Steve Newcomb- piano
Rafael Karlen- saxophone

Tuesday 25 February
6pm for 6.30pm start
The Centre Beaudesert
82 Brisbane Street


New recording with string quartet, piano and saxophone 

I am thrilled to be preparing for an upcoming recording of my music for string quartet, piano and saxophone. The recording will feature renowned pianist Steve Newcomb along with the Rosenberg String Quartet. It was made possible with support from an Arts Queenland Project and Program Fund Grant.

There will be several performances throughout 2014 so please stay tuned for these.

We will go into the studio in January- I'm super excited!!

Steve Newcomb-piano
Rafael Karlen-tenor saxophone

Rebecca Karlen- violiin
Eugenie Costello- violin
Alice Buckingham- viola
Danielle Bentley- cello

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