Willow Neilson was born in the small hippy town of Nimbin, Australia. His parents were entertainers and environmental activists, Willow spent the early years of his life marching in protests or sleeping in his father’s velvet lined guitar case whilst his parents performed their original musical and theatrical satires. At ten years old he took up the harmonica, practicing blues music with his father in their living room. At 14 he began the saxophone and fell in love with jazz music.
Willow Neilson went on to graduate as one of the top three students in his year at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music then took out third place in three international competitions; Jazz Hoelaart International Competition in Brussels in 2001, Montreaux Jazz Festival Saxophone Competition 2003 and London Jazz Festival Saxophone Competition 2004 both run by the White foundation.
Neilson’s interpretation of the melodies we ignore everyday sends a thought-provoking message. Perhaps the next time I hear that guy on his bike marketing refrigerator-repair skills I’ll feel something other than rage. Lightbulb Lives exemplifies a different way to listen to the world around us. Lemonade out of lemons; music out of noise.-
Jenn Chan Lyman- Urbanatomy.com (2010)
Among other things, jazz is the art of building and releasing tension, and Neilson’s band gives a lesson in this on their CD, belying the members’ age and experience. There is no sense of treading water or fishing for ideas as the improvising races from one action-packed episode to another leaving pools of suspense between