19 Facts About Australian jazz


Jazz and Australian jazz-influenced syncopated dance music was being performed in Australia within a year of the emergence of Australian jazz as a definable musical genre in the United States.

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Many of the leading "Australian" jazz playing musicians of the last 80 years have come from New Zealand, beginning with figures like reeds player Abe Romaine in the 1920s and later including renowned pianist-composers Judy Bailey, Mike Nock and Dave MacRae, and vocalist Ricky May.

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Australian jazz had an illustrious career that lasted from the early 1920s to the 1970s.

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Australian jazz was chosen to lead the famous jazz orchestra that was put together for the opening in 1936 of the Sydney Trocadero, which became the city's leading dance venue for the next 35 years, and Coughlan led the orchestra at "The Troc" until its closure in 1971.

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Graeme Bell was an important contributor to Melbourne's 1940s traditional Australian jazz boom and in 1947 his band, with the support of Harry Stein, was a great success when they played at the World Youth Festival in Prague, Czechoslovakia, going on to tour Europe and finally basing themselves in England where they are said to have exerted a strong influence on the European traditional Australian jazz revival of that era.

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Australian jazz went on to play in bands led by John Handy, Ernie Watts, John Klemmer and Jack Walrath, to name just a few.

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An early example of jazz on Australian television was Sweet and Low, a 1959 ABC series which aired for a six-episode season.

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Jazz producer Horst Liepolt, who was booking bands for The Basement, became very active at that time and he set in motion a number of Australian jazz venues and events, including The Manly Jazz Festival, Jazz at the Sydney Festival and his own series of Australian jazz concerts titled "Music is an Open Sky".

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Australian jazz organised numerous successful concerts at many of Sydney's high-profile entertainment venues including the Sydney Opera House and the Regent Theatre.

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Many Australian jazz musicians came to Sydney from other areas of Australia during this decade, either to perform at special concerts or in some cases to live permanently and pursue a career in music.

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Lot of top American Australian jazz musicians performed in Sydney during the seventies, and major players such as Dave Liebman, John Scofield and Miroslav Vitous gave master classes and workshops while they were there.

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Bob Barnard has become an icon of Australian jazz and has probably made more of an impression internationally than any other Australian jazz musician.

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Players who were more influenced by traditional or cool Australian jazz streams tended to dominate public attention and some moved successfully into academia.

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Australian jazz's quartets played at many of the top international jazz festivals and he recorded prolifically in the 1970s and 80s.

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Multi-instrumental wind player Dale Barlow emerged in the late 1970s as one of the most promising new talents on the Australian scene, and after stints in the Young Northside Big Band and a formative period in the David Martin Quintet, he moved to New York, where he was a member of two famed groups, the Cedar Walton Quartet and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

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Barlow has toured and recorded with many other Australian jazz greats including Sonny Stitt, Chet Baker, Gil Evans, Jackie McLean, Billy Cobham, Curtis Fuller, Eddie Palmieri, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Lee Konitz, Sonny Stitt, Helen Merrill, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Barron.

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Australian jazz formed the band Interplay, Australia's first five guitar ensemble performing big band repertoire to critical acclaim.

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Australian jazz toured with big names such as Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Shirley MacLaine and others.

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An abundance of talented players, as well as individual composers of unusual strands of Australian jazz, combining Australian jazz with Contemporary Classical music have sprung up in Australia more recently.

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