19 September 2013
Bernie McGann (1937-2013)
[Updated link section 25 Sept 2013]
One of the biggest names in Australian jazz, alto saxophonist Bernie McGann died on Tuesday night at the age of 76 from complications after heart surgery.
Born in 1937, McGann grew up in Sydney where he trained as a fitter and turner, and played drums as a teenager, then picked up the saxophone relatively late, at the age of 18. From early gigs with a jazz trio in a Sydney club in the 1950s, McGann gradually progressed to become a highly respected figure in the Australian jazz community. He was admired for his unique saxophone sound - frequently described as 'dry', 'dark', and 'gravelly' - as well as his originality as improviser and composer.
A multiple ARIA Award winner, McGann received the Australia Council Don Banks Music Award in 1998. He continued his performing career until very recently, playing in his own Bernie McGann Trio and Bernie McGann Quartet (McGann, Warwick Alder, Brendan Clarke, Andrew Dickeson), as well as with other Australian and international musicians.
'Phenomenal saxophonist among the best in the
world' - obituary by John Shand in the Sydney Morning Herald
(23 September 2013)
'Original and inventive giant of the alto sax' - obituary by John McBeath, The Australian (23 September 2013)
'Vale Bernie McGann, king of jazz' - article by John Shand in the Sydney Morning Herald (19 September 2013)
'Jazz musicians lament the loss of a cherished elder statesman' - article by Ashleigh Wilson in The Australian (19 September 2013)
'Sydney jazz muso Bernie McGann dead at 76' - ABC News PM (18 September 2013 - program transcript, with Peter Rechniewski, Paul Grabowsky, Lloyd Swanton)
Bernie McGann 75th birthday interview - The Music Show, ABC RN (broadcast in December 2012)
© Australian Music Centre (2013) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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