7 February 2013
Jazz in Australia #5
Miriam Zolin's jazz column
© Roger Mitchell (ausjazz.net)
AAO appoints a new Artistic Director
After Founding Artistic Director Paul Grabowsky stepped down from the role last year, 2013 began with the news that the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO) has appointed a new Artistic Director in Dr Peter Knight. Knight, who has strong improvising credentials and a track record of experimentation with form and practice, said he is 'both excited and daunted' by the appointment, 'but mostly excited'. The role requires a part-time commitment and follows his receipt at the end of 2012 of a fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, which means he is looking forward to a creatively rich year. Knight will bring his trademark energy, enthusiasm and inclusive approach to the role and is looking forward to helping the AAO build on its legacy as a key contributor to the Australian cultural landscape in the areas of improvised music, cross-cultural collaborations and mentoring of young improvisers.
MJC 30th anniversary
Melbourne Jazz Co-operative celebrated its first 30 years in January with a series of concerts, including a free event in Melbourne's Federation Square. In a sour counterpoint, the celebration took place on the heels of news that Arts Victoria had decided not to fund the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative in 2013. The news of funding cuts has galvanised musicians in Melbourne and all over Australia - the MJC supports jazz and improvised music with twice-weekly concerts featuring local, interstate and even overseas performers and the funding decision was a shock.
One of the responses to the combined celebration and consternation was a jazz flashmob, organised by the Melbourne Improvising Collective's Travis Woods. The swinging mob brought some lunchtime rhythm to the Melbourne CBD, and while it may not affect funding outcomes, it was certainly a great way to lift the spirits - in the best possible jazz tradition.
Jazz recipients of Australia Council fellowships
The Australia Council for the Arts announced their fellowships at
the end of last year. The list included three of our best-known
jazz and improvising musicians, including Peter Knight, as
mentioned above, guitarist James Muller and pianist Erik
> News item on Resonate
Darling Harbour Jazz Festival ends
Jazz musicians in Sydney and beyond were dismayed to hear that the Darling Harbour Jazz Festival would no longer be presented. The annual festival has been a fixture in the Sydney entertainment calendar for 22 years, and the response to the decision has been overwhelmingly one of surprise and shock.
Saxophonist Dale Barlow spoke for many when he said, in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 January, that it is '...a resounding indictment of Australia and Sydney that we can have such a short-sighted attitude towards something of major and lasting cultural significance'.
Brian Brown passes away 27 January 2013
Melbourne Jazz Co-operative's Martin Jackson, speaking at the MJC 30th anniversary concert on Sunday 27 January, warmly acknowledged the influence of the great improvising musician Brian Brown. Sadly, that very night Brown passed away. Jackson imparted the sad news in an email to the jazz community the following day:
'Brian had been a musical inspiration to myself and countless other Melbourne musicians, including his long tenure at the VCA. It was pleasing that Brian finally received the Bells Australian Jazz Award in the Hall of Fame category last year. He had turned 80 in December, and had been in poor health in recent years, which had prevented him performing for much of the last decade. Fortuitously, a Tribute Concert was staged at Montsalvat in 2011, featuring musicians who had performed or studied with Brown from the 1950s onwards.'
> Read Dewi Cooke's tribute article in The Age (30 January)
Young Women at the Con
The musicians and coordinators behind the Young Women's Jazz Workshops were thrilled to announce, this month, that at least four past participants in the SIMA workshops for young women have found places in the jazz course at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Three of them were also recipients of Jann Rutherford Memorial Award (JRMA) mentorships. The musicians are Holly Conner (drums), Anna Leckie (saxophone), Abi McCunn (saxophone) and Philipa Murphy-Haste (clarinet).
Improvising saxophonist Sandy Evans OAM, who is the founder of the workshops, a co-founder of the JRMA and an active teacher and mentor of young musicians, said, '...it will be very exciting to see how their music develops over the coming years.'
The SIMA Young Women's Jazz Workshops provide a unique learning opportunity for young women wanting to take up a professional career in jazz and improvised music. Entry is by audition and written application and classes run for three hours on a Saturday morning from July-September over eight weeks, culminating in a public concert where workshop participants perform on stage. Applications for the 2013 workshops are currently open.
© Australian Music Centre (2013) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
Miriam Zolin is the publisher and editor at extempore and australianjazz.net. She has enjoyed listening to a broad spectrum of jazz and improvised music for a number of years. As well as regular writing about Australian musicians and their music, Miriam has recently contributed to PenTales, Griffith Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Book Review and The Sleepers Almanac.
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