Australian Jazz Real Book: a reality

Tim Nikolsky

IN January 2013 I foreshadowed the imminent publication of the first “Australian Jazz Real Book”, a collection of lead sheets or charts of Australian jazz compositions which was in the final stages of preparation by its maker, guitarist Tim Nikolsky.

Well here’s Tim with THE BOOK.

The 450+ tunes which are included are categorised into 17 styles, with the number in each category shown in brackets:
Swing (154), Straight (119), Ballad (48), Latin (43), Traditional (19), Funk (19) Rubato (10) Blues (10) Fusion (9) Bossa Nova (7) Shuffle (5) Rock (4) Afro-Cuban (3), Bebop (3), Country (2), Free (1) and Choro (1).

The lead sheets contain the melody in regular musical notation, chords and, where they exist, lyrics. There are also some more involved transcriptions where appropriate, and a few full score reductions where each instrumental part is important, and harmony parts and voicings are included.

The Book is available in hardcopy form with cover, pages and all that jazz for those who prefer the permanence and tangibility of a traditional book. It is also available in digitised form accessible online via laptop, iPad etc. You can find out details of prices from Tim’s very fine website,

Tim says that the aim of the website is to provide online access to “the definitive collection of Australian jazz tunes from Australian composers”, not only for working musicians to select Australian tunes to add to their repertoires but also to make it easier for jazz educators to incorporate Australian jazz compositions into their curricula. It will also be a resource to which students can turn for uniquely Australian tunes that are ‘gig-ready’.

For more background, see Tim and jazz pianist Bob Sedergreen interviewed by Waleed Aly on Radio National program, “The Drawing Room”. Tim talks about the genesis of The Book, and reasons for his choice of tunes. To demonstrate the effectiveness of The Book, Waleed on guitar joins the two professional musicians to play a Sedergreen composition, “Intersection”.

Even if you’re not in the market for a Real Book, the Australian Jazz Real Book Wesbsite is a mine of information, and is very well worth being bookmarked by the serious jazz follower. It lists the tunes in the Book by composer, title and category – in itself a useful resource. For many of the composers there is quite an extensive profile, with images, references to other websites and to YouTube performances of the song or the composer. There are even links to more information about the history and availability of other real books.

For example, here is the profile on the late Brian Brown, OAM who died on 28 January 2013. One of the references in his profile is to a wonderful film on modern jazz in Melbourne in the 1950s at Jazz Centre 44 in St Kilda. Click on the image below to see it.

This project has been a massive undertaking for Tim Nikolsky which has produced a very valuable addition to the fund of knowledge about Australian jazz compositions and their composrs. Well done, Tim!

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