A Hat Trick for Australian jazz

HAVE you ever noticed how things tend to go in threes? There is probably no real mathematical or magical basis for this phenomenon, if in fact it exists at all. We may not notice one occurrence of something, two may be a coincidence, but by the third time around, we begin to see a pattern.

Well however you explain it, for me 2013 has begun with a hat trick of things to do with Australian jazz compositions:

The first began with an idle thought on New Year’s Eve. When casting around for a resolution which I might enjoy keeping I came up with idea of dusting off a list of Australian jazz compositions which I had begun to make several years ago. Since 1 January I’ve added 333 (those 3s again!) titles to the list and attached it to this blog. You can find it from the menu at the top of the page – just click on Australian Jazz Compositions. It’s a work in progress and will be added to regularly. If you find any mistakes, have any additions, please let me know at jlascala@optusnet.com.au and I’ll be delighted to incorporate them so that eventually the list may become a useful resource for those with an interest in Australian jazz.

Tim Nikolsky

I discovered the second when Alex Hutchinson (in response to my request for help in compiling the above List) told me about a much more significant project approaching its completion. Tim Nikolsky, a local (Melbourne) jazz guitarist, has been working on an Australian Jazz Real Book  for his PhD, and I understand from Tim that the work, now in its 4th draft, is at the printer at this very moment. To learn more about the project and the thinking behind it, you can read an interview with Tim (“Tim Nikolsky: Getting Real Down Under”) by Ian Patterson of the Philadelphia-based jazz website, All About Jazz published in May 2011. Amongst other things, Tim explains his reasons for his choice of titles to be included in what he hopes will be Volume 1 of a series. Not everyone will agree with his choices but that’s life, particularly in the world of jazz.

Dr Nick Ribush

The third in this trio of coincidences came to me via Mel Blachford of that great institution, the Victorian Jazz Archive. It concerns Dr. Nicholas Ribush, who completed medical studies at the University of Melbourne in 1964 and along the way played piano in the Melbourne University Jazz Band. A decade later he was introduced to Buddhism and was one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A large part of his life has been spent in publishing, writing and disseminating Buddhist teachings in Boston, Massachusetts, but he has never lost his passion for jazz.

The local public library in Lincoln, a suburb of Boston where Nick now lives, has run a monthly “classic” jazz appreciation group for the past 26 years. In January 2013 Nick will host a program on “Australian Jazz: the Melbourne Sound; the first forty years” which will be illustrated with a DVD made from images and sound recordings provided by the Victorian Jazz Archive. Watch this wonderful hour-long video which begins in 1947 with Graeme Bell and “Czechoslovak Journey” and ends in 1984 with Neville Stribling and the Sacramento Connection playing “Ragtime Dance”.

And we’re only 10 days into 2013! Let’s hope and trust that the remaining 355 days pan out as well.

3 responses to “A Hat Trick for Australian jazz

  1. Good to hear from Nick & glad that we’re both still here. cheers , mate.

  2. Fantastic! Great work Jane. I’ve only scratched the surface of Australian Jazz compositions, with over 400 tunes in volume 1. Hopefully many volumes to come!

  3. Thanks Jane…nice job!

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