Category Archives: This Thing Called Jazz

The Doubly Gifted Committee & the Bell Jazz Lectures

Bill Liddy

MY generous mate, Bill Liddy, tipped me off to this remarkable Australian jazz phenomenon: the Doubly Gifted Committee’s Bell Jazz Lectures.

In 1992, the Doubly Gifted Committee held its first ‘Jazz Art Happening’ exhibition at Waverley Library, Bondi Junction, Sydney to showcase the double talents of jazz musicians who are also artists. It was the brainchild of Committee member Harry Stein, (who incidentally was one of the founders of the Australian Jazz Convention). The following year, the exhibition was expanded to include the Bell Jazz Lecture, also organised by the Doubly Gifted Committee, in recognition of Graeme Bell’s significant contribution to jazz. The Jazz Art Happening and Bell Jazz Lecture have continued as a two-week annual event at Waverley Library since 1993.

Members of the Committee over the years have included Harry Stein, Graeme Bell, Jeannie McInnes, Kate Dunbar, Verdon Morcom, Margaret Stevenson, Ron Lander (Waverley City Librarian), Jiri Kripac, and Bob Baird (since 2005).

And what is so wonderful is that the complete text of each of the lectures so far – all 19 of them – can be downloaded from the Waverley Library website!.

Here’s the complete list of speakers and topics:
1993. Bruce Johnston. Jazz & Society
1994. Gail Brennan. Jazz Posibilities: realised & denied
1995. Dick Hughes. Jazz & the Press, and related airs and themes.
1996. Judy Bailey. Jazz – A Question of Growth, (or Survival of the Hippest?)
1997. Clement Semmler. Whither Jazz?
1998. Geoff Bull. Jazz – What’s in a Name?
1999. Jack Mitchell. Jazzdags
2000. Peter F. J. Newton. Along Dark Alleys: the Literature of Jazz and Crime
2001. Mandy Sayer. Goodbye Porkpie Hat: writing jazz in the twentieth century
2002. Bill Haesler. Fixty-six years of jazz & Jazz Conventions
2003. Len Barnard. No Sticks Before 10 O’clock
2004. John Morrison. Serious Fun
2005. Jim McLeod. Jazz & the Cinema
2006. Graeme Bell. Leader of the Band
2007. Bill Boldiston. Sydney Jazz Until 1950
2008. Bill Pochee. Things ain’t what they used to be
2009. Jeannie Lewis. You know I don’t listen to the words
2010. James Valentine. The Myths of Jazz
2011. Daniel Hardie. Buddy Bolden and me – the true story

This is an absolutely wonderful, rich local resource on jazz – wide ranging, scholarly but entertaining – and one which every jazz fan should dip into.


International Jazz Day: April 30th

HAVE you heard that UNESCO has declared Monday 30 April International Jazz Day? Inspired by, or led by American jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, the day has a lot of high minded objectives (check their website) and many fabulous events are planned around the world, including a dawn concert in Congo Square, New Orleans which is to be streamed, one in New York at the UN, and one in Paris.

For some happenings in Australia you could check out the ABC’s link:

Of course it would be great to hear some live jazz on Monday, but if you can’t manage that here are five things you could do to mark the day. I’m sure you can think of others:

1. Put your favourite CDs on the stereo, open the window and give the neighbourhood a treat.
2. Head for your local supermarket and let your radio rip on a jazz station.
3. Change your mobile ringtone to something that swings. (I’ve got “Burgundy Street Blues” on mine; Graeme has “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey”)
4. Send a donation to the Victorian Jazz Archive (or the Archive in your state or territory). Money is good, but why not also send that bit of jazz ephemera that you’ve been hoarding, and which your kids will throw out the first chance they get.
5. Telephone or text a musician and tell them how much you love their work, and how much their music has meant to your enjoyment of life.


India’s Jazz Age

When you think of jazz in the early 20th Century you may think of New Orleans, Chicago, New York or Paris. What isn’t so well known is that the Indian city of Bombay – now Mumbai – had its own flourishing jazz scene in the 1930s.

story of bombay jazzNaresh Fernandes – author of “Taj Mahal Foxtrot, the story of Bombay’s jazz age” – paints a portrait of the musicians, the fans, and the music.

Click on the title, Bombay’s jazz age, to watch and listen to his fascinating audio slideshow published on the Internet in the BBC News Magazine.

And here is one of the leading musicians from that era, Chic Chocolate, who modelled himself on his hero, Louis Armstrong.

Chic Chocolate

Chic Chocolate

Thank you to Evelyne Perks Cohen, Mel Blachford and Gretel James for alerting me to this wonderful slice of jazz history,