TWO Saturdays ago I was listening to John Smythe presenting the Victorian Jazz Club’s fine radio program, Jazz on a Saturday and was delighted to hear a track from Max Collie’s Rhythm Aces recorded at the Trafalgar Hotel, Chelsea (London that is) sometime around 1973.
So it was especially poignant to have news a few days later from Ron Knight in WA, and Diana Allen that Max has had a serious stroke and is in a very poor state requiring 24 hour care.
You can find out more details from the following website which is organising to sell the remaining stock of Collie CDs and DVDs as one way of helping to support Max and his family.
Appeal for Max Collie
Although Max has lived and worked overseas since 1962, he will be remembered by those of an age to have played with him or listened to him during his early jazz days in Melbourne where he was born on 21 February 1931. He led the Jazz Bandits (1948-1950) and the Jazz Kings (1950-1962) which included some well known names in the Australian jazz firmament as you can see from the illustration below from The Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz by Bruce Johnson.
He had planned to take his band overseas in 1962 but arrangements fell through at the last minute. Providentially the Nick Polites’ Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band which was touring England and other places was losing its trombone player Kevin Shannon who was returning to Australia, so Max accepted the invitation to take his place. He arrived England in April 1962.
When the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band left England in 1964, Max stayed behind, becoming a member of the London City Stompers. In 1966, he became the group’s leader and they were renamed Rhythm Aces. For the next 46 years the Max Collie Rhythm Aces have played all over the world, made many recordings and developed a following spanning almost as many decades as they have.
Here’s a sample of them playing in 1973. Swinging London has certainly changed their “look” since the days of the Jazz Kings in staid Melbourne!
In 1975 they won the first World Championship of Jazz in the US. Here’s a video: the camera work is shocking, but audio is OK.
Obviously over the years the personnel has changed, but the jazz style hasn’t. Here’s a video of the band playing at the Mülheim Jazz Club, Germany in February 2010. That’s Baby Jools on drums.