Tony Standish



Lifelong champion of traditional jazz

Tony Standish, who has died aged 85, was a lifelong devotee of blues and traditional jazz who inspired many local record collections.

 By Rick Sjolund and Peter Haby

Tony Standish, whose lifelong enthusiasm for traditional jazz and blues inspired many a local record collection and who is remembered as a mentor to many, has died aged 85.

He was born in Richmond on December 7, 1931, the only son of Jack and Enid Standish. His early years were spent in Aspendale and he attended school at St Bede’s in Mentone.

Tony Standish, enthusiast for traditional blues and jazz Photo: Supplied

His interest in jazz began in the 1940s and he became friends with trumpeter Bob Barnard, whose band played at the Mentone Lifesaving Club. In 1949 Tony was a founding member of The Southern Jazz Society and contributed articles to Australia Jazz Quarterly. He also recorded the Alfrey Street Stompers in 1952 that featured the brothers Bob (trumpet) and Len Barnard (drums) and Nick Polities (alto sax), who would all go onto world acclaim in the field of traditional jazz.

In the mid-1950s Tony left Australia and travelled to America. After working in Canada to finance his travels, he and his friend Jim Hanna bought a car and travelled through the US and Mexico and eventually arrived in New Orleans.

Tony’s time in New Orleans was spent with some other jazz enthusiasts seeking out the bands associated with the “New Orleans Revival”. An American jazz enthusiast, Bill Russell, had started recording the traditional jazz bands still playing in New Orleans, and his recordings had aroused interest in the continuing jazz tradition.

Tony spent a lot of his time photographing the brass bands, places of historical importance to jazz history and general life in New Orleans. Many of the photos are now in the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University in New Orleans. He also sent articles to Jazz Journal.


Tony then travelled to England. In London, he landed the dream job for a young jazz fan with journalistic ambitions, becoming assistant editor of Jazz Journal, England’s premier jazz magazine. Tony’s interviews with visiting blues and jazz musicians, such as Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim and members of the George Lewis and Kid Ory bands, are still cited today.

In 1959 he set up Heritage Records to reissue blues records from the 1920s and jazz recordings from the early 1950s of the George Lewis band from New Orleans.  He reissued titles by Charlie Patton, Memphis Minnie, Papa Charlie Jackson, Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Ramblin’ Thomas. He also issued albums by Joel and Lightning Hopkins, The Black Ace, Snooks Eaglin and Buster Pickens. These later albums consisted of tracks recorded by researchers Mack McCormick and Chris Strachwitz in Texas and New Orleans during 1959 and 1960. These records were very influential in the English blues and jazz scene of the time and today they are highly regarded and very collectable.

In 1960 Standish also led the way when he co-published Eureka – The Magazine of New Orleans Jazz with fellow jazz historians Bill Colyer and Graham Russell.   It featured many articles by Standish and photos taken on his initial journey to the birthplace of jazz.

In 1963 he returned to Australia with his wife Barbara, who he met in England, and their daughter Kate.

Tony opened his Heritage Record Shop above Frank Traynor’s Folk Club in Little Lonsdale Street. It was only open on Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, but soon became a meeting place for devotees of traditional jazz, blues and folk music.

For young enthusiasts, it was a slightly intimidating first experience as all the customers standing around talking seemed to know much more about the music.  However Tony was keen to pass his knowledge on and his recommendations helped form the start of many record collections. It was a great place to meet and after closing time, many of the customers went with Tony to the Continental Hotel to continue conversations about music, football, cricket and politics.

Tony was keen to pass his knowledge on and his recommendations helped form the start of many record collections

Tony started a jazz club in the Continental Hotel. The band featured Frank Turville on trumpet, who had recently returned from a successful tour of Europe as a member of the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band.  Turville’s international reputation inspired Melbourne’s Yarra Yarra Jazz Band and Geoff Bull’s Olympia Jazz band in Sydney.

Standish recorded the Bull band in 1971.  His last release on his own label Heritage, now highly prized by collectors, was by the bluesman Smith Casey, an inmate at Clemens State Farm, Brazoria, Texas, who recorded for the Library of Congress in 1939.

During this time Tony’s day job was assistant manager of Ramsay Surgical Medical Bookshop. He was promoted to manager and in 1975 decided to open his own medical bookshop with two of his colleagues. The bookshop, Standish Prideaux & Pye, opened just two doors down from the Ramsay shop in Berkeley Street, Carlton, very close to the Melbourne University Medical School. The shop became very successful and expanded into library supply.

Tony had friendly relationships with many medical librarians around Australia, contributing greatly to the success of the business. In 1995 he sold his share in the business to his remaining partner, Michael Prideaux.

Tony retired to Mount Martha and started a small mail-order record outlet, Standish & Co. This enabled him to re-establish his many contacts with traditional jazz collectors, and he imported many CDs that customers were having difficulty finding elsewhere. The internet also enabled him to contact his old friends from England, Europe and the United States.

Tony’s other great love was gardening, and he spent much time tending the native plants he was so enthusiastic about. He was also a long-suffering Richmond supporter who longed for a resurgence in the club’s fortunes.

Tony passed away on December 17, and is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Kate and Jane, and son Marty.

His passing was acknowledged by many overseas blues and New Orleans jazz collectors.

Labor Day Weeeknd 2017 Live Jazz

Labor Day Weekend Jazz 2017

 There will be plenty of live traditional jazz in and around Melbourne this week and over the Labor Day weekend. A sample is as follows :

Thursday… ( 9th March )

. Ruby Page & the Joe Ruberto Jazztet, Rising Sun Hotel , South Melbourne        6.30 – 9.30 pm

Over the Labor Day Long Weekend from Friday night through to Monday afternoon is the Inverloch Jazz Festival  with three venues. Program details


Sugarfoot Ramblers with Georgie Darvides  – Paris Cat , Melbourne – 9.30 pm

Eamon McNelis with Barry Wratten, Mark Fitzgibbon, Sam Anning & Lynn Wallis at the Uptown Café , 177 Brunswick Street , Fitzroy between 9.00 & 11.00 pm.


The 2017 Mussell Festival at South Melbourne Market from midday until late on Saturday and Sunday will feature live entertainment including Margie Lou Dyer, Simon Stribling, Paul Williamson, Shuffle Club, Horns of Leroy, the Pearly Shells and many more….

Sugarfoot Ramblers at the Victorian Jazz Club at Clayton RSL between 8.00 & 11.00 pm call 9874 8870 or


The Louisiana Shakers – Clyde Hotel , Elgin Street Carlton between 2.00 & 5.00 pm

New Melbourne Jazz Band – Royal Hotel , Upper Fern Tree Gully between 12.30 & 3.30 pm

Stevenson’s Rockets – Emerald Hotel , South Melbourne between 7.00 – 10.00 pm.

Margie Lou Dyer – Claypots St Kilda – 8.00 – 11.00 pm.

Wednesday ( 15th March )

The Victorian Jazz Club present the John Hawes – Graeme Davies 7 Up with John Hawes on trumpet & vocals , Graeme Davies trombone & vocals, Camm Robbins reeds, Chris Somerville piano, John Scurry guitar, Mike Zutenis bass and Ron Sandilands drums. At the East Malvern RSL, 1 Stanley Grose Drive, East Malvern from 7.30 until 10.00 pm. Bookings and enquiries 9874 8870 or online at


And that’s just some of the great live jazz around Melbourne this week !



100 Years Of Recorded Jazz

100 Years of Recorded Jazz

Last week the 26th of February marked the day when five young New Orleans musicians known as the Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the “ Livery Stable Blues “ at the Victor Talking Machine Co. in New York City in 1917. On the other side of the 78 was “ the Dixieland Jass Band One Step “. The record went on to be a million seller propelled jazz into the public consciousness .
The Original Dixieland Jass Band were an overnight sensation touring Europe performing a command performance for King George V amongst other society events.
Trumpeter with the band , Nick La Rocca, courted controversy by claiming that he was the “ creator of jazz “ and that jazz was the invention of white New Orleans musicians who influenced copyist African – American musicians. His derogatory remarks about African – American musicians are still regarded as valueless and inflammatory and much of the controversy surrounding his statements is currently debated in the contemporary music press and internet sites.
Last week John Smyth presented a radio special on Melbourne community radio station 3CR on those heady times and on the changes in jazz sounds and recording techniques and quality reflecting this fascinating story over the last century. John Smyth is a regular presenter of Jazz On A Saturday on radio 3CR ( 855 AM ) which has been sponsored by the Victorian Jazz Club for the last forty years between 4.00 & 5.30 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. The show can be heard live on and his show on the last century of recorded jazz can still be heard on the 3CR website on audio on demand for the next 24 hours.

Jazz News – Port Fairy, Eltham & Wangaratta

Welcome to the first posting on Jazz Ramble for 2017. Jazz Ramble was the initiative of Jane La Scala which she established in 2011 and was managed solely by her until shortly before her death in Melbourne on the 23rd of March 2016. With the first anniversary of Jane’s death next month we continue Jazz Ramble in her memory .

In the last few months there has been a lot going on in the jazz scene in Victoria with the 71st Australian Jazz Convention being held at Ballarat at the end of 2016 . That will be reported in detail in the forthcoming edition of the Victorian Jazz Club’s Jazzline magazine. In recent weeks we are glad to hear that the first Port Fairy Jazz Festival on the weekend of the 10th to the 12th of February has been a huge success musically and socially.
Port Fairy Jazz Festival:
Pianist David Lole who was one of the many busy musicians at Port Fairy has described the weekend on facebook as follows :
“ If ever there was a case for proffering accolades for a job well done, the township of Port Fairy should win the top gold medal and trophy for their sterling efforts this last weekend.
When Hall’s Gap Jazz Festival legends Peter Milburn and Veronica Massie decided enough was enough and nobody picked up the towel, along came the extraordinary John Huf and friends who decided that February in Hall’s Gap was just too darn hot and bushfire prone to hold a festival in this most scenic spot and hence the Port Fairy Jazz Festival was born.
So the inaugural PFJF is now done and dusted and what a ball was (hopefully) had by all. The weather was mostly brilliant (for me at least. I abhor excessive heat, dust and wind and Hall’s Gap for all its incredible beauty had not been so kind these last few years including the massive power failure in 2014 caused by unrelenting 40+ degree heat that saw the cancellation of Saturday night’s program) and even the rain gave way to some sunny breaks and a freshening cool breeze on Sunday.
Port Fairy is located about a four hour drive west of Melbourne, midway between the coastal towns of Warnambool and Portland. It is steeped in history and contains a wealth of early Victorian heritage including the state’s oldest pub. Although relatively small in size, this township possesses a vibrant and friendly town folk, a bevy of fine restaurants, pubs, bars clubs, shops, motels, apartments etcetera and many fine historic theatres and halls that were mostly very suitable for harbouring the many faces of the sometimes difficult to define idiom of jazz. There is also a scenic harbour, lovely coastal river and estuary, fine sanded beaches, rocky headlands and one hell of a southern ocean!
The organising committee and their merry band of volunteers did Port Fairy and themselves proud with their efforts of looking after what seemed to be a very healthy number of musicians (my guess about 350), 116 bands and perhaps 1500 keen listeners. Just a simple gesture in providing every venue with a regularly replenished bucketful of chilled water bottles for the muso’s paid testimony to the thoughtfulness and planning that went into this most successful event.
On Saturday morning a traditional Street Parade was performed along Sackville St led by town crier, Ralph Leutton. The attendance by musicians was a little disappointing in number, although some of the costumes and dress ups in the festivals colours of purple and gold were very eye-catching. The crowds lining both sides of Sackville helped with the general ambiance. Must say the music direction by Ken Collins at the all in blow at the Fiddlers Green made for some very reasonable playing indeed, with many speeches, including the official inaugural festival opening address delivered by the mayor of Moyne, Jim Doukas to more than decent crowd with Rod Carter, the President of the Western Victorian Jazz Productions Inc. representing the Festival Committee.
The gospel church service was held on Sunday morning at St Johns Church. I was otherwise occupied down the road and missed the service, but I have subsequently been told by a distinguished looking, tall, local gentleman, this was a most successful part of the festival with a packed attendance and in parts so moving, many people were brought to tears. The young guns, Shirazz providing the marvellous ambiance with the help of a few spine tingling vocals from the great Susy Hull of Slipdixie fame. Susy’s tone needs to be heard to be believed. You may like to know, I don’t actually believe in God(s), but I do like a lot of Christians and the way they live and interact with other people. And I really like playing/listening to gospel music, especially played by good bands like Shirazz. After hearing all of the above second hand, I might just have to go next year and perhaps I could tell all of this to you on a mountain. Food for thought?
The general standard of jazz at Port Fairy seemed to be on par with previous (Hall’s Gap) festivals but I saw major improvements with more sound crew on hand, better fold back systems provided and the all indoor venues mostly very well attended. Only the St Pat’s church was a bit of a hike and my two sets there saw no more than twenty in attendance. One acoustic piano had seen better days and probably be replaced/substituted with something better acoustic or a digital. Of the many venues, the Reardon was very well utilised by patrons, had excellent acoustics but the grand piano was off and below stage and needs to be relocated (if at all possible) to allow for far better band interaction. (I’m a piano player, by the way). I enjoyed the Lecture Hall and the beer garden at the Star of West. Having a couple of outdoor venues is not a bad thing but the weather was not so kind on Sunday and I’m not sure what contingencies were on hand to cope with the program if it really came tumbling down.
The Program
I was heavily committed (playing in seven bands, registering just one of my own) at the festival and only managed to see limited acts during the weekend. I can’t talk at length about so many of the great acts on hand, but I did manage to see the wonderful Sarah Maclaine with her excellent band on Friday night. Graham Steele was majestic with his trumpet in this set. The Slipdixies were just terrific. Very much in the mould of Tuba Skinny, this band really delivered a polished New Orleans styled performance. Thanks to Claire for introducing me to this band. The crowd was going gangbuster for the set we attended. Shirazz was incredibly well supported both times on Saturday; I couldn’t get in to see them but heard a little from the street outside. Of course, at the very popular Hot ‘B’ Hines sets, it was a virtual “hanging from the rafters” affair and as I came straight from another gig, missed the boat to see these guys again. A lot of disappointed people were turned away, but there is nought you can do about it. Maryborough Traditional Jazz Ensemble are always a most entertaining band to hear and their performance in the beer garden was pretty darn good considering there was no bass player. Bob Franklin did a fine job filling in with his left hand on piano. I also got to see the gorgeous Juliarna Clark and her Heart Band, Royal Garden Jazz Band and a little of Dave Gardner’s Quartet. James Clark, Derek Dalton and Peter Hooper rank right up there in the playing stakes, and all featured in some way in some or all of these bands. I was disappointed I missed hearing and talking to Kim and Anita Harris (I saw Anita taking lots of pictures, but I was playing each time). Two of my very favourite people and their Well Versed Harris Duo is always a special treat. Drat! But I did get to see my dear friends, Dave Richard and Lynne Gough perform at the Hub, a casual venue. Their duo, Blue Tango, possess such a wonderfully eclectic song list with plaudits to their take on Burt Bacharach’s, The Look of Love, amongst several others, including one of their many hilarious lyrical parodies they write to well known tunes. Great stuff, you two!
The final set I want to tell you about was the Hot “B” Hines Workshop on Sunday Morning. The convenor was a staff member from the James Morrison Jazz Academy at Mt Gambier (sorry, I cant remember his name) who introduced the session, handing the running of the event over to a brilliant Ken Collins who gave the big audience a very fine breakdown on the workings of a traditional jazz band. Wally Joosen sang and showed us the rudiments of the drum kit, Dave Hines sang and played his banjo, John Huf belted out some good stuff on the sousaphone, Barry Currie sang and played the clarinet and sax, Bill Beasley sang and played his trombone and Ken talked about everything you ever wanted to know about jazz (but were afraid to ask), sang and played his trumpet. All the guys talked briefly about their musical upbringings. The working tune for the tutorial was the standard “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey”. This was an innovative and most enjoyable session. I only have one criticism. It wasn’t long enough! Perhaps another quarter to half an hour, as a lot people around me were eager to ask questions but time was up and another band was programmed to play at 12 noon. Perhaps holding these excellent educational interludes in a separate venue would be an even better idea? Or start a half hour earlier? I believe a great time was had by all in attendance.
Summing Up
I talked with John Huf yesterday who wanted me to relay his most sincere thanks to the hundreds of fine musicians who generously provided their musical skills to make this inaugural jazz festival such an outstanding success and also his gratitude to the same group for putting their trust and compliance in the organising committee to program them as best it could. He also mentioned how delighted he was with the manner in which they conducted themselves and for also keeping the program timetable bang on time! I share these sentiments to an absolute tee.
To the organising committee, the helpers, volunteers, sound guys, stage managers, door attendants and anyone else who provided/made/put up/pulled down the many goods or services, banners, posters, logos etc for the festival …. hearty congratulations on a great effort. To Veronica and Peter who assisted handing over the reins with a seamless transition to the new location. You two are worth your weight in gold!
And to the biggest group, who are sometimes a little overlooked …. the listeners. You guys are the best. The maximum audience capacity at Port Fairy was not too far more than the actual number who turned up this inaugural year. Thus, when word gets out how good it was and, without a skerrick of doubt, next year will only be better as this highly competent committee tweak their systems, I’d be booking/rebooking immediately in order to get yourself a bed for 2018. Just watch the gougers! I’ll see you there, all things being equal.”

David Lole has very accurately summarised the spirit of the inaugural port Fairy Jazz Festival so if you’re interested it would be wise to book early for Port Fairy 2018.
Eltham Jazz Festival 2017:
This weekend on Saturday the 26th of February and Sunday the 26th is the Eltham Jazz Food and Wine Festival with three stages central to the Eltham shopping centre. The music starts tomorrow morning at 11.45am with a program strongly emphasising jazz, blues and folk music. On the jazz side of things you can hear Michelle Nicolle, Shirazz, Barry Wratten & the Crescent City Connection and the New Orleans Pelicans Brass Band. For more details of artists and times go to
Other Jazz News :
Talking of Eltham this weekend, the Syncopators have the launch of their new CD The Pearls at Montsalvat this Sunday afternoon. Too late if you haven’t booked as it was booked out over a month ago just showing that the audience is there for great traditional jazz as presented by the Syncopators. The Syncopators will be holding another release concert some time in April before their forthcoming overseas tour.

The Australian Jazz Museum at 15 Mountain Highway , Wantirna has been carefully keeping , restoring and safeguarding rare items of Australian jazz heritage including photos , recorded music, books and magazines and musical instruments belonging to legendary Australian jazz musicians. You will have your chance to see some of these treasures at the Museum on Sunday the 30th of April 2017 between 10.00am & 3.00 pm. See

During the week the board of the Wangaratta Jazz Festival announced that it will not be renewing the contract of Adrian Jackson as artistic director of the festival. Adrian has been the artistic director of the Wangaratta Jazz Festival since the first festival 26 years ago. As yet his replacement has not yet been announced nor any succession planning to ensure the smooth transition of the Festival in to new management hands. We thank Adrian for innovative management of the Festival over the last 26 years and no doubt in Australia there are few equals to Adrian Jackson in the scope of his depth of understanding of and enthusiasm for jazz in Australia and worldwide.

Announcing the death of Jane La Scala

Dear Followers of Jazz Ramble,
We are very sad to announce the death of our mother, the wonderful Jane La Scala, who created Jazz Ramble in 2011 and enjoyed sharing her love of jazz with the world.
We know Jazz Ramble gave her a great deal of joy and allowed her to connect with many wonderful musicians and lovers of jazz in all corners of the globe.
Thank you for making her life richer and we have no doubt she made life more interesting for all of you.
with sadness, but joy as well,
her daughters Mary & Barbara

Bell Brothers Tribute @ Eltham

nillumbikON Wednesday 14 October 2015 the Shire of Nillumbik will stage a very special tribute to a pair of Australia’s iconic jazz musicians – Graeme and Roger Bell. This will take the form of a Tea Dance to be held at 3.00pm in the Eltham Community and Reception Centre, 801 Main Street, Eltham.

Bell Band, Sydney, 1948

Hyde Park, Sydney 1948

THE TRIBUTE BAND will be made up of musicians who are pretty much jazz icons themselves! Get a look at the list:
 Ian Smith ( trumpet and leader)  Dave Hetherington (clarinet)

Ian Smith and Dave Hetherington

Ian Smith and Dave Hetherington

 Chris Ludowyk (trombone)  Stephen Grant (piano)
Chris Ludowyk and Stephen Grant

Chris Ludowyk and Stephen Grant

 Mark Elton (bass)  John Cox (banjo)
Mark Elton and John Cox

Mark Elton and John Cox

and  Wes Brown (drums)
Wes Brown

Wes Brown

Also featured will be some of the newer generation of jazz musicians in The Eltham High School Jazz Band.

Eltham (now part of Nillumbik Shire) had particular significance in the early days of Graeme and Roger. In 1938, together with friend Peter Glass, they bought 6 acres of land in Eltham. Inspired by Justus Jorgenson of Montsalvat they decided on mudbrick houses and spent many congenial weekends with friends making bricks and carousing. Some weekends carousing outstripped brick making! Further details of this period can be found in Alistair Knox: We Are What We Stand On: a personal history of the Eltham community

Below is a photo from Graeme’s autobiography (Graeme Bell: Australian Jazzman) of a visit to the site with Rex Stewart in 1949.

Greme Bell a Eltham with Rex Stewart and friends Mud bricks in background 1949

Greme Bell at Eltham with Rex Stewart and friends
Mud bricks in background

The Bell house is still standing at 71 John Street. The house Peter Glass built is at 75 John Street.

71 John Street Eltham The Bell mudbrick house

71 John Street Eltham
The Bell mudbrick house

So put this date in your diaries to join in celebrating the music of the late Graeme and Roger Bell, and in commemorating the contribution these former Eltham residents made with their music in both Australia and overseas. And if you’re old enough, relive those wonderful times spent listening and/or dancing to the Bell bands.

Date: Wednesday 14 October
Time: 2:30pm (doors open) for 3pm start
Where: Eltham Community and Reception Centre
801 Main Road, Eltham
Cost: $15 book tickets through
before Tuesday 6 October
For further information or bookings after 6 October contact 9433 3157 or
Refreshments will be supplied by St Margaret’s Anglican Auxiliary.

Amongst the many Bell recordings, the following 2 CD set produced by the Australian Jazz Museum stands out as a great collection of early tracks. The Museum shop can be contacted online at

greme nd roger bell
Nillumbik Shire Council is supporting this event in conjunction with Nillumbik U3A, the Australian Jazz Museum and Eltham High School to present an afternoon of wonderful Jazz music.
(John Crichton and Mal Harrop run a jazz appreciation course for Nillumbik U3A on Monday afternoons at 4.00pm at the Eltham Living & Learning Centre, 739 Main Road, Eltham)

Johnny Adams and the joy of music

John with Herman Schweiger (Photo: Ron Jobe)

John with Hermann Schweiger
(Photo: Ron Jobe)

JOHNNY Adams’s joy in making music glowed from his smile, and was evident from his body language when he was in full swing at the piano.

Born in Castlemaine, Victoria in October 1938, John studied classical piano there at St Gabriel’s College for 3 years. When he was about 15 he was impressed by Graeme Bell’s version of Black and White Rag, but it wasn’t until he moved to Melbourne in 1954 to work at the Commonwealth Bank that he really came into contact with jazz. One lunchtime when he was “fooling about” on the piano in the Bank’s auditorium, John Morey, a fellow bank employee, asked him if he would like to join a band that he was putting together. This comprised Lachie Thomson (clarinet), Graham Bennett (drums) and John Morey himself who played trumpet.

At this stage John knew nothing about playing jazz chords or the relationship of one chord to another. As far as jazz was concerned he was basically self-taught as are many jazz musicians, having picked things up from observing and listening to other musos and recordings. His first professional gig was in 1956 with John Morey’s group when they played for a party for one of the girls at work.

A stint with the Dave Rankin Band followed which led to other bookings including intermission piano at Nick Polites’ Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band gigs at the Glen Iris RSL in 1957-58.

The 1960s was an exciting period for John as his growing reputation brought him opportunities to play in a wide range of styles and with a variety of high quality musicians. These included appearances on Channel 7’s Cool Cats Show with modern players such as Ted Vining (drums), Barry Buckley (bass) Alan Lee (vibes) and Graham Lyall (tenor sax); Bob Barnard’s Band; the Driftwood Jazz Band; the Kenn Jones Powerhouse Band; the John Foster Quartet on Channel 9’s In Melbourne Tonight; and various Storyville groups put together by Allan Leake with whom he maintained a musical connection for almost 20 years.

Cathay Pacific Jazz Australia Band Steve Miller, Ian Smith, Rex Swann, John Adams, Dave Hetherington, Hermann Schwaiger (photo: Ron Jobe)

Cathay Pacific Jazz Australia Band
Steve Miller, Ian Smith, Rex Swann, John Adams, Dave Hetherington, Hermann Schwaiger
(photo: Ron Jobe)

In 1990 John accepted Rex Swann’s invitation to join the Cathay Pacific Jazz Australia Band, a group presenting an eclectic mix of material to suit a wide ranging audience whilst playing good jazz. The band made a number of very successful visits to Hong Kong, Thailand and South Korea. He also visited Thailand with Allan Leake’s Storyville Allstars and The Storyville Jazztet.

Trio and small group playing were also an important feature of John’s musical career, including backing singers such as Beverley Sheehan and Patsy O’Neill. Other bands with which John played were the 8-piece “little big” orchestra Mainstem, The Melbourne Jazz Ensemble, The Jazz Buffs, The Alex Hutchinson/Alan Lee Quintet, The Syncopators, Stevenson’s Rockets, plus various small groups too numerous to mention. More recently he had a regular gig with Johnsy’s Red Hill Bakery Boys on the Mornington Peninsula.

John at The Red Hill Bakery

John at The Red Hill Bakery

John was also a very regular participant in the long-running Jazz Piano Lunches at the Rosstown Hotel in Carnegie where local jazz pianists who were available turned up to play for the delight of diners. Amongst these were such names as Graham Coyle, Rex Green, Kim Harris and Neville Turner. Here John plays Our Love is Here to Stay with saxophonist Barrie Boyes in September 2011.

In 1993 fourteen of Melbourne’s top jazz pianists got together for a marathon recording session as a fund-raising event for The Victorian Jazz Musicians’ Benefit Fund. The pianists played tunes of their own choice. John was one of the participants of course and one of his three choices was Billy Strayhorn’s beautifulLotus Blossom. Strayhorn was a pianist in Duke Ellington’s band, and this tune was one of the Duke’s favourites. In 2012 The Australian Jazz Museum (formerly The Victorian Jazz Archive) issued the session on a 2 CD set (VJAZZ020). Click on the photo of John to hear him play Lotus Blossom from that CD.
In a different jazz genre, John played with Barry Wratten’s Uptown Swing Band at the Victorian Jazz Club on St Patrick’s Day 2012 (exactly 3 years ago). Unfortunately you can only glimpse the top of his head and the occasional hand, but this is another example of his versatility. The lineup is Barry Wratten, clarinet; Ian Orr, trumpet; Les Fithall, trombone; Peter Baylor, guitar; John Adams, piano; Richard Mander, bass; Lynn Wallis, drums.

On a personal note, John played at a number of our birthday parties and at a special wedding. It was at my birthday party four and a half years ago that John told me that he had just been diagnosed with the cancer which finally overwhelmed him. During these final difficult years he continued to play beautiful piano and to smile his beutiful smile.

As a wonderful pianist Johnny Adams will be very sadly missed from the jazz scene. Equally as a joyful and gentlemanly presence. RIP John

John’s funeral will be held on Wednesday 18 March at St Christopher’s Church, 5 Doon Avenue, Syndal followed by a celebration and wake at The Whitehorse Club, 298 -336 Burwood Highway, East Burwood.

John Adams, piano master: Vale and Rest in Peace

Adams, JohnJOHN CHARLES ADAMS, “Johnny” to his very wide circle of family, friends and fans died on Monday 9 March 2015 at the age of 76. His death will greatly sadden the many who have grown used to having his piano brilliance constantly available, both those who have had the joy of listening to him and those who have played with him over the past fifty years. He will be missed not only for his music but for his unfailing good humour and generosity of spirit.

Our sympathies to Jo and family in their loss.

Clark Terry: jazz great dies at 94

clark terry 2Trumpeter Clark Terry, a true jazz legend who in his seven decades as a musician and bandleader collaborated with artists ranging from Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington to Charles Mingus and Count Basie, died on Saturday 21 February 2015 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, surrounded by his students, family and friends.

Clark Terry, who died aged 94, was one of the most accomplished all-round musicians in jazz. His faultless trumpet technique was allied to great melodic ingenuity. He had been a featured player in the bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones and was renowned for his good humour and even temper, qualities which served him well in his parallel careers of teacher and bandleader.

For nearly half a century, Clark’s greatest passion was helping to make young musicians’ dreams come true. He was a tremendous source of inspiration, of love, of respect, of decency, and of human rights. He was one of the first recruits to the United States Navy when black musicians were given the Rating of Musician in 1942. From being one of the few musicians who played as a featured soloist in both the Count Basie and the Duke Ellington Orchestras, to being the first black staff musician at NBC, Clark had multiple bands including big bands, youth bands and other ensembles. He was one of the most recorded jazz musicians in history on more than 900 albums.

Many obituaries have been published which give more details of Terry’s life. One such appeared in The Guardian of 26 February 2015. Click here to read it.

Clark Terry will be buried in the famous Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, NY which is the final resting place of other musical greats as Miles Davis, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, W. C. Handy, Lionel Hampton and “King” Oliver.

Ballarat! Ballarat! Ballarat!: 70th Australian Jazz Convention

Street Parade Swan Hill 69th Australian Jazz Convention

Street Parade Swan Hilll
69th Australian Jazz Convention
(photo: Roger Beilby)

AS many will already have heard, the golden city of Ballarat will host the next Australian Jazz Convention – the 70th in an unbroken line from the first Convention of 1946.

The AJC Executive Task Force which ran the Swan Hill Convention so successfully will again be managing this Convention. Perhaps it get easier with practice, but hats off to them for their stamina!

To remind you, membership of the Task Force is:
Rod Andrew, Promotions
Ken Hill, Programming
Reg Packer, Treasurer
Chris Gildersleeve, Secretariat and Website
Lucia Packer, Volunteers and Merchandising
Don Anderson, Archive

The new website should be up and running by the end of January which will give you details of registration, venues, volunteering etc.  Until the website goes live, you can ask any questions or make any comments via the AJC Facebook page.

This is bound to be a splendid affair given Ballarat’s proximity to Melbourne, the strength and vitality of jazz in Ballarat, (fostered by the Ballarat Jazz Club) and the grand setting and stunning venues which this historic city can provide. I notice on Facebook that already the many Ballarat hotels, motels and other places of accommodation are advertising their wares. There is always a lot going on in Ballarat, so that if you’re considering being at the Convention, it’s not too early to be thinking about securing a good spot to stay.

Ian Coots suggests (quite apocryphally I suspect) that the Task Force is considering adopting the logo below!