Jazz has always been inventive, a bit out there, allowing the musicians to improvise on core tunes. Very Australian characteristics.
Jazz started in the African-American and Creole communities of Louisiana, USA, with influences from Africa and France. It was embraced by white Americans but has always retained its strong ethnic origins. The great jazz musicians have been predominantly coloured, but for most of jazz’s history, it has been the music that has provided bonds across ethnic heritage.
Today, Australian jazz bears little ethnic boundaries, and Fine Jazz of Fine Music Sydney covers musicians from across the planet. However, it does not have a strong contribution from our indigenous community, the dominant genres being hip-hop, rap, country, and rock. Even so, the improvisations possible with the didgeridoo can be said to provide the same structural frame as a good double bass and drum kit. This synthesis is reflected in the recently released album from Yulugi, that melds western traditions of piano and flute with the didgeridoo.
A lot of Australian jazz has been the trad jazz in the pubs, such as was featured by Dave Mac on last Sunday’s Classic Jazz & Ragtime (available On Demand here). Or the dance halls of the swing era that is featured by John Buchanan’s Swing Sessions on Mondays at noon. Soup Plus and The Basement are part of Sydney’s jazz history, and new venues around inner city Marrickville are the future.
That said, place names across Australia are often the inspiration for inventive jazz and reflect many indigenous origins.
Tuesday’s Jazz Rhythm at noon with Jeannie McInnes will take you on a mystery tour of towns that have been the inspiration for Australian jazz musicians. Starting and ending in Sydney, Jeannie will take you via Kakadu, Innamincka, Wagga Wagga and Urunga.From Don Burrows to the Yarra Yarra Reunion Jazz Band.
We acknowledge the Gamaragal peoples of the Eora nation on whose land Fine Jazz on Fine Music Sydney programs are prepared. And look for greater inclusion on indigenous music in our jazz.