Jazz Appreciation Group
The Jazz Appreciation Group meets each Monday afternoon under the leadership of John Crichton.
The Jazz Appreciation Group meets each Monday afternoon under the leadership of John Crichton.
The annual school concert of St Helena Secondary College was held on Tuesday evening, 17th October. St Helena Secondary College has an extensive music program and, on the evening, six different school bands performed (e.g. Show Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, SuperSax Band), involving around 100 students.
One novel feature of this year’s concert involved a series of presentations of Excellence Awards on behalf of our Jazz Appreciation Class. John Crichton, tutor of the class, described the development of Jazz By The Green, a joint initiative of the Jazz Appreciation Class and the Eltham Bowling Club. This initiative was the idea of the late Mal Harrop and continues to be organised by John. Over the last seven years, it has resulted in around 60 monthly live jazz events involving scores of different Victorian jazz bands, each playing to a usual audience of about 120 people.
The Jazz Appreciation Class’s share of the profits from these Jazz By The Green events is used to promote and foster jazz education at government secondary schools in Nillumbik. The recent presentation at St Helena Secondary College is an example of this commitment.
On the evening, John presented four awards. Each award (entitled The Harrop-Crichton Award) was for a student in each of the four senior school bands who had shown exceptional promise and expertise in improvised music. In addition, funds from the Jazz By The Green events were given to the school to purchase a new string bass – an instrument that the school did not possess, but that was highly desired as part of the music program. The evening was an example of how Nillumbik U3A can contribute to the local community.
The Harrop-Crichton Awards will be made available in the future, depending on the continued success of the Jazz By The Green program.
The annual concert evening was a great success, and the awards delighted the whole school and, particularly, the students who were their recipients.
The guest speaker, Dr. Jo Stevenson, leader of Stevenson’s Rockets jazz band, spoke about the intricacies of mixing duties of a professional jazz musician with those of a busy suburban General Practitioner. He also reminisced on his experiences as a member of several well-known jazz bands over many years. A brief clarinet recital capped off his highly appreciated presentation. The photo right is of Dr. Stevenson with ‘the beast’ – a rare 1923 CONN bass saxophone.
On 28th October, the monthly Jazz by the Green event, organised jointly by our Jazz Appreciation Class and the Eltham Bowling Club, celebrated its 50th program since its inception in 2017 (it would have been nearly 60 if it hadn’t been for Covid). Around 100 patrons enjoyed jazz from David Gardner’s Quintet with its dedication to the music of the great swing-era clarinettists Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Pictured below are members of the Jazz Appreciation Class together with Roslyn, Marion, Rob and Frank from the Bowling Club (photo credit: Sue Norfolk).
Our Jazz Appreciation class is an opportunity for people to get together to share ideas and learn about jazz music and the diversity of styles. During this time of restrictions, we are exploring other ways to experience jazz, and I wanted to share some songs with you.
All music is a source of many things. It allows us to escape into the sublime, to drift into another time and to encourage feel-good fun. At this unusual time, music reminds us that people have always had to meet challenges, to cope with difficulty and to find sources of support. Listening to music may help during the current times, as it has through much of history. The song titles below show how music can reflect personal experiences.
So, how are you going in your solitude? I suppose you don’t get around much anymore, and there is a lull in your life. Certainly, things ain’t what they used to be, and it’s tempting just to stay sitting and rocking in your chair. Are you by yourself, or are you alone together? If we could see you now, would we notice that you are trying to get happy? We hope that you are packing up all your cares and woes and having some fun!
In the list below, there are links to some jazz songs written in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. These were historically tough times in many ways: epidemics, world war and economic depression. Music was a way to share the sadness as well as the sunshine. This collection of songs provides another way to reflect on today’s testing times by re-visiting the past. Each song is provided as a YouTube video. Explore and enjoy yourself!
Resulting from the restrictions associated with COVID-19, all Jazz by the Green events at the Eltham Bowling Club have been cancelled until further notice.
The Jazz by the Green monthly events commenced in March 2017 and are conducted in partnership between the Nillumbik U3A Jazz Appreciation Group (JAG) and the Eltham Bowling Club. Jazz aficionados have responded enthusiastically and bookings are often filled to capacity within minutes of going online.
Revenue from these events, after band fees, hall-hire, food and other incidentals are paid, is shared equally between the Bowling Club and the JAG. The JAG share is deposited in a special Bequest Fund for the purpose of financially supporting secondary school students in government schools within the community of Nillumbik, who are in music programmes and who have a flair for, or an interest in, further study towards improvisation, i.e. the jazz musicians of the future.
To date, the Bequest has provided support for:
Sadly, the advent of the COVID-19 virus prevented the group’s departure from Australia, just two weeks before they were due to leave. This would obviously have been a bitter disappointment for the group after months of planning and preparation, but that disappointment is possibly assuaged by knowing that the virus was already rampant in the places that they intended to visit. The Bequest funding will now be retained by the school to support its music program’s proposed alternative tour later this year, to aid and entertain the victims of the bushfire ravaged areas of Victoria.
The JAG is looking forward to its further involvement with the Eltham Jazz, Food and Wine Festival in 2021, and to continue support of music programs in government secondary schools in the Nillumbik community. The Group is proud that, in partnership with the Eltham Bowling Club, such worthwhile quality entertainment has been provided not only for the enjoyment of the jazz lovers in the community but that live music, on a regular basis, has been brought home to Eltham after an extended absence.
We hope that Jazz by the Green gigs will be able to resume in the near future, but this will depend on all COVID-19 restrictions regarding numbers permitted and social distancing being lifted. A return to events at the Green will be a welcome and enjoyable relief for our audiences after many months of pandemic lockdown and enforced hibernation.
Our last gig for 2019 gave the audience an opportunity to meet, and listen to, the two young musicians, Chanel Langdon from St. Helena College, and Dean Coehlo, from Eltham High School, who the Jazz Appreciation Group have financially supported for their attendance at the jazz improvisation workshops, at the Australian Jazz Museum this year and to see and hear them sit-in with the Maryborough Traditional Jazz Ensemble.
Stuart Winstanley videoed the sit-in during the last set. This captured the last 20 minutes of the night on stage, with the students and the band ‘jamming’ together.
Watch the edited video. The lady who appears at the start of the video, is the convenor of the jazz improvisation workshops, Marina Pollard.
Chanel and Dean will appear with their respective school bands and with the jazz improvisation workshops band at the Eltham Jazz, Food and Wine Festival to be held 22-23 February. The U3A Jazz Appreciation Group is sponsoring the bands for their appearance and contributing to the general staging of the Festival.
Our first gig at the Green for 2020 is on Sunday, 19th January, commencing at 1.30 pm, with the Blues’ Express. Those interested in attending are advised to register their email address with Roslyn Camera from the Eltham Bowling Club on 9439 4467. You will then be informed of each event and when the bookings open.
The monthly jazz events conducted by the Jazz Appreciation Class, in partnership with the Eltham Bowling Club, commenced in March 2017 and continue to play to capacity crowds. These jazz nights have been welcomed by the community, and have provided an opportunity to mix and meet socially with other local residents and to enjoy first-rate jazz entertainment in safe and convivial surroundings.
A Bequest Fund has been established by the Jazz Appreciation Class to use their share of the revenue from these events (after musicians’ fees, food costs, hall hire, etc have been deducted). The fund is in the name of Mal Harrop (late patron) and John Crichton (tutor). It was Mal’s express wish that the Fund be utilised to support and nurture secondary school students in the local government schools that have music programmes designed to encourage participation in, or interest in, improvised music, i.e. jazz.
This year the Fund has supported the fees of two local students who undertook 24 weeks of tuition provided by professional jazz musicians at the Jazz Improvisation Workshops conducted under the auspices of the Australian Jazz Museum. The Fund will also support three bands (from St. Helena College, Eltham High School and the Jazz Improvisation Workshops) that will perform at the Eltham Jazz, Food & Wine Festival to be held in February next year, as well as contributing towards the staging of the Festival.
The final jazz event for the year at the Green will be held on Friday, 13th December, at which the two workshop students supported by the Fund will be introduced to the audience and given the opportunity to sit-in with the professional band appearing that night.
Bookings for Jazz by the Green can only be made online and sell out quickly. Those interested in attending are advised to register their email address with Roslyn Camera from the Eltham Bowling Club on 9439 4467. They will then be informed of each event and when bookings open.
The Jazz Appreciation Class will continue to investigate means of encouraging and supporting young musicians in the community, consistent with the wishes and legacy of its late patron, Dr. Mal Harrop, OAM.
In late July, 21 of us undertook a guided tour of the Australian Jazz Museum, located at Wantirna. The museum has national accreditation to house the archives of all material relating to jazz music & performance, recordings and jazz memorabilia, both from within Australia and overseas. The tour included an hour’s live jazz performance by professional musicians, followed by coffee, tea and light refreshments. The tour was thoroughly enjoyed by all and a most rewarding experience for lovers of jazz music.
One of the historic pieces in the Museum’s custody is the Montsalvat Jazz Festival Roll of Honour. This contains the names of a number of prominent people, particularly musicians, radio personnel, patrons and one politician who were instrumental in various ways in the festivals held between 1988 and 1996. One notable omission was the name of the Founder and Principal Director of the Festivals, the late Mal Harrop, who was also the founder of the ‘Friends of Montsalvat’ whose membership now numbers several hundreds. The class presented a framed and suitably inscribed photograph of Mal to be attached to the Honour Roll. Mal’s widow, Val, joined the tour group (the photo on the right is of Val and myself).