On 26th February, 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band walked into the Victor Studios in New York and recorded the very first recognised jazz recording of Livery Stable Blues. Exactly one hundred years later to the day, in the Barn Gallery at Montsalvat, the Syncopators, in front of a packed audience of 200 people, launched their new album The Pearls. The event was the brainchild of the originator and producer of the jazz festivals held at Montsalvat from 1988 through to 1995, Mal Harrop.
When car-parking problems arose at Montsalvat, Mal took the festival into the city and named it the Marvellous Melbourne Jazz Festival. The Melbourne International Jazz Festival, which continues to this day, owes its beginnings to those earlier festivals run by Mal, as does the Wangaratta festival. In welcoming the audience to the Syncopators concert, Mal’s co-tutor in the Jazz Appreciation class, John Crichton, spoke of Mal’s legacy and his desire to bring live jazz back into the north east of Melbourne.