Australian Jazz Convention hits Ballarat with traditional tunes

Big noise: Musicians Reg Packer, Ken Hill and Rod Andrew get into formation for the Australian Jazz Convention, which started yesterday. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Big noise: Musicians Reg Packer, Ken Hill and Rod Andrew get into formation for the Australian Jazz Convention, which started yesterday. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Dedicated drummers, proficient pianists and boisterous brass bands have converged on Ballarat for the 72nd Australian Jazz Convention.

More than 140 bands have made the pilgrimage for the six-day event, which aims to encourage and promote jazz. 

A free public concert at Alfred Deakin Place tonight will showcase top jazz aficionados the Creole Bells Revival Band, The Syncopators and Pierre’s Hottentots from 6pm.

Another highlight was the cacophony of sound created by a procession through Bridge Mall this morning. A group of lively and loud musicians were joined by ragtime guys and gals holding decorated parasols.  

Famous jazz pianists Bob Sedergreen and Bruce Gourlay will perform to the Art Gallery of Ballarat tomorrow and Friday from 4pm. 

A free concert tonight at Alfred Deakin Place will give the public the chance to soak up some music in a relaxed atmosphere.  

Australian Jazz Convention marketing coordinator Rod Andrew said jazz is so enjoyable because it is sophisticated music which always affects the emotions. 

“We’ve all been playing for a long time, and the melody lines are eminently understandable, they go in your eyes and come out through your feet,” he said. 

Tickling the keys: Dr Steve Jewell playing at the Miners Tavern during the Australian Jazz Convention. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Tickling the keys: Dr Steve Jewell playing at the Miners Tavern during the Australian Jazz Convention. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Australian Jazz Convention executive committee president Ken Hill said that he’d been attending the convention since he was a child, seeing jazz greats such as Bob Barnard and Graeme Bell OAM. 

“When I first went in 1963 to the convention in Melbourne, it was huge,” he said. “I was just a kid and it blew me off my feet.”

“Jazz started out as American popular music in the 1920s, and I must emphasize, it was African-American musical genuises like Louis Armstrong who established what jazz really is. 

“If you went to Europe or America and asked who Bob Barnard was, they’d say he was a magic Australian trumpet player. 

“But you can do that in Australia and no-one has heard of him.

“People aren’t interested, and if they’re not trained in music themselves, they don’t know what’s going on. 

“A lot of those wonderful old musicians are gone, but we’re still doing it, and there are plenty of new kids coming along.”