Australia's rich tradition of Jazz composition has finally been chronicled in the first ever Australian
a mammoth undertaking and quite a political process. Waleed Aly spoke to jazz musician and author of the Australian Jazz Real
Book, Tim Nikolsky. Bob Sedergreen also came in for a chat and the trio punched out a version of Bob's 'Intersection'.
Audio: Chris Thompson
Cameras and Editing: Paul J Penton
Many books have been written about Australian Jazz from the outside looking in, but this book is written from the inside and is a
revealing and rewarding experience, from the heart and soul of an important figure in the history of Australian Jazz.
impact and influence in performance, composition and eduation has secured his place as a national treasure. To play with Bob
Sedergreen has been described as the 'ultimate armchair ride.' To hear him is always exciting and satisfying. "Reading Hear Me Talking To Ya is like sitting next to Bob on a bar stool hearing a lifetime of jazz stories..."
You can also purchase
through Identity Promotions PO Box 2384, Kew 3101 $20 plus postage, or at any of Bob's gigs - or just go to your favourite bookstore
and purchase it. Contact Rae Sedergreen for further information.
Paul Williamson begins his set as part of a humble trio with Tim Neal on Hammond and Mike Jordan on drums. Jeff Lang strolls to the
stage to add some tasteful slide guitar to ‘Spoonful’. Musicians in attendance chuckle as drummer Mike Jordan dares to ask for more
sax in his monitor. The amiable Bob Sedergreen emerges to stamp his authority on the band with his understated but perfectly chosen
notes. Trumpet player Ross Irwin follows, then Dave Palmer on trombone and we’re now at a seven piece big band, as they smoke up the
stage like a pack of Chicago gangsters. Special guest Renee Geyer arrives to join the fun and kicks into a couple of blues jams including
‘Baby Please Don’t Go’.
After incrementally building to such a big band powerhouse, it’s a nice touch that Williamson chooses
to set aside time near the end for just he and Bob Sedergreen, giving the great piano man a much deserved nod of recognition.
an eleven day period, I’d seen a lot of jazz, a lot of great jazz. I missed a lot too, such is the extent of the festival’s program.
For my final fling I choose the more obscure, a jazz soiree at the Duldig Studio featuring the Janet Arndt Quartet. This gig is as
intimate as it gets, seated tightly, surrounded by the studio’s current art exhibition Art Behind The Wire. Arndt and her well-travelled
band run through a list of jazz vocal standards, appreciated greatly by the audience made up largely of friends to the studio. This
is the other end of the jazz spectrum, those who have already lived a long, rich, jazz life. At Stonnington this year, I also saw
the future of Australian jazz and I have to say it’s looking very bright.
Paul Williamson’s Hammond Jazz Combo,
teaming the saxophonist-singer with Tim Neal (Hammond organ) and Mike Jordan (drums, vocals), has become a fixture at Stonnington
Jazz. It is always a hoot. Paul loves to surprise with guest players on the night. This time we knew from the program that the combo
would be joined by Bob Sedergreen (piano), Ross Irwin (trumpet) and Dave Palmer (trombone), but it was a huge thrill to see Jeff Lang appear
for the fourth song and later Renee Geyer entering into the antics.
The taste of Lang’s slide guitar was not enough for me. I
could have listened all night to Sedergreen’s swinging notes. And Tim Neal on the Hammond can send out vibrations that are sensational
in bodily sense.
There were serious moments — Let The Good Times Roll was played as a tribute to the recently departed Gil Askey —
but this gig had its usual party feel, with some delicious brassy farts and lots of horns either going ballistic or delighting in
their united power.
If you’ve never been to this jazz party, make sure to come next year.
Bob Sedergreen’s first gig was in a rock and roll band at the Sandringham lifesaving club in 1950. In the years that followed, the
Kew resident shared the international stage with jazz greats to the tune of Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Nat Adderley, gaining
him a world of experience.
Now he’s coming back to where it all began with a performance at the Stonnington Jazz Festival on
Wednesday, May 21. The festival, now in its ninth year, brings together Australian artists, based here and overseas, to provide
memorable performances for local jazz lovers.
Sedergreen’s love of jazz comes from performing, where he has a chance to
interact with the audience.
“You play in smoky jazz clubs with like 90 people and you can see if they’re digging it, it’s you
communicating with people and them communicating with you, so it’s a beautiful thing,” he said.
This year he plans to bring
something a bit different to the festival. “Well because it’s a jazz festival it’s a special occasion and people are looking
for something different,” he said.
“So we’ll be playing a whole spectrum of compositions of piano pieces starting in the 1930s
through to modern ones, but played on different instruments. We also have lots of guests who have their own versions.”
these guests is The Stonnington Jazz Initiative, a community program Sedergreen helped to create that is open to kids who live or
go to school in the Stonnington area.
Sedergreen is a former lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts and he tries
to create an experience for the kids they wouldn’t receive in school. “In most schools they play in stage bands – that’s the
only experience they get. It’s more swing and it doesn’t tell them about jazz,” he said.
“So what we do is we throw the music
away, throw the stands away and I say ‘Listen, we’re just going to play our butts off and have a good time’. That’s how I learnt and
so we give them the freedom that I had.”
His support of local music festivals comes back to a love of performing live.
in the old days, people wanted to go out, not stay at home. Now people listen to music with earphones but it isn’t in real time so
you can’t feel it, you can only hear it. But with live music you can feel it, see it, smell it – you become a part of the experience,”
“When you do want to see something live it’s usually big commercial things where you have to go to these huge stadiums
with thousands of people but with jazz, it’s a personal experience.”
Stonnington Jazz Festival closed on Sunday, May 25.
"This month's blog post is about an incredible musician who has significantly contributed to Australian jazz for decades. He
is an Australian jazz legend - Bob Sedergreen.
I was lucky enough to be taken under his wing over 8 years ago. This blog
is about our experiences together, Bob's approach as a mentor and renowed Australian (and American) jazz musicians we have encountered
along the way.
"‘Mo Life’ is all about what influences me with my art and music. Sometimes (if I’m lucky) things I learn and
am influenced by go much, much deeper than expected. A major influence on my life and music is Australian jazz legend, Bob Sedergreen,
a generous teacher turned good friend.
Any working jazz musician in Australia knows who he is and knows what he has done. His
impact and influence in performance, composition and education for over half a century has secured his place as a national treasure."
...on Bob Sedergreen
BLOW AT THE ELLINGTON, PERTH WA
Although the quintet BLOW does not have a guitarist, it is my view that their philosophy, programming and approach to the artform
of jazz epitomize the very best of Australian jazz. Co-led by drummer Ted Vining and tenor saxophonist Peter Harper the band’s repertoire
is a judicious mix of originals with an occasional standard included. On the night I heard them BLOW featured compositions by Peter
Harper, flugelhornist Ian Dixon and pianist Bob Sedergreen.
So what makes BLOW so special? Tertiary jazz education has dominated
the jazz landscape in Australia since the 1980s. A probably unintended consequence has been that many jazz bands consist of players
of the same age. In other words musicians who meet while undertaking their jazz studies stay together – they are the same age and
have had the same education and same experiences. BLOW is the complete opposite. Vining and Sedergreen are first generation contemporary
Australian jazz musicians. Their approach was formulated by the jazz of the 1950s/60s – Miles, Trane, Monk, Herbie, Tyner et al. In
fact both musicians have had the opportunity to play with US greats such as Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie and Nat Adderley in decades
gone by. I personally count myself very fortunate that I have shared the bandstand with both plus the late Barry Buckley – bassist
in the original Ted Vining Trio. On various occasions at Melbourne’s Bennett’s Lane and here in Perth I have played vibes and guitar
with Bob Sedergreen and I can attest to the virtuosity and creativity of a jazz pianist who, I believe, has no equal in Australia.
There is a certain quality that Ted and Bob bring to the bandstand that can only be gained by playing this music for a long time.
Harper and Ian Dixon are from a younger generation – a generation that in Australian jazz has really valued travel and the experience
that can be assimilated from residing in other parts of the world – notably Britain and Europe. They bring to the bandstand a slightly
different viewpoint but inculcated to their playing is a deep respect for the legacy Bob and Ted have given to Australian jazz.
double bassist Gareth Hill is a younger generation again and his virtuosity and enthusiasm for the music certainly inspires the quintet.
is a certain texture to BLOW that, to me, is redolent of the music of Australian classical composer Peter Sculthorpe – both seem to
capture an Australian-ness capturing the timelessness and immensity of the Australian landscape. Of course BLOW and Sculthorpe use
entirely different devices to arrive at the same conclusion. The texture of flugelhorn and tenor is unique in world jazz with the
flugelhorn providing at once an astringency and mellowness that helps convey a juxtaposition of tranquillity and flux that underscores
the universality of the music. The audience at Ellington, not used to jazz of this honesty on a regular basis, were most appreciative
of the performance.
It is inevitable for jazz in Australia today that for music to be presented and toured of the style and calibre
of BLOW, funding is essential. I sincerely hope that the funding body here understands it got more than it invested and that it continues
to support applications for jazz of the high standard of BLOW.
Garry Lee - Jazz Guitar Society of Western Australia
STONNINGTON JAZZ 2014
Paul Williamson Hammond Jazz Party
Bob Sedergreen, Tim Nikolsky ... and Waleed Aly
"HEAR ME TALKING TO YA" -
On the 29th November 2015, Bob was the CommBank's nominated "Australian of The Day"
Visit the website
to read his profile.