THE MUSIC MUST NOT DIE

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Today is a sad day. It is the final day on which music, other than on The Music Show, will be featured on ABC Radio National.

It is also a day of action, in which all who are dismayed by this decision are using social media, telephones and emails to inundate the ABC during the day to demonstrate the level of our concern and to encourage more listeners to sign the petition calling the ABC board to save RN music.

My radio

My radio

As part of this day of action, we are urged to post images of our radio across all forms of media.

This is my radio. Like me, it is seen many years. It has a solar panel on top. It has a crank at the side that can power the radio in case the batteries go flat. It used to have an aerial. It used to have a torch at one end. It receives AM and FM, but it cannot pick up digital broadcasts. So from today on it will not pick up Mal Stanley’s Jazztrack.

My radio is battered. I could not possibly count the number of times it has fallen off something, the batteries flying out. Yet it plays a vital and essential part of my life. The volume control is dickey, so that the ABC programs I listen to are often either too loud or almost inaudible. It requires sensitive handling. But it always recovers from each fall, to live another day, to continue its broadcasting role.

My radio is like the ABC.  It is often battered. It requires sensitive handling. But it always recovers after a fall.

The crazy decision to excise music from Radio National is a dramatic fall, but the ABC can recover. It can reverse this decision. Music can return to Radio National.

To make that happen, it is important that we support the campaign to save RN music.

Ausjazz.net urges all to support the campaign, to take up this issue with the ABC Board and to broadcast the message that we refuse to accept that the music has died.

Roger Mitchell

On November 30 last year an open letter was sent to Members of the ABC Board and ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie. It is reproduced below, along with its signatories. The battle continues.

As musicians and music industry professionals, we are appalled by the decision taken by ABC management to scrap The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set and The Rhythm Divine, and to remove Jazztrack from Radio National. This decision was taken without proper industry and public consultation and must be reconsidered and reversed.

The cuts deliver a fundamental blow to diverse, vibrant and independent sectors of the Australian music industry, which receive minimal national radio coverage elsewhere.

These programs are among the remaining windows for Australian artists to tell their stories about Australian life, for people to hear and learn from those stories and for all Australians to hear the songs and stories of other cultures from around the world.

Further, they support and underpin a music sector that, according to Music Australia, contributes between $4 and $6 billion to the Australian economy annually and which generates close to 65,000 jobs, over half of which are full-time.

They are essential listening for those working in this vibrant industry and should not be discarded on the grounds of ratings.

We do not believe that the proposed additions to Double J in any way compensate for Radio National’s losses, especially given that Double J is only available in digital format. We are deeply concerned about listeners in regional, rural and remote areas where the Internet and digital radio access is problematic at best. Many of these listeners rely on linear broadcasting.

It is clear that the cuts contradict the intent and spirit of the ABC Charter, which outlines two of “the functions of the Corporation” as:

  • –  “broadcasting programs that contribute a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community;”
  • –  “to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia.”

Collectively, The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack provide specialist, linear broadcasting of diverse music that is not broadcast nationally elsewhere with equivalent depth, breadth and expertise.

This music is often outside the mainstream. It includes folk, roots, world, blues, jazz and adult contemporary, among the many genres. It champions unique voices, small communities, alternative perspectives, story telling (particularly of Australian stories), experimentation, live performance, improvisation and excellence.

Much of this music is released independently by highly-respected Australian musicians who have developed enthusiastic audiences through extensive touring, depending on RN’s Australia-wide reach for promotion. Many perform regularly in regional, rural and/or remote areas.

The shows set for axing also provide promotion and national live broadcasting of numerous Australian music events, including major festivals, such as Byron Bay Bluesfest, Woodford Folk Festival, the National Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, as well as small festivals and community gatherings. These provide regional, rural and remote areas with opportunities for place-making, musical education, tourism and economic growth.

While we value and admire Double J, we do not believe that it can fill the hole left by the cuts, despite additions proposed for 2017. These additions are limited to a four-times weekly (rather than weekly) programming of The Beat Eclectic, which covers “post rock, punk and pop, ambient and acoustic sounds”; the introduction of Fat Planet, which ran on FBi from 2003-2008 and “showcases new music from around the world, such as Scandinavian folk, Japanese dubstep and Chilean post- punk”; and a “new live music show” to feature “new recordings from local and international artists”. Meanwhile, Triple J’s primary focus will remain the youth market.

Without The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack, how will ABC Radio possibly “reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community”?

We also emphasise the importance of RN Music’s expert broadcasters. Lucky Oceans, Paul Gough, Geoff Wood and Alice Keath are some of Australia’s most experienced, knowledgeable, passionate and intelligent musical minds. The casting off of these irreplaceable staff members contradicts RN’s commitment to “specialist content across arts and culture” broadcasting, as outlined on RN’s website.

We are far from alone in our opposition. A petition to save RN Music, launched on November 14th, has already attracted over 12,000 signatures, and numerous high-profile figures – both Australian and international have officially endorsed the petition statement. These include Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, Archie Roach AM, Gurrumul, Kate Ceberano, Tim Winton, Neil Murray, Sarah Blasko, Megan Washington, Mike Nock, Shane Howard AM, Don Walker, Tim Freedman, Lindy Morrison OAE, Glen Hansard, Andy Irvine, Gina Williams, Paul Grabowsky AO, Rob Hirst, Deborah Conway, John Butler, Iva Davies AM, the Waifs and many, many more.

In a public statement, author Tim Winton writes:

“At a time when it seems every element of home-grown culture is under siege, it’s bewildering to see Radio National stripping music shows from its programming. To musicians, composers, producers and listeners alike, this retreat feels like a betrayal, a signal that ABC management feels no need to repay the loyalty of its audience. For years Radio National has been a defender of Australian culture and a means by which new writers, players and composers find an audience.”

Also in a public statement, Katie Noonan writes:

“I simply can not fathom how anyone would have thought this was a good idea for the Australian people … In regional Australia these radio shows are literally the lifeline for cultural connectivity … Having been lucky enough to tour this great big country of ours many times, I know how absolutely vital these programs are to people’s lives … The catastrophic effects of these cuts will be enormous on multiple levels – this decision has simply not been thought through properly and absolutely needs to be reversed”.

We urge the Board and management to respond to the following questions:

  1. (1)  Can you assure the listening public that the changes will not reduce the diversity of music styles played, the amount of new Australian music promoted, the number of Australian musicians profiled and the resources devoted to these activities?
  2. (2)  Will the changes reduce regional access to Australian music?
  3. (3)  Is the ABC confident the changes won’t reduce audiences for the genres covered by RN Music, or adversely impact the live music ecosystem for these musicians and their audiences?
  4. (4)  Has the ABC considered, in delivering on its charter, its responsibility to the broader music community and to the country, to contribute to an original, national musical culture and identity, to support viable careers and to support an important national industry, culturally and economically?

We also ask the board to look at the thousands of comments on the petition as well as others on social media.

https://www.savernmusic.com

Finally, we again call on the ABC to review this ill-considered decision, as outlined in the petition statement, and to return The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack to Radio National in 2017. It’s our ABC.

We would be happy to discuss these issues further.
Link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/michael-mason-hands-off-radio-national-music

Yours Sincerely,
Ruth Hazleton & the ‘Hands Off Radio National Music’ campaign team.

Adrian Jackson – Artistic Director Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival Andrew Legg – UTAS Director, Conservatorium of Music
Andy Irvine (Ireland)
APRA/AMCOS Board
Archie Roach AM
Association of Australian Musicians (AM)
Australian Independent Musicians Association (AIMA)
Barney McAll – Peggy Glanville Hicks Resident
Ben Northey – Associate Conductor MSO
Bernard Fanning
Black Market Music
Bob, Margaret & James Fagan
Brett Kingman
Cameron Undy – Owner Venue 505
Chong Lim – MD John Farnham/Dancing with the Stars
Chris Wilson
Craig Scott – Chair of Jazz Studies Sydney Conservatorium of Music Country Music Association of Australia (CMMA)
David Spelman – Artistic Director NY International Guitar Festival Dan Sultan
Deborah Conway
Djakapurra Munyarryun
Djolpa McKenzie
Dobe Newton
Don Walker
Eddie Perfect
Elizabeth Rogers, CEO Regional Arts NSW
Fairbridge Festival
Fred Smith
Folk Alliance Australia
Genevieve Lacey
Gina Williams
Glen Hansard (Ireland)
Greg Fleet
Gurrumul Yunupingu
Head Records
Helen Marcou & Quincy McLean – SLAM & Bakehouse Studios
Iain Grandage – Artistic Director Port Fairy Spring Music Festival
Iva Davies AM
James Morrison AM
Jamie Oehlers – Coordinator of Jazz Studies, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University Jack Charles
Jane Clifton
Jazz Queensland
Jeff Lang
Jim Conway
Joe Camilleri
Joe Geia
Joe Henry (US)
John Butler
Jonathan Dimond – Head of Program/Senior Lecturer, Melbourne Polytechnic Julian Burnside AO QC
Dr Jon Rose (Don Banks Award)
Jordie Lane
Kate & Phil Ceberano
Katie Noonan – Artistic Director Queensland Music Festival
Kavisha Mazella
Ken Stringfellow (US)
Kerrie Glasscock – Artistic Director Sydney Fringe Festival
Kutcha Edwards
Leah Flanagan
Lindy Hume – Artsistic Director Opera QLD
Lindy Morrison OAM
Lior Attar
Liz Frencham
Lucie Thorne
Lyn Williams OAM – Director Gondwana Choirs and Sydney Children’s Choir Marcia Howard
Marc Ribot (US)
Margaret Roadknight
Mark Atkins
Mary Black (Ireland)
Mary Mihelakos
Megan Washington
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Melbourne Jazz Coop (MJC)
Michael Franti (US)
Michael Tortoni – Owner Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
Mick Thomas
Mike Nock (Don Banks Award)
Miroslav Bukovsky – Distinguished Artist in Residence, School of Music, ANU Missy Higgins
Monique Brumby
Mullum Music Festival
Music Australia
The Music Trust
Nannup Music Festival
National Celtic Festival
National Folk Festival
Nick Bailey – General Manager, ANAM
Dr Nick Haywood – Coordinator of Contemporary Music, UTAS Conservatorium Paul Dempsey
Paul Grabowsky AO
Paul Kelly
Dr Paul Williamson – Coordinator of Jazz Ensembles and Honours, Monash Uni Peter Noble OAM – Artistic Director of Byron Bay Bluesfest
Port Fairy Folk Festival
Rebecca Barnard
Rhonda Burchmore
Richard Letts AM – Founder, Music Council of Australia, President, International Music Council
Associate Professor Robert Burke – Coordinator of Jazz & Popular Music, Monash Uni
Dr Robert Vincs – Head of Jazz & Improvisation, VCA, Melbourne University
Rod Vervest -Program Manager Perth International Arts Festival
Ross Wilson
Sarah Blasko
Shane Howard AM
Simon Burke AO
Skinnyfish Music
Slava & Leonard Grigoryan
Spiderbait
Stephen Pigram
Steve Nieve (England)
Sydney Fringe Festival
Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA)
Thirsty Merc
Tim Freedman
Tim Rogers
Tim Winton
Tracy Bartram
Truckstop Honeymoon (USA)
Vince Jones
The Waifs
William Barton
Which Way Music Woodford Folk Festival

FINDING CONSOLATION IN SADNESS

Still Night: Music in Poetry

Still Night: Music in Poetry                                      Image: Natasha Blankfield

REVIEW

Still Night: Music in Poetry, Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre, Friday 25 November 2016, 7pm

There is a gradually growing section in our hallway book shelves that contains poetry, yet it is all too rarely visited. In that respect it is like death, which we too often avoid confronting until it is thrust upon us.

So much can be conveyed in poetry if we give it the time to reflect upon it that it deserves. So much can be conveyed in music if we give it the attention it deserves, by listening.

In Still Night composer and pianist Andrea Keller gave us the opportunity to hear the music in poetry as well as the time to reflect on the many strands of thought expressed in 10 carefully chosen and very different poems that deal with death, grief and loss.

Keller (piano) joined Julien Wilson (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Stephen Magnusson (guitars) and vocalists Gian Slater and Vince Jones in an hour-long set in the acoustically rich Salon space that was totally absorbing.

Keller’s program notes explain that this project arose out of a realisation that her isolated experiences of death, grief and loss, as well as the inadequacy of Anglo-Australian culture to deal with the emotions of such realities, differed sharply from the life evident in a Copenhagen cemetery she visited in 2007, where people enjoyed picnics, admired the beauty of the gardens and paid respect to loved ones.

Still Night: Music in Poetry

Still Night: Music in Poetry                             Image: Natasha Blankfield

This concert worked on many levels, but I found myself slipping easily between momentary explorations of the ideas conveyed by the words and the pure joy of experiencing voice and other instruments.

From the opening poem, Listen, Listen by Izumi Shikibu, it was clear we would be given time to reflect on the words and to feel their meanings conveyed on surges of sound, as if ocean waves washed them to us.

In E.E. Cummings’ Finis, the power of piano contrasted with the fragility and purity of the voices, which were undulating, rocking, ebbing and flowing, Slater’s notes bending with great agility.

One of the most effective of the night’s poems was Proust’s bleak So Tired of Having Suffered, Slater’s voice beginning as a whisper and gaining strength, drama coming from Keller and Wilson, and Jones adding a kind of mantra with a jazz feel.

The chemistry between Wilson and Slater in Yeats’ Where My Books Go was given additional synergy by Magnusson and Keller.

Anyone familiar with Jeannie Lewis’s rendition of Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night will understand that I have long associated those lyrics with power, but Jones’s gentle vocals made this more of an appeal than an exhortation. Magnusson’s guitar journey in this was superb.

The words of Richard James Allen’s poem Hamlet’s Reply convey loss and emptiness in a powerful way, especially the last lines: “Alone, with nothing but the night. Alone. And soon, just the night.” I thought that Jones’s voice was vying with the sax in this, so those lyrics were a little lost at a crucial point.

Slater’s voice — ethereal and boundless — was eminently suited to Whitman’s Darest Thou O Soul, floating over the strong piano patterns created by Keller. And Magnusson’s spindly, fine tendrils of sound were ideal for Teasdale’s optimistic If Death is Kind, in which the vocalists blended and crossed beautifully.

Julien Wilson’s work on tenor sax and bass clarinet was an absolute delight during this concert.

In considering how Still Night: Music in Poetry might contribute to our responses to death, Andrea Keller quotes Robert White that “meditating on a beautiful expression of sadness can help to provide a thoroughly uplifting sense of consolation”.

Each member of the sold-out Salon audience will know whether this work succeeded, but I can say that to me it was a journey to places that I needed to explore.

ROGER MITCHELL

PS: Ode to a Nightingale is my favourite Keats poem, and I love these lines:

Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Andrea Keller

Andrea Keller performs at Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues 2016

WOMEN COME UP TRUMPS – AGAIN

Laila Biaili

Laila Biali                      Image supplied

PREVIEW

19th Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival, December 4-11, 2016, Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club

On the eve of Donald Trump taking the reins in the United States of America, it seems appropriate — and indeed vital — for women and men of Australia (as Gough Whitlam used to say, albeit not in that order) to come out and enjoy music mostly created and played by women.

Artists from Canada, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne will share the products of their lifestyle choices over eight days from Sunday, December 4. And in that bittersweet way of a top festival, there will be clashes — occasions when you will be torn between gigs that you won’t want to miss, but must choose between.

Opening night will feature Jann Rutherford Memorial Award winner, pianist Emma Stephenson — along with Nick Henderson (bass) and Oli Nelson (drums) as Hieronymus Trio — in collaboration with inventive vocalist Gian Slater. Stephenson has composed new material and reworked earlier compositions for this performance. Slater has been a finalist in the Freedman Fellowship in 2004 and 2010, The National Jazz Awards in 2005, and the Bell Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2010 and 2013. Hieronymus Trio has been mentored by Ari Hoenig, John Riley, Aaron Goldberg, Craig Scott, Simon Barker and Matt McMahon.

On Monday, December 5 the festival student night will celebrate emerging female musicians with a line-up featuring performers from Loreto Toorak, Stonnington Youth Jazz Initiative, Lowther Hall and Ringwood Secondary College.

Tuesday, December 6 brings an opportunity to hear prolific composer and pianist Andrea Keller with Stephen Magnusson guitar and James McLean on drums in Transients V, one of her trios inspired by the philosophy and legacy of esteemed mentor Allan Browne. Based on a collective approach to music making, the trios perform original compositions, improvisations, as well as selections from the American and Australian songbooks.

Canadian multi-award winning pianist and vocalist Laila Biali appears for her first Australia performance with countrymen Adam Thomas (drums) and Joel Fountain (bass) on Wednesday, December 7. Laila has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Tokyo’s Cotton Club and Carnegie Hall. She has toured with Grammy award winners Chris Botti, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, recorded with and supported Sting and was “Keyboardist of the Year” at Canada’s National Jazz Awards.

On Thursday, December 8, Emma Gilmartin will join James Sherlock (guitar), Frank Di Sario (double bass) and Danny Fischer (drums) to launch her album The Emma Gilmartin Quartet: Live at Bennetts Lane recorded by Niko Schauble of Pughouse Studios. They will play standards and original compositions.

Two shows on Friday, December 9 highlight the extraordinary abilities of Melbourne’s creative women jazz artists.

In the Jazz Lab, Kennedy Snow featuring Nina Ferro presents originals from the recently released debut album Follow, the result of a longtime collaboration between Nina (recently returned from a decade residency in London) and Kennedy Snow (aka drummer Sonja Horbelt). Follow encompasses such styles as Neo-Soul, R&B, jazz and heart stopping ballads. They will also debut some new tunes, and play Ferro originals and  classic R&B interpretations. The line-up will include long-time collaborators Kellie Santin (saxes) and Kim May (bass) with special guest Steve Sedergreen on piano and keys.

And in a special treat next door certain to set up a most difficult choice for patrons, the festival and Melbourne Jazz Co-operative co-present a solo piano double bill featuring friends and colleagues Nat Bartsch and Andrea Keller. These two extraordinary women pianists, composers and improvisers will share their unique sounds and distinctive work in a concert not be be missed.

And on Saturday, December 10, setting up another festival clash of competing drawcards, acclaimed Brisbane vocalist Kristin Berardi and The Balloons present work from her latest Bell Award winning album Where or When in the Jazz Lab. Appearing with Kristin are formidable Australian musicians on this ABC record release Julien Wilson (sax), James Sherlock (guitar), Steve Newcomb (piano) and Sam Anning (bass).

In the Jazz Room, MJC co-presents the composer Cheryl Durongpisitkul on saxophone, clarinet and flute in her octet with Felix Watson (trumpet), James Macaulay (trombone), Marcos Villalta (guitar), Lincoln Mckenzie (guitar), Harry Cook (piano), Stephen Hornby (double bass) and Leo Kavanagh (drums). Durongpisitkul has spent the past year writing a cohesive, narrative based piece, heavily influenced by Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Cheryl’s approach to music making is described as adventurous, quirky, beautiful and at times chaotic, ranging from contemporary jazz to third stream.

The festival closes on Sunday, December 11 with Spirograph Studies led by bassist Tamara Murphy, winner of the inaugural Young Elder of Jazz Commission for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Spirograph Studies takes a detailed, textural approach to improvised music. Inventors of the ‘gromp’, this strong collection of music-makers each bring their unique voice to the stage in a collaborative approach featuring Luke Howard (piano), Fran Swinn (guitar) and James McLean (drums).

For full program details visit the MWIJF website and Bennetts Lane.

The Melbourne Women’s International Jazz festival gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from major sponsors APRA AMCOS, Fraser Place Melbourne, The Canada Council for the Arts, Melbourne Jazz Co-operative and Brolly Design.