Tag Archives: John McBeath

Vale John McBeath

Gerry Koster, John McBeath

Gerry Koster with John McBeath in June 2014 during the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Vale John McBeath

Today at 2pm in Adelaide, family and close friends will farewell John McBeath, who many in the jazz community will know through his critiques of major festivals and the regular publication of his album reviews in The Australian.

Not everyone was happy with what John wrote — that’s surely inevitable and appropriate for a music critic. But no one doubted his commitment to the task — not an easy one — of using words, in most cases too few words, to convey thoughts about music.

I don’t think criticisms of the critic worried John all that much. I can vividly recall a refrain of his, when assessing festival programs, that too many of the same old artists were appearing in the line-ups. He had a point, although budget constraints always make programming difficult.

John will be missed not only as a scribe, but by those who regularly engaged him in discussions on inspiring artists and performances in the broad church loosely described as jazz, whether well known or obscure. One person in particular who will feel that loss is his good friend Gerry Koster, pictured above with John in a happy moment before a Melbourne International Jazz Festival concert  in June 2014. I like that picture because it captures a little of the comradeship that exists among the small group of media people who follow the local jazz scene.

John will also be missed at Wangaratta when he and his wife, Mary, were able to share brief breaks over a hasty meal amid the bustle of the jazz festival. At those times the topics of conversation were not limited to the music.

Our love and thoughts are with Mary and family at this difficult time.

Martin Jackson of the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative has posted these details of John’s life and work:

“John McBeath, former jazz critic for The Australian and Adelaide’s The Advertiser newspapers (2003-2017) and Australian Jazz Award judge, passed away in Adelaide last night [12 March] after an extended illness. For over 25 years John had been a freelance writer, publishing a wide variety of genres: jazz reviews, news items, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews for The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, the Melbourne Herald Sun, several regional newspapers and airline inflight magazines.

“He’s won national prizes for jazz reviews and travel writing, and written a memoir book, What Westerners Have For Breakfast (2013), about the five years he spent living in Goa, India, in the 1980s.

“In addition to living in India, he also spent time living in other parts of Australia (managing community radio stations in Cairns, 1990-1993, and Alice Springs,1993-1997), before moving to Adelaide in 1997. Due to ill-health he resigned from his role as jazz critic at The Australian around August last year (being replaced by Eric Myers).”

John’s funeral will be held in Adelaide today — Friday, 16 March, 2018 — in The White Lady Funerals Chapel at 209 Anzac Highway, Plympton, commencing at 2pm. After the service,  a wake in his honour will be held at ‘The Wheaty’ in Thebarton, from 4pm. Small donations to the Cancer Council are suggested in lieu of flowers.



Gerry Koster and John McBeath

Gerry Koster and John McBeath

Lots of faces keep turning up at Melbourne International Jazz Festival concerts. Some are fans who can’t resist the live music on offer, others are involved in the “jazz scene” in some way.

The faces above, snapped between sets at the Melbourne Recital Centre, are those of Gerry Koster of the ABC’s Jazz Up Late program and John McBeath, who reviews the festival for The Australian each year.

Do they agree on the standout gigs of the festival? Are they admirers of Livio Minafra or Chris Dave and The Drumhedz, or is a late-night jam with The Grid more to their tastes? Well, to find out you’ll have to tune in to Gerry’s program and read John’s festival review.

In this case they are about to hear Larry Carlton, but more about that in the next post…



Graeme Bell

Jazz great Graeme Bell addressed last year’s awards via video.


On Thursday next week, May 2, at the Regent Theatre Ballroom, the glitterati of the  national jazz scene will gather for the 2013 Australian Jazz Bell Awards.

Sadly, Graeme Bell, MBE, AO, after whom these awards are named, died last year, so it will be the first ceremony without him. One of the most respected Australian jazz musicians, Bell was unable to attend the 2012 awards night, but addressed the gathering via a video link. This year’s ceremony will feature a special tribute to this talented artist.

Hard-working and talented musicians often struggle to find the money to record and release their work, so the $5000 prizes in each category of these awards can make a huge difference. A Bell Award also looks pretty good on a musician’s CV.

No attempt to rate musicians’ work will satisfy everyone, but the 2013 Bell Awards judging panel is a talented bunch of luminaries, drawn from Australia and overseas, who are closely associated with improvised music. They are Adrian Jackson, Albert Dadon, Gerry Koster, Laurence Donohue-Greene, Martin Jackson, Michael Tortoni, John McBeath and Rob Burke.

The awards recognise and encourage excellence in the performance, creativity, recording and presentation of jazz in Australia.

In case you have not caught up with this year’s final nominees in each category, here they are:

Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album:
Chris McNulty – The Song That Sings You Here
Gian Slater/Jamie Oehlers – The Differences
Michelle Nicolle Quartet – Mancini

Most Original Australian Jazz Album:
Barney McAll – Graft
Yitzhak Yedid- Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio
Marc Hannaford- Sarcophile

Best Australian Contemporary Jazz Album:
Jamie Oehlers Quartet Feat. Ari Hoenig – Smoke And Mirrors
Stephen Magnusson – Magnet
Bernie McGann – Wending

Best Australian Traditional Jazz Album:
Flap! – A Great Day For The Race
Shirazz – Enjoy Responsibly
Zohar’s Nigun – The Four Questions

Best Australian Jazz Song of the Year:
Barney McAll – Nostalgia For The Present
David Ades – Joe The Kid
Mace Francis – Land Speed Record

Best Australian Jazz Ensemble:
David Ades – A Glorious Uncertainty
Jamie Oehlers Quartet Feat. Ari Hoenig – Smoke And Mirrors
Murphy’s Law – Big Creatures & Little Creatures

Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year:
Steve Barry – Steve Barry
Callum G’Froerer – City Speaks
Samuel Pankhurst – Sarcophile

The winner of the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame – in recognition of an outstanding career – will be announced on the night.

The Australian Jazz Bell Awards


Bell Awards winners

Winners of the 2012 Australian Jazz Bell Awards.