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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1892..


International Jazz Day

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.44): Last Monday, 30 April was International Jazz Day. It was established last year by UNESCO to raise awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation amongst people. UNESCO's director-general, Irina Bokova, says in relation to International Jazz Day:

From its roots in slavery, this music has raised a passionate voice against all forms of oppression. It speaks a language of freedom that is meaningful to all cultures.

How does this relate to Canberra? Canberra has a vibrant jazz community, anchored in an educational program at the ANU School of Music and with a long history stretching back to Canberra's earliest days. The Canberra City Band, for example, while not playing jazz in the strict sense, embraces the jazz idiom and is Australia's oldest community concert band, established in 1925.

Many of Canberra's jazz musicians have gone on to enjoy a successful international career. Bass player Brendan Clarke, a graduate of the ANU School of Music, is an example. Born and bred in Canberra, Brendan is much sought after for jazz band rhythm sections and is featured on many jazz recordings. Another is cabaret and jazz singer and pianist Craig Schneider, who performed Rhapsody in Blue for his graduation recital at the School of Music, accompanied by no less than the Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. The RMC band itself is a fine example of our city's jazz heritage. The band is jealously guarded by the people of Canberra as its own because of its professionalism, versatility and accessibility. It celebrated its centenary just last year and this year released a double CD album to showcase that versatility.

The Canberra Jazz Club is another longstanding Canberra institution. It is very active in promoting jazz, especially local jazz. Its president, Margaret Moriarty, is a Canberra treasure and has led the society for many years. Indeed, the Canberra Jazz Club's events program regularly features well-known national and international jazz musicians who have their roots in Canberra, like sax player Niels Rosendahl, keyboardist Luke Sweeting, and drummer Mark Sutton.

My senior adviser would not forgive me if I did not mention bass player Eric Ajaye, an import from the United States but now claimed as a Canberran. Eric is a member of the jazz faculty at the School of Music. Apart from being a true gentleman in every sense, Eric works very hard to develop and promote young musicians. Eric has worked with brilliant pianist Michael Azzopardi, who recently returned from an extended stay in Europe, and the very fine drummer Chris Thwaite, both local artists. He established and leads the Commercial Band ensemble, made up of many students from the School of Music.

But Eric Ajaye is not the only member of the jazz faculty. Canberra is blessed with many other teachers and musicians with international careers—people like trumpeter


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