History of Jazz in Australia
1925-89 [Soundabout Australia] 2CDs
With 38 tracks and a 59-page booklet, it is hard to go past this set as the best available compact history of OzJazz. The project's guiding light was Ron Wills, a prominent figure in the Oz recording industry for almost 50 years. Some of the early tracks come courtesy of his 78-rpm collection, which is now in the National Film and Sound Archive.
At the Varsity Drag
The Australian Jazz Quintet
LP 1956 [Bethlehem]; CD 2000 [Rhino]
Taking a cool cue from the Modern Jazz Quartet, the stars here are certainly pianist Bryce Rohde and Errol Buddle on tenor/bassoon. Dick Healy's flute and Jack Brokensha's vibes, however, add a coolly collegiate edge. The band was successful in the USA, appearing on television and touring with both Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan.
Jazz for Beach-Niks
The Australian All-Stars
LP 1959 [Bethlehem]; CD 2013 [Solid Records]
Long before instrumental surf music hit big these cool cats knocked out the pipelining 'Ka-Link'. No doubt Bethlehem's whole beachie marketing manoeuvre gave more than a few people ideas. Included in the band is OzJazz legend Don Burrows doing his clarinet/flute thing and smokin' tenor Dave Rutledge. Cowabunga baby!
The Famous PIX Sessions
1961-62 [Australian Jazz Reissues] 2CDs
Starting life as mail-order records from PIX magazine, this digitally restored set contains the five original 10" LPs. Featured are Ray Price & His Port Jackson Jazz Band, Graeme Bell & His Original Jazz Band and a 'PIX All Stars' lineup with the Barnard brothers, Bob and Len. Absolute classic trad and swing from some of Australia's finest.
The Charlie Munro Quartet
LP 1967 [Philips]; CD 2008 [Votary]
Eastern mysticism meets OzJazz on this brilliant, but sadly forgotten gem. This album by multi-instrumentalist/composer Munro has been favourably compared to Pharaoh Sanders free jazz classic Karma. It also features trombonist Bob McIvor and the Neville Whitehead/Mark Bowden rhythm section. Bowden also does some outasite vibing.
Bonfa Burrows Brazil
Don Burrows & Luiz Bonfá (w/ George Golla)
LP 1978 [Cherry Pie]; CD 1999 [Bonfa's Productions]
Latin jazz with an Oz edge, this record teams the legendary Australian clarinettist Don Burrows with Brazilian guitarist/vocalist Luiz Bonfá. As an added bonus, OzJazz guitar supremo George Golla puts in some acoustic and electric touches. While the bossa nova craze had seen better days, this is still a fine example of this type of jazz.
Wizards of OZ
The record that inspired many a young OzJazz musician to take on the world, Soundtrack features a legendary quartet consisting of tenor Dale Barlow, pianist Paul Grabowsky and the Lloyd Swanton/Tony Buck rhythm section now famous for their work with The Necks. Loaded with original compositions, this was the dawning of a new era.
Mark Simmonds Freeboppers
Often cited as influential by OzJazz musicians, Fire was the first major success for Sydney jazz specialist record store Birdland's own label. Simmonds is a barnburner on the sax, while trumpeter Scott Tinkler's inventiveness hints at things to come. Overall, there are some great grooves and memorable melodies not to be missed.
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Top 100 (Pre-1980)
Next 100 (Pre-1980)
Top 100 (Post-1980)
The Swing Era
Post-War Big Bands
West Coast Cool
More Hard Bop
The Explosive 60s
The Creative 70s
Twists & Turns
The ECM Sound
Keys to Jazz
Keep on Singin'