Ned Heckling The Band – ARIAs & Australian Jazz

Shorter column this week – Hey! Don’t act so pleased! Anyway, after a one-week hiatus thanks to the glory of a severe overload of university work I’m back, and surprisingly there is nothing on my mind this week that provokes anger or debate.

So, seeing as this is like an occurrence of aurora borealis – described by one Cosmo Kramer as “a miracle of nature that exists for a brief period” I thought in celebration I’d keep it simple and write a short blurb on Australian jazz and a great Australian jazz album.

Whether you knew it or not, the 2009 ARIA Award’s are fast approaching, with the ceremony to be held at Acer Arena on Thursday, November 26. It is on this night that for the 23rd time the Australian jazz community will honour the winner of the ‘Best Jazz Album’ award. This year sees another batch of five impressive nominations. They are as follows:

Dale Barlow, George Coleman Jr, Mark Fitzgibbon, Sam AnningTreat Me Gently

Kate Cebrano/Mark IshamBittersweet

Katie NoonanBlackbird

Mark Isaacs Resurgence BandTell It Like It Is

Michelle NicolleThe Loveliest Night

    Five strong albums suggest that Australian jazz – whilst not at the forefront of the international jazz scene – is kickin’ on nicely. Moreover, within Sydney organisations such as the Jazzgroove Association, which is “an artist-led and focused non-profit Association committed to presenting and raising the profile of Jazzgroove music – where jazz meets everything else – in Australia through weekly performances at Sydney’s Excelsior Hotel, and bi-monthly CD launches at the Basement”, and the Jazz Action Society, which is a “non-profit organisation with a mission to promote Australian Jazz and Jazz in Australia” help to keep jazz’s popularity at a steady, if not spectacular level.

    One jazz organisation that I find incredibly helpful and insightful is the Sydney Improvised Music Association, or SIMA. SIMA is “Australia’s leading contemporary jazz organisation” and offers a comprehensive database of CD, book and gig reviews as well as regularly updated news and a fantastic schedule of upcoming gigs. I use it, and so should you.

    Anyway, I swore I’d keep this short, so back to the ARIA Awards. Last year, the winner of the prestigious ‘Best Jazz Album’ was Andrea Keller’s Footprints. Released on November 17, 2007, the album consists of twelve solo piano tracks all composed by Wayne Shorter and arranged by Keller. If this album tells you anything, it is that regardless of what you might think of the popularity of jazz within Australia, the level of talent is still impressive.

    In what is Keller’s first recording without the backing of a band, she uses the opportunity to demonstrate the many variations of tone colour that can be achieved through merely a piano and the occasional appearance of a keyboard. Her delicate performances take you on a ride where there is more beauty than you can shake a stick at. Her improvisations, particularly within Ana Maria sound as if they were penned after months of cerebral exercise, and her interpretation of Shorter’s melodies allow them to be transported beyond the realms of performance and into that of pure music with standout tracks include Go, Lost, and the appropriately named Chaos. The ARIA’s market themselves as a recognition of excellence in each category. This album proves such a sentiment correct, as Keller’s success is well deserved.

    Upcoming Jazz Events

    Thursday 22nd October, 9:00pm

    Ladies of Jazz feat. Christine Anu + Grace Knight + Paulini + Monica Trapaga @ The Basement.

    Gen. Admission tix $38 (plus booking fee)/Dinner & Show Tix $84.80 per person @ & (612) 9251 2797 (Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:30pm)

    Friday 23rd October, 9:30pm

    Afro Cuban Sessions feat. Armandito & The Cuban Team @ The Basement.

    Gen. Admission tix $25 (plus booking fee)/Dinner & Show Tix $73.80 per person @ & (612) 9251 2797 (Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:30pm)

    Friday 23rd October, 8:30pm – 11:00pm

    Bernie McGann Trio @ The Sound Lounge.

    Tix $12/$14/$18 @ The Sound Lounge & 9351 7940.

    Saturday 24th October, 8:30pm – 11:00pm

    The Catholics – CD Launch – Inter Vivos @ The Sound Lounge.

    Tix $15/$20 @ The Sound Lounge & 9351 7940.

    Every Friday Night @ 8:00pm

    Marsala @ Waverly Bowling Club.

    Free entrance! Free car parking for 100 cars!

    Tuesday 10th November, 7:30pm

    Robert Green’s Cabaret Hour w/ Alexander Sussman @ Bar Me.

    Tix $10.00 @ The door; Doors open @ 7:00pm. For More info click here.

    Got a gig to advertise? Email details to

    Must Read