We all know that jazz in Australia is alive and well! Great musos all over the country, lots of talented youngsters graduating from colleges and universities every year, clubs, pubs, festivals…
But what about our jazz history? The great post-war jazz blooming of the Bells, Graeme and Roger, Ade, Graeme Coyle, Bob Barnard, and more. Some of the great gigs of all time were recorded on tape and acetate, and you know what happens to them over time: they disintegrate.
A bunch of concerned jazz lovers got together in 1996 and established the Victorian Jazz Archive in a bid to preserve Australia’s jazz heritage, at a time when historic recordings on media such as tape and acetate were in danger of being lost forever due to deterioration. Today, now known as the Australian Jazz Museum, we continue to collect, archive and share great Australian Jazz. We are a fully-accredited museum, and are totally self-supporting and run entirely by volunteers. In addition to maintaining our constantly-growing music/print/photo/instrument collection, we provide research support to scholars and music presenters, and host improvisation workshops for aspiring jazz musicians. Our little shop stocks over 300 different jazz CDs and is open to the public.
While we regularly organise live jazz concerts for fund-raising purposes and to entertain tour groups, we see our role more as augmenting that of the bands, clubs and entrepreneurs who actively provide live jazz music to the public. We preserve heritage, provide an archive for contemporary recorded jazz, and help to nurture the jazz musicians of the future. The Museum includes a space which can be put to use for rehearsals, and is available free-of-charge to jazz bands.
Membership dues play an important part in covering our operating expenses. Membership costs only $50/year. Members receive a free CD of their choice from our own series of CDs of rare jazz recordings; 10% off any CD, DVD or book from our bookshop; our excellent quarterly magazine; and use of our Members’ library. If you’re a musician doing regular gigs, Musician membership is only $25/year, and we will list your gigs on our Events web page.
In addition to recordings by Australian artists we also have a large collection of overseas-recorded jazz on 78 RPM disks, vinyl and CD.
We always welcome new donations, as they present continued opportunities for us to preserve and share what might be rare examples of Australia’s Jazz heritage. And we’re always happy to get new volunteers.
Please visit our website: www.ajm.org.au. We would like to welcome you in person if you’re in the area during our open days, Tuesday and Friday 10AM to 3PM. You can contact us during these hours on 03 9800 5535.
Article by Melvyn Forbes, Australian Jazz Museum