THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Stirring the blood
Happy clapping and a bit of dancing in the aisles
“I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes ...” Bill Nighy was singing about Christmas, in that classic romcom, Love Actually. But he might just as well have been singing about a jazz concert, any jazz concert. “… and so the feeling grows,” Bill croons on in his slightly goofy but touching style. If you have ever attended the Kettering Jazz in July concerts you might have seen that phenomenon in action. People start to move their shoulders around a bit – and before you know it some brave soul is up on his or her feet and dancing. It’s catching. Up gets someone else, and soon everyone is enjoying the music in their own special way. And that’s the way the Cygnet Jazz Collective likes it. Collins Encyclopedia of Music says that when it comes to jazz, “The music should be enjoyed for its rhythm uplift and for the inventiveness and ingenuity of the improvisations.” Jazz is marked by improvisations, and according to Collins, is “inspired by the uplift of intensely rhythmic playing, and by an individual approach to instrumental and vocal tone and to rhythmic articulation.”
Same venue, change of styles
While there are several classical music concerts held at Kettering throughout the year, Jazz in July is a one-off, and takes a very different form. These jazz concerts consist of two 40-minute segments, with an interval for afternoon tea in between while the musicians are given a bit of a rest. It’s also a chance for the audience to chat to them, and put in any special requests for the second half of the program. It’s hard to pin down jazz musicians on a program as such, as it will often be changed at the whim of the band members – or at the request of audience members who have a favourite they’d like to hear. In fact, unpredictability is about the one predictable thing about a jazz concert. One blogger describes jazz like this: “Jazz is one of America’s most distinctive contributions to global culture. The origins of the music are fairly well understood. It arose from the songs and field hollers of plantation slaves and evolved over the years under the influence of church hymns, Creole music, the music of brass bands, and traditional Western harmony.” Well, there wasn’t much opportunity for formal programming on those plantations. They went, like a classic jazz concert of today, where the whim took them.
Who makes the music?
This year the group consists of Malcolm Martin on trumpet and vocals, Brad Madigan on guitar and vocals, Danny Healy on reeds, Derek Capewell on bass and Paul Svensen on drums. Malcolm Martin was one of the founders of the Cygnet Jazz Collective. Originally from Chicago, where he played trumpet on the blues scene, Malcolm has lived in Australia for over fifteen years. Brad Madigan is the group’s regular guitarist. He’s been a local for several years now, but he played for over thirty years around Sydney, in everything from small groups to big bands. Danny Healy describes himself as “a nomadic multi-woodwind instrumentalist”. For the last ten years he’s mostly lived abroad, working as a musician in Shanghai and touring in the UK. He’s a jazz saxophone, clarinet and flute player, with a recent interest in Gypsy and Trad Jazz, liking the melodic, interactive nature of that music. He admits the time he dedicates to perfecting his work is a bit over the top. The Kettering audience will see for themselves how exceedingly well that’s paid off at the concert! Derek Capewell is one of Australia’s most experienced and well-respected jazz bass players. He’s played alongside all Australia’s top jazz musicians and many overseas greats as well. Derek’s versatility is such that he has also performed in classical orchestras and in studio and show bands, and his acoustic and electric bass playing has featured on more than thirty albums. And keeping the rhythm going on percussion will be Paul Svenson.
So don’t ask
“Man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know,” said one of its most famous sons, Louis Armstrong. If you do know what it is, and if you’ve been a regular at the Jazz in July special, you won’t need convincing. If you don’t know, but would like to, don’t be intimidated by Satchmo. Be there for a great treat. The concert is at the Kettering Hall, Sunday July 22nd, starting at 2pm and going till around 4.30pm. There will be wine available, and afternoon tea. Tickets are only $10 each at the door. Jazz in July is supported by the Lions Club of Kingborough, in conjunction with the Channel Regional Arts Group.
Naidoc week: celebrations
NAIDOC week, although it has been and gone, is a focal point and opportunity to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community each year. This year’s NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ honoured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as active and significant role models at the community, local, state and national levels. In Hobart, the NAIDOC Forum, ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ was a partnership between the City of Hobart and Reconciliation Tasmania, held on Thursday 12th July at the University of Tasmania (Art School) in Hunter Street, Hobart. The forum, chaired by Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania, featured inspiring Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women from across Tasmania. The Governor was a gracious and dignified chair of this important forum of women who were drawn from a diverse range of achievements and interests. Panellists Aunty Patsy Cameron, Clair Andersen, Alderman Helen Burnet, Fiona Hughes, Yvette Breytenbach and Marta Hodul Lenton were asked to inform us of their strongest female influences. They each had two minutes to talk about an Aboriginal woman who had inspired them. The panellists said that they were inspired by so many women, it was hard to pin down just one or two.
Strong, resilient women
Esteemed panel member Aunty Patsy Cameron, who grew up on Flinders Island, traces her Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage through her mother’s line to three ancestral grandmothers. For over 40 years Patsy has been a passionate champion for Aboriginal education and the promotion of cultural heritage and traditional practice. She was an inaugural member of the Flinders Island Aboriginal Community Association and the National Aboriginal Education Committee, a member of the National Museum of Australia Aboriginal Advisory Committee, founder of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee and a member of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area Advisory Committee. She is also co-chair of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery Aboriginal Reference Group, co-chair of the Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance and a member of the Reconciliation Tasmania board. Patsy’s commitment to reconciliation is widely known and underpins her work across the wider Tasmanian community.
Alderman Helen Burnet, originally from Adelaide, has been a councillor on Hobart City Council for 13 years and has previously served as Deputy Lord Mayor. As chairperson of the Migrant Resource Centre, Tasmania, Helen is involved with a large number of
Clair Andersen has Yanuwa and Gunggalida clan connections in the Gulf country of Northern Australia. She began her education in the Northern Territory before continuing schooling in Tasmania, where she completed high school and a Bachelor of Education at UTAS. Clair has been involved in Aboriginal education for more than 30 years and was Director of the Riawunna Centre at UTAS for seven years. Clair’s research interests are in improving education and training pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and the development of appropriate learning resources. Her current work focuses on the development of cultural understandings as a core graduate attribute through the inclusion of Australia’s First Nations People content within teaching programs at UTAS.
Yvette Breytenbach is an architect who grew up and was educated in South Africa. Her practice is known for a range of arts, educational, residential, university and social housing projects in Tasmania with an emphasis on socially and environmentally sustainable design.
Marta Hodul Lenton, coordinator of the Recognise Campaign, is currently a Campaigns and Research Officer at Unions Tasmania, the peak body for trade unions representing the interests of working Tasmanians. Prior to joining Unions Tasmania, Marta coordinated the Tasmanian campaign for constitutional reform to recognise Australia’s First Peoples and remove racial discrimination from our nation’s
Fiona Hughes is a pakana (Aboriginal) woman, born in Burnie and raised and educated between Burnie and Cape Barren Island. Fiona has spent her working life advocating for and assisting Aboriginal Tasmanians, through her employment with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation, Housing Tasmania, Colony 47 and Adult Education. Fiona has a passion for improved educational and employment outcomes for all Tasmanian Aboriginal people across all Tasmanian Aboriginal communities. Fiona is also committed to helping Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Tasmanians to understand Aboriginal communities and their issues. Fiona is co-chair of Reconciliation Tasmania and hopes to play a part in bringing Tasmanian Aboriginal culture to a better understanding of all Tasmanians. If you are interested in the work of Reconciliation Tasmanian, you can find out more on their website: www.rectas.com.au
A new view
Two broadcasters I especially enjoy listening to, are Richard Fidler and Stan Grant. Put the two together and you get a very interesting interview and a new view of the history of Australia.
Stan Grant, who has written the foreword to the book by historian Paul Irish, Hidden in Plain View, discovered details of his own great-great-grandfather, Frank Foster, as a direct result of Irish’s work. “Foster, born in 1870 and living his early life in the rough atmosphere of the Circular Quay boatshed, was the grandson of people who saw the British arrive at Sydney Cove — or Warrane, as they knew it. Foster was neither unique nor unusual,” Grant writes, “and his descendants and those of many like him have been in Sydney all along – here in this massive metropolis hidden in plain view”.
In 2017, Stephen Fitzpatrick* wrote about three books which bear out that complex indigenous societies existed before the arrival of white settlers. He wrote, “Family histories have become the hottest thing in recent years – eclipsed in popularity in the online space only by gardening and pornography, or so it’s said – but they carry a special weight for Indigenous Australia. There they’re not just a hobby. They’re about
Bruce Pascoe, an Indigenous Victorian, was another interviewed on Richard Fidler’s ABC Radio program, Conversations.# He is also featured in Stephen Fitzpatrick’s article, with his award-winning book Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident?
The story he told really amazed me – I had to listen again to the the program and then get the book from the library to read for myself. Even though I was not brought up with the Australian history curriculum I had always thought that the stories of ‘hunter gatherer and nomads’, portrayed the truth. It could not be further from it.
Bruce Pascoe told about how he “combed early journals and assembled other evidence to demonstrate that pre-colonial Australia was not in fact peopled by opportunistic hunter-gatherers – the popular image of an Aborigine standing on one leg, spear in hand, waiting for a kangaroo to hop by – but was an extensively farmed and tightly managed ecosystem created over thousands of years by disparate but
He documents “sophisticated fish traps and other systems of animal management including nets the quality of anything then able to be produced in Europe, terraced agriculture, permanent built villages, fabricated dams, and grains produced from domesticated grasses and used to bake bread 15,000 years in advance of any such thing produced in the Middle East.” He quoted from explorer Sturt’s diary of them “being saved from starvation and being offered a newly built house, roasted duck and some cake”. (Dark Emu, page 75).
This year, the Bangarra Dance Theatre has produced a work titled “Dark Emu”, inspired by the book, which is reported to be beautiful to look at but tragic in its theme. It tells in dance of the achievements in farming, fishing and land management of Australia’s Indigenous people and how it was ignored and dismissed by the colonial settlers. It is full of insights into what Australian explorers recorded about the lives of the people who already lived here, as well as knowledge passed down through
Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a fresh look at Australia’s past is required.
The third book mentioned is by Hobart-based historian Nick Brodie “who achieves stunning scholarship in The Vandemonian War. Brodie goes to the archival record, in this case official communications between London, Hobart and various districts and front lines in Van Diemen’s Land. He finds that the “settling” of the island involved far more than mere skirmishes between European-born farmers and Aboriginal people. It was “no unofficial frontier conflict [but] was an orchestrated invasion prosecuted by an empire”.
Stephen Fitzpatrick finished his article about these three books with, “And so the truth-telling must go on. As a nation, we will get this right only when we fully acknowledge what happened, both good and bad.”
Having written the above I turned on ABC’s The Drum (Mon 9th July) to see Dark Emu’s author featured. Serendipity?
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