The old cliché that Canberra hasn’t got any soul has a new response – it has plenty of jazz instead. A new exhibition of images by Brian Stewart documents the thriving local jazz scene at one of its more popular venues – The Gods Café and Bar at the ANU.
The exhibition is timed to coincide with national coverage of the Canberra jazz scene in Extempore – a journal of arts and writing that is about, inspired by and responding to jazz and improvised music. Issue 5, just released, includes “Jazz at The Gods” in word and image.
It features an essay by renowned poet and jazz enthusiast (and well-known Canberran) Geoff Page about the monthly series of “Jazz at The Gods” concerts he organises, titled “How to Shut Up and Listen — or, Let a Thousand Venues Bloom”.
Geoff’s essay is accompanied by a portfolio of Brian Stewart’s black and white images – the same as in the exhibition – showing local and national musicians in action at The Gods.
The images demonstrate what a good listening venue Jazz at The Gods is. It attracts big name jazz artists, who respond with quality and intense performances. Local musicians are also featured. The musicians portrayed in the images include Australia’s pre-eminent jazz keyboard player – Mike Nock – together with leading exponents of other instruments, including trombonist James Greening; trumpeter Warwick Alder; and saxophonist Mark Ginsburg. Several former Canberra musicians who have made it big on the national stage are also featured: vocalist Gian Slater – who was a finalist at the recent 2010 Freedman Jazz Fellowship finals at the Sydney Opera House Studio – as well as saxophonist Andrew Robson.
The local jazz scene is booming at the moment. Great kids coming out of the school of music. They need places to play and people to listen to them. We should support the scene to ensure that it stays that way, and that means supporting both the musicians and the venues. And of course the photographers.