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Barney McAll

Report: Greg Phillips. Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Members of the Australian jazz community convened last night in Melbourne to celebrate the presentation of the 16th annual Australian Jazz Bell Awards, held at Bird’s Basement. Named after the late Australian jazz pioneer, Graeme Bell, AO, “The Bells” were established in 2003 to acknowledge excellence in the performance, creativity, recording and presentation of Jazz in Australia.

A wonderful house band consisting of Phil Turcio on piano, Kim May on bass, and Darren Farrugia on drums provided a top shelf backdrop to the clattering of cutlery and pre-award chatter before the night’s MC, 3PBS Program Manager Owen McKern took to the stage to announce the first award. Acclaimed pianist composer Barney McAll received the first nod of the evening, winning Best Australian Jazz Ensemble. In accepting the award, Barney spoke about the “deep, dark work” all musicians have to do to keep making music. Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album went to Andrea Keller, taking her career Bell Award tally to six. Jazz vocalist Kayleigh Pincott, who was nominated for two awards for her album Solace performed a tune prior to the announcement of Young Australian Jazz Artist of the year, which was won by New York-based Evan Harris.

In a night dominated by Barney McAll, he returned the stage to accept two more awards, Best Australian Instrumental Jazz Album and Best Produced Album for his record Hearing the Blood. Expanding upon the ‘deep, dark work’ he spoke of earlier, McAll told of how he had seven vials of blood extracted from himself for use in the design of his album cover. Now there’s dedication to his art!

Mat Jodrell (trumpet) and Carl Mackey (Sax) of respected quintet Speedball accepted their award for Best Australian Jazz Song (Judgement Day), then joined the house band for an inspiring performance. Noted businessman and political power broker Michael Kroger had the honour of introducing this year’s Australian Jazz Bell Awards Hall of Fame inductee, the much loved Bob Sedergreen. The amiable Sedergreen told the audience that “Charts were for Captain Cook and scales are to weigh yourself”, suggesting that more than the music, the highlight of his career in Australian jazz has been the long standing friendships he has developed over the years. Bob also paid tribute to his wife of 50 years, Rae and their three children Mal, Steve and Tammy. Wrapping up his heartfelt speech Bob quoted an old blue song to describe what he does, “I’m not sure what jazz is but I’m willing to learn… and that’s sums me up to a tee. I am still willing to learn.”

The 2018 winners are:
Best Australian Jazz Ensemble of the year, presented by Monash University – Barney McAll
Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album, presented by TarraWarra Winery Estate – Andrea Keller ‘Still Night: Music in Poetry’
Young Australian Jazz Artist of the year, presented by Fender Katsalidis Architects – Evan Harris
Best Australian Instrumental Jazz Album, presented by Brand Partners Commercial Lawyers – Barney McAll, ‘Hearing the blood’
Best Australian Jazz Song of the year, presented by APRA/AMCOS – Speedball ‘ Judgement Day’
Best Produced Album, presented by ALFi records – Barney McAll ‘ Hearing the blood’
Pianist Bob Sedergreen was inducted into Graeme Bell Hall of Fame this year.

Carl Mackey- Speedball
Barney McAll
Owen McKern 3PBS
Bob Sedergreen with Michael Kroger
Bob Sedergreen
Bob Sedergreen


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