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WAAPA jazz plays on

Outside the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth

Greg Corrigan

Outside the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth

Greg Corrigan, ECU Reporter

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The talent bubbling up in the Perth jazz scene was on show in the classic quirky Edith Spiegeltent on Thursday 17 August as jazz students took to the stage to show their mastery.

WAAPA’s The New Standard, was directed by acclaimed jazz musician and winner of the Best Jazz Artist Award in 2014, Tom O’Halloran and performed by an ensemble of jazz students.

In true jazz fashion they put their own twist on pieces by well-known artists such as Stevie Wonder and John Lennon and some classic Broadway show tunes too. This idea of working particular twists into famous songs is something all musicians are fond of, but in the field of jazz, it is done with gusto.

It was one of the first performances by WAAPA jazz students since the program was rocked by the sad news of the death of Associate Professor Graham Wood (aged 45), who lost a long fight with cancer in July.

Wood will long be remembered as a giant of the jazz community, for encouraging alternative approaches and as the founder and owner of The Ellington Jazz Club.

He was a finalist for the 2013 Western Australian of the Year Award, has released three albums, won a Western Australian Music Industry (WAMI) award for Best Jazz act after performing over 100 shows between 2009 and 2010 He has also held key roles in UWA’s School of Music and The Fremantle International Jazz Festival.

Wood’s passing brought many online jazz lovers together through waves of social media posts.

“This is such sad news and a great loss to the Australian Jazz Community,” Jazz Australia wrote on its Facebook page.

“He will be missed by all music lovers in Perth and Australia.” RTRFM 92.1 told their listeners.

He survived a risky 13-hour procedure in 2013 to remove a previous form of cancer from his bile ducts. Then in March this year, just after returning from the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival, Wood was told of his cholangiocarcinoma, a dangerous type of liver cancer, rarely found in those under the age of 60.

Stewart Smith, the associate dean at WAAPA told ABC News of his great musical skill.

“Unlike many other jazz musicians, Graham was also an astute entrepreneur who, against all odds, started not only a successful jazz club in Perth but also a successful International Jazz Festival.”

The musical community of Perth is a large and communal identity that welcomes characters of all backgrounds. The Ellington Jazz Club is known as a place where many WAAPA students get their first taste of performing for jazz loving crowds.

Cass Jayne has been studying at WAAPA for five years now and has taken to using her Jazz Lounge performances as a chance to explore herself as a musician.

“It creates a platform for students to get started with their musical career,” she told ECU Daily.

“Although it is called a ‘jazz club’, it’s not always just jazz. It’s somewhere for musicians to go and watch and listen to music in a nonconforming and inspiring environment.”

Maddy Fuentes, a WAAPA musical theatre student completely agrees.

“It’s a really good venue for artists of all different levels to showcase their work. For example on Tuesday, the third year Musical Theatre students did a fundraising gig there, but sometimes you also get jazz professionals like Libby Hammer performing there.”

You can listen to Tribute to Graham Wood on Jazztrack with Mel Stanley on ABC Jazz and there is also a tribute to him on the WAAPA website.



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WAAPA jazz plays on