The Australian Suite – Tony Barnard’s International Jazz Collective

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There has always been a great storytelling tradition in Australia – spinning a yarn, telling tall tales and the like, and that is my intention with this suite.

I have always loved a good tune, something with lots of melody and some nice chord changes, something that tells a story, and that’s what these songs are. There’s nothing too flashy or overtly clever about the compositions, they’re just tunes, and are intended as vehicles for telling stories through improvisation as well as text. I could not have been luckier than to have such brilliant musicians and storytellers who interpreted my songs so well and with such consummate skill. I am delighted with the outcome. All the musicians are my very good friends. Some of us go way back to the very beginnings of our careers, which made recording with them a lot of fun.

These recordings were done in four sessions, two in London and two in Sydney. I wanted to have the best of the best in both countries to help bring this project to fruition. The majority of these pieces were composed in London as I was thinking about my home in Australia. They’re not meant to be jingoistic or anything like that (I have a Euro Suite under construction), I’m merely trying to capture some moods and impressions of Australia. The songs are a very eclectic mix of styles, ranging from straight-ahead swinging jazz, a touch of bebop, ballads, a bit of humour and some very evocative pieces that I find hard to pigeonhole as to style.

The international jazz collective
The UK Musos: Since I have been in the UK I have been very fortunate to work with hundreds of hugely accomplished musicians, including the fabulously talented Pete Long, who, among his other amazing achievements, is the musical director of the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, of which I have been a member for some seven years. I also have the rest of the incredible rhythm section from the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra: Mark Fletcher on drums , Jim Watson on piano and Steve Pearce on bass. Their playing credits are no less than astonishing. Roger Beaujolais is one of, if not the, best vibes player in the UK and Europe. I met and worked with him when I first arrived in the UK and we have been mates ever since. Between them they have played with absolutely everybody: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, Michel LeGrand, John Scofield, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Sting etc. The list is literally too long to print in a CD booklet.

The Aussie Musos (and one ex-pat Yank): I am also privileged to have some of the finest Aussie musicians on this CD. George Golla has always been one of my heroes and is an absolute legend of Australian music, appearing on hundreds of recordings for just about everything. Bob Barnard (my father) has been an international jazz star for some sixty years. James Morrison, an amazingly talented multi-instrumentalist, has played with everybody on the planet it seems, and is regarded very highly everywhere. On my first gig with him, sometime in the early 1980s, he was playing double bass!! Alan Davey, Warwick Alder and Dan Barnett have always been fabulous musicians and performers, and my good friends from the moment I met them; we’ve done countless gigs together. Multi-instrumentalist Glenn Henrich originally hails from the USA, but has been in Oz for many years. He’s a wonderfully talented man and is also a friend of long standing. Dave Pudney is the bass player of choice not just for me, but everyone, and rightly so. My brother Adam is one of the busiest and most versatile drummers in Sydney, able to play any style of music with consummate ease. Chris Frazier is another great Sydney player and old mate. All of them, without exception, are brilliant and sensitive musicians, and all have equally astounding lists of playing credits to their names, also far too long to list here.

I enjoyed writing and recording this music very much! So stop reading this, fill a glass with something nice, put the CDs on, sit back, and enjoy the storytelling!

Tony Barnard 2013