The book was formally launched by Bruce Johnson. Bruce was instrumental in setting up the AJA and authored the definitive “Oxford companion to Australian Jazz” (1987) as well as several other learned works. Bruce surprised me with some comments on the importance of Australian jazz in the world context. Apparently, a European encyclopaedia has recently claimed Australia is second only to the US in its importance in international jazz history. Along similar lines, Bruce claimed that jazz is the major Australian cultural export (perhaps only matched by film from the 70s). More facts: Australia held the first ever jazz festival in Sydney, and the Australian Jazz festival is the oldest continuous surviving jazz festival in the world. Impressive.
The whole show was introduced by Matthew Davies, Senior Curator of Recorded Sound at the NFSA. Here’s some news on the AJA. The Australian Jazz Archive now holds over 12,500 items. The cataloguing’s not up to date, but how’s that different from any other cultural institution? And this is just the first amongst equals of jazz archives in Australia, so our jazz history is in good hands.