Obit of the Day: “The Father of Australian Jazz”
When the Bee Gees were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame in 1997, they shared the stage with an 82 year-old man who was setting the standard for Australian jazz 20 years before their group was formed.
Graeme Bell was a classically trained pianist who found himself becoming a star as a bandleader and composer of jazz, Dixieland, and ragtime. He put together Australia’s first “big band,” the Australian Jazz Band, which was the first from the country to tour Europe. Bell would also lead the first Western jazz band into China.
Bell was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1978. To gauge the influence Bell had on Australian jazz, you needn’t look further than the Australian Jazz Awards which hand out “Bells” to the winners.
Graeme Bell who would continue to perform at the age of 90, died at the age of 97.
(Graeme Bell - A Compilation of His Recordings, 1947-2007 is copyright Newmarket Music, 2008.)