Jazz legend Ade Monsbourgh has died at the age of 89.

The multi-instrumentalist is perhaps best known for his work with Graeme Bell’s band with which he twice toured Europe and England in the 1940s.

These tours had a significant impact, as did Monsbourgh’s own playing. Indeed, he was offered a job in the band of English jazz musician Humphrey Lyttleton but turned it down.

Back in Australia, he played in Len Barnard’s band, became a resident guest musician at the Melbourne Jazz Club and later played and recorded with Nevillle Stribling in Lazy Ade’s Late Hour Boys and Adelaide composer Dave Dallwitz.

Wrtiting in the Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz, Bruce Johnson said that Monsbourgh, also known as “The Father” or Lazy Ade”, was “one of the most original and influential jazz musicians Australia has produced”.

“His distinctive approach, both in terms of timing, harmonic line and, especially on alto, his timbre, is central to what is widely, if controversially regarded as the ‘Australian’ or ‘Melbourne’ jazz style.”

Johnson also said that Monsbourgh has been copied “more productively than any other Australian jazz musician, including by overseas musicians”.

In 2003, Monsbourgh won the Graeme Bell Career Achievement Award at the inaugural Australian Jazz Awards.

A fuller appreciation of Ade Monsbourgh’s life and work will appear soon on the Jazz Australia website.

Photo: Courtesy of Peter Cowden, Jazzology.