In the latest in our series on the people behind the country’s major jazz organisations, South Australian Jazz Coordinator Margaret Reines discusses the state of the music in Adelaide.

Margaret is an ideal position to provide an overview – she has been in the job for 17 years.

Jazz Australia: How has the Adelaide scene changed/developed during your years as jazz coordinator.
Margaret Reines: Many more musicians are playing in more venues. When I first started, there were about eight people playing around town. Through rigorous marketing, there are many more people attending concerts, and many more venues have opened during my period of employment. I have been presenting my ARTSA funded (and occasionally Australia Council-funded) concerts at the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel for about 13 years. As the baby-boomers start to retire, we are seeing a large contingent of middle-aged attendees at concerts, as well as the up- and -coming youngsters from the secondary schools as well as as tertiary institutions. I am always on the lookout for new venues. (It is part of my brief.)

JA: Is one style significantly more popular than others?
MR: We have a healthy group of loyal contemporary attendees at concerts, but obviously mainstream jazz and trad will always have its devotees. I try to mix and match my concert styles at the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, and because we present five concerts within one series, presenting an interesting mix leaves the
audience wondering what to expect at the next concert, which I think is in itself a marketing tool. The styles presented are almost exclusively modern and mainsteam, which (in our experience) the funding bodies are more likely to fund (than trad). My Board and I advertise the trad gigs incidentally within the program – through the Jazz Hotline telephone message (08) 8303 3755 and often on our website: jazzcord.htm.

JA: Overall, how healthy is the Adelaide scene at the moment?
MR: I would say very healthy. For 2005, The board received $15,000 from the Australia Council and $38,500 from ARTSA (the latter being for the presentation of concerts mainly involving Adelaide artists). Our board – Jazz SA Inc. will present 10 funded concerts in 2005, and support/promote many others. For example, there is a Big Band Fest which we have presented annually for 13 years involving University of Adelaide bands, and an invitation is also open to secondary school bands to participate in that event. There is a group here operating in a similar way to Jazzgroove in Sydney called COMA (Contemporary Original Music Adelaide). It presents fortnightly concerts with $20,000 from ARTSA. The board consists mainly of young musicians. They have achieved great things and are to be commended.

Jazz SA Inc. works in with COMA in that when we engage an interstate artist for our Sunday night gigs at the Governor Hindmarsh and COMA may then utilize that artist (if they so wish). We are presently negotiating with COMA to co-present some Dutch musicians who have been engaged to play at Wangaratta this year, and who wish to tour after the Festival. There is also a local SA Jazz Archive Board, which, although up to now has honoured trad’ players, is now looking to honour some modern players in their concert presentations.

JA: How would you describe the level of support you get from the local media, particularly main local paper The Advertiser and the local ABC?
MR: We have been extremely lucky to have in Adelaide John McBeath – a local jazz aficionado – who last year won the National Jazz Writing Award at Wangaratta. John has managed to review the vast majority of our funded concerts (and many unfunded ones.) Thus we get a reasonable amount of copy in The Advertiser. Although I fax and email the ABC, I have not had a great deal of response from them, although I believe that musicians who approach them on an individual basis often get results as far as interviews, studio time and playing go.

How has jazz been represented, if at all, by the Adelaide Festival? Do you get the opportunity to suggest ideas?
There has usually been a minimal amount of jazz in the Adelaide Festival, although I have to add that when they do present an artist that person is usually world-class (e.g. Pat Metheny at the last Festival). The Fringe and the latest festival addition – the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, held in June, usually have a far larger amount of jazz than the Festival of Arts.

JA: Are there any particularly talented players on the scene at the moment? Any more James Mullers?
MR: Triptych with Lyndon Gray – bass, Chris Martin – piano, and Hugh Harvey – drums (now Melb.) was invited to play at the last Wangaratta Festival. Lyndon Gray is only 25 years and even seasoned players like Ted Vining (who came over last year to play in Blow) have stated that they would use no-one but him, if coming to Adelaide. He has recently played in the USA.

Photo: Ralph Franke from Adelaide group Tritone