September 23rd 2008
$10,000 needed to keep Jazz Party alive
"People have got to have rocks in their collective heads if they let this (Great Tropical Jazz Party) slip by," is how jazz lover and sponsor of an encouragement award of $1000 towards a young jazz musician's future, Mr Martin Sullivan, described the situation at last Sunday's close of what may be the last Jazz Party on Magnetic Island.
But if the passion for the great event's future, expressed by so many of the world class musicians counts for anything, then we will not have heard the last of this outpouring of superb jazz and musical camaraderie.
As the tickets were still being counted, organiser, Marilyn Sheather, expected the takings to be similar to last year's when the costs were not quite met by the monies raised - which were about $8,500.
"Musically it was the best ever," said Marilyn who admitted that she has said the same after former events, "but they do just keep getting better" she added.
With support from local businesses being almost entirely, "in kind," Marilyn Sheather has heard many ideas from friends and supporters as to how the Party can be funded into the future but responds, "We have tried them all over the years."
The bottom line is that, on top of the cash support from Townsville City Council of $5,000, to comfortably succeed, the Party needs another $10,000.
There are rumours that wealthy white knights are being approached but nothing is by any means certain for the 2009 event.
The artist's, enthusiasm for Magnetic's Jazz Party, which Marilyn Sheather says attrated about 1,500 over the weekend, has never been stronger. Paul Bollenback, the other half of the headline act with Chris McNulty, and world-renowned jazz guitarist, composer and arranger, told Magnetic Times, "This is a fantastic festival. I play at festivals all over the world and the atmosphere is unparalleled. It's a place where musos from all over the world can meet musos from Australia. It is a very special place and it would be a terrible loss to the music world, as a whole, if it ends."
It seems that among jazz professionals the GTJP is held in the highest regard. New York based Chris McNulty and Paul Bollenback would never have come to Magnetic had they not waived their usual fees of $5,000 per performance. None of the musicians are paid to perform. Their air travel and accommodation expenses only are met by the Magnetic Jazz Association and accommodation in kind by the MI International Resort. The key to these artist's generosity is not simply to visit sunny Magnetic Island but because of their connection to Marilyn Sheather and her lifetime's association with jazz.
Another high profile artist, John Hoffman, told Magnetic Times, "I think it's an unusually strong throwback to the jazz festivals that happened years ago that weren't only about music and musicians but the town that the festival was part of.
"Jazz Festivals all around the world are generally driven by volunteers and the support team on Magnetic has given the audience and people on stage a very special bond.
"We come from various cities to play and there is that wonderful feeling of home town applause. I have such personal respect and love for what Marilyn does and thank her for everything she's done this far."
GTJP's founder, Max Brown's former band member, Des Windsor was visiting the Party and described the musicians attending as "the best of the best'"
Some observed the role that culture and music play in building a modern city's reputation. New Zealand trumpet player, Murray Tanner, said, "In New Zealand there are not many people who are aware of Townsville so I think the people who make events such as this create attention," adding, "Noosa, as a Jazz Festival, has less attention than Magnetic Island."
Marilyn Sheather announces the winner of the ($1,000)
John Hoffman Young Performers Encouragement Award
with sponsor Martin Sullivan and Neil Sellers
Martin Sullivan said, "I couldn't see musicians like John Hoffman, Errol Buddle, Chris McNulty and others in six months in Melbourne or Sydney.
"It's the quality. This is the best I've been to - not to disparage others."
Pixie Bayley, Max Brown's former partner said, "If Max could see how it's carried on he'd be overwhelmed by the talent - the best in Australia and doing it for nothing!"
Australian Jazz legend, Errol Buddle, supported this saying, "They're the best jazz musicans in Australia."
Elizabeth Hoyt in action
One of the great benefits of the GTJT has been its capacity to nurture younger artists. One of these, vocalist, Elizabeth Hoyt, who was awarded the John Hoffman Young Performers Encouragement Award, was very aware of the Party as a great musical learning experience, "You can develop in yourself working with the greats in Australian jazz - the older players who are giving us the opportunity to get better."
Another youngster, trombonist Blake Phillips, said, "Playing with musos who've done as much as these guys helps raise your expectations of what you can do."
Double bass player, Helen Russell added, "There's not many festivals you can do this. It's like a big family."
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