Track Selection: Mack the Knife
Australian Jazz Quintet: Jack Brokensha AUS (vib) Dick Healey US ,(as,fl) Bryce Rohde AUS (p) Errol Buddle AUS (ts,bars,cl) Unknown (d) (Teddy Charles replaces Brokensha on Mack the Knife) recorded 1958, sufficiently obscure not to appear in most discographies, or as they say on eBay, “rare!”
“Australian” and “Jazz” are not two words you see often together. Well tie me kangaroo down, sport, it is better than it looks, honest! A trifle kitsch, but all the musicians manage to play passable jazz despite the corks strung around their hats, and is that Ned Kelly on drums I see? The opening bars of the track selection “Mack the Knife” are ironic, incidentally, and quickly settles into a good bop groove to elaborate the tune. Four Australians and one American, the quintet toured the US between 1953-57, no doubt in a beat up old VW camper van.
Shiraz jazz? Cabernet-Sauvignon dinner jazz? Perhaps it’s a little unfair mocking the Australian angle so much. But if I can get away with it, why not? They have given us poms a lot of stick over the years, so time to get even.
Vinyl: Bethlehem BCP 6030, original US mono DH
Classic US Fifties DG mono pressing. Bethlehem, a record label for which Google search generally returns large number of matches involving nativity scenes.
Destined to languish indefinitely on a North London record store shelf. Australian Jazz – Australia? yeah, cool, cobber? Jack Brokensha, is that spelled correctly? Sellotaped edges, on “Bethlehem” with a blurred photo of three pennies…right. From a Kurt Weill opera. Do I look like Marlene Dietrich? .
None of the signals that give the jazz collector a rush. If anything it looks like a project from Mel Brooks “The Producers” – designed to fail. Despite this, Bethlehem is a good New York Fifties Jazz label and anything on it is worth investigating if it is sufficiently inexpensive, which this was.
Two other Australian Jazz Quintet records on Bethlehem appeared in the same store a month later, but I didn’t feel strongly that I needed to own more than just the one. Maybe even that was one too many.