Modern Jazz Australia 1969-80: Pyramid Pieces 2 (Roundtable) 2021

Sampling online at Juno Records (a UK vinyl/ DJ specialist), is an interesting way to pass some time, check out forthcoming vinyl reissues  and releases. There is a steady stream of new-to-me artists, and a lot of dance beats, meh. Every now and then something unexpected comes along. “Modern Jazz 1969-80”  caught my attention, but what’s this, from Australia, the land down under? Tracks sourced from two Aussie jazz labels from the 1970s I’d not heard of, and artists I’d not heard of…  but the samples caught my ear. I thought, something different, why not?  Two dangerous words when put together.

Compilation: Track List

A1. ​Valley Of The Tweed – Bob Bertles’ Moontrane
A2. Kuri Monga Nuie (trans. “Big Black Dog”} – Bruce Cale Quintet
A3. Whirlpool – Charlie Munro Trio
B​1. Circles – Allan Zavod
B2. Number One – Ted Vining Trio
B3. What The Thunder Said – Out To Lunch ​

Compilation: artists/history

Despite speaking English as a foreign language (‘strine, to the uninitiated), several of these Australian jazz musicians served their musical apprenticeship in the familiar 60s/70s music scene of the UK and US.

Bruce Cale (Tubby Hayes Quartet/ The Spontaneous Music Ensemble/ Prince Lasha); Bob Bertles (Nucleus/Neil Ardley);  Allan Zavod (Frank Zappa); others, basically Aussie homegrown artists: Charlie Munro, Ted Vining, and a free jazz unit ‘Out To Lunch’

The compilation is culled from two independent Australian jazz record labels: Melbourne’s Jazznote and Horst Liepolt’s 44 Records.  German-born Liepolt’s career bears similarities to Blue Note founder Alfred Lion, also a German emigrant. According to Liepolt’s  2019 obituary, he never lost his thick German accent, which was fondly imitated by friends: Tell you vot, baby, ze band voss svingkink!.  In 1944, the 17 year old Liepolt first heard Louis Armstrong’s Savoy Blues, and it changed his life forever. After moving to Australia, in1957, he opened a jazz club in Melbourne, Jazz Centre 44, and later,  established his jazz record label, 44 Records.

The quality of the original 1970’s recordings is very high, engineer Ross Kirkland at his Earth Media Recording Studios, other engineers likewise. Great dynamic and tonal range, happily survives this transfer to vinyl, which punches way above its weight: open, spacious, bass rich but controlled, cymbal-strikes resonate, no capricious frequency cut-offs, an unexpected sonic delight.

From the Roundtable website: 

“Following the critical acclaim of the 2020 compilation Pyramid Pieces, The Roundtable return with a second offering of modern jazz from Australia during the late 1960s and 70s.

While continuing to focus on the modal forms explored in Volume 1, this second edition shifts direction, surveying other post-bop modes representative of the scene including soul jazz, avant-garde and free jazz.”

Selection 1: Bruce Kale Quartet  Kuri Monga Nuie (Cale)  

.  .  .

Artists:  Bruce Cale, bass; Alan Turnbull, drums; Bob Bertles, tenor sax, flute; Paul McNamara, piano; engineer, Max Hardin; producer, Horst Liepolt. (selection live broadcast)

Original release: The Bruce Cale Quartet At The Opera House (Australia, 1979) label: 44 Records 6357 724

In 1965 bassist Bruce Cale followed the well-worn path of Australians to the Motherland, Pom Central, London, England. In the Summer of 1966 he played bass in the Tubby Hayes Quartet, credited on two Tubby Hayes Quartet recordings:

Tubby Hayes Quartet – June 23rd, 1966 
Tubby Hayes (ts,fl), Mike Pyne (p), Bruce Cale (b), Tony Levin (d).
(Marshmallow CD – The Shadow Of your Smile)

Tubby Hayes Quartet – August 9th, 1966 (Ronnie Scott’s)
Tubby Hayes (ts), Mike Pyne (p), Bruce Cale (b), Phil Seamen (d).
(Candid CD – Night and Day)

Later in 1966 Cale relocated to the US, where he remained, playing as a sideman until the late 70s. Then, with jazz everywhere in retreat, Cale packed his bass and  returned to Australia, to concentrate on composing and leading a jazz orchestra. A collection of his orchestral works was described by George Russell, with whom Cale had studied, as “…lyrical and elegant. His use of the harmonic palette is uniquely his own, and draws on his early training as a jazz musician. He is unafraid of beauty; his work is thrilling in its complexity and scope.”

Cale remained in Australia to the present day, now in his early eighties, at his home in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. This recording captures just a fragment of his life’s journey, but is no less for that.

Selection 2: Ted Vining Trio Number One (Sedergreen)

.  .  .


Barry Buckley, bass ; Ted Vining, drums; Bob Sedergreen, piano; Recorded January 23, 1977, at Earth Media, Sydney, Australia; engineer, Ross Kirkland; producer, Horst Liepolt.

Original source:

Number 1,  from the LP “Number 1” (# 6357 712)  44 Records, Australia (1977)


Ted Vining is described by the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative as “a cornerstone of Australian Jazz, a drum colossus and cultural force for over half a century.  He toured with US jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, George Cables, Nat Adderley, Clifford Jordan, Lee Konitz and Mark Murphy, among others, and has recorded and performed at major International Festivals”  Little known outside of Australia, just a couple of records rarely found outside the continent, Vining has no Wikipaedia entry (“Were you looking for Ted Viking?“) His trio remains a working group in Melbourne, Victoria.
The track “Number 1” has a terrific bossa-groove that kicks in half way around 3:50 in the player/selection, great bass lines too from Barry Buckley. 

Vinyl: Roundtable PYR02

“Pirates Press” stamped in runout.  There is a Pirates Press custom vinyl manufacturing service in California, with European links to the Czech giant pressing plant GZ Media, where this LP likely this was manufactured. The centre-labels have a characteristic circular “fine-combed” vinyl surface underneath the label, which you see frequently on pressings from this giant plant. (Pressing plants should insist on attribution in the credits!)

Collector’s Corner

Australia is no stranger to jazz – back in the late 50s, The Australian Jazz Quintet, featuring pianist Bryce Rohde (correct spelling), toured the US extensively, releasing six albums on the Bethlehem label. Bottom left, Three Penny Opera, posted at LJC in 2014, where I mostly exhausted my limited stock of Aussie jokes. I bought just one AJQ – which turned out to be one too many.

The pool of jazz musicians in Australia has been small, with the same few names bobbing up on each others recordings. Musically, I’m not sure there is a genre “Australian Jazz”, rather, jazz which happens to be played In Australia, by Australians, much as it might be by musicians of any other nationality, anywhere else.

A closer look at Australian jazz has revealed British Jazz  has had its fair share of the wizards of Oz (including New Zealand).   Seen here at work in 1975, Dave Macrae, Bob Bertles and Brian Smith.  British Jazz and Australian jazz are not a million miles apart, just ten thousand, London to Australia.

“Lucky Dip” is a different method of exploring jazz. Instead of battling in an auction for something you really want, against others who also really want it, take a lucky dip, and discover something you didn’t want, because you didn’t know it existed. You have to chase what you want, and then occasionally, take pot luck.

Ema Chizit? (‘strine trans. How much is it? )
Little more than twenty quid.


(Couple of trolls have started posting negative comments at LJC under multiple false and rude names. IP address points to Tennessee, USA.  Nuisance, not welcome here. Please ignore.)

9 thoughts on “Modern Jazz Australia 1969-80: Pyramid Pieces 2 (Roundtable) 2021

  1. An interesting choice – and one which would otherwise have passed me by. I enjoyed your sample but also a good proportion of all the others that I managed to find online. Pyramid Pieces Volume 1: Modal & Eco-Jazz may be even better. I’m very tempted and would almost certainly buy if it wasn’t for the fact that I rarely if ever listen to the few compilation LPs I already own and I think the same thing would happen with these. My loss, I know, and nor can I quite explain why I never listen to compilations…


  2. So owruzeallgointhen , great to see some Oz jazz mentioned. I knew Horst in the 1970’s before he moved to the US and started the Sweet Basil thing etc. He was a great promoter for jazz and a good person. I was able to buy some of his collection before he moved. Can I also mention a couple of LP’s albums by Bruce Cale LP’s that are really worth exploring called The Bruce Cale Orchestra Live at the Basement (Sydney)Volume1 and 2. Recorded in 1987 . They feature Dale Barlow , Ernie Watts (USA) and Roger Frampton .You mentioned the connection between Cale and George Russell , Bryce Rohde was also influenced by Russell at the start of the 1960’s and made an interesting LP in 1962 called Straight Ahead .


    • A rich seam of music here, more than I anticipated, thank you. Whilst Australians are well-travelled, their records seem less so – most discogs copies remain located in Australia, and many decline to ship to UK. Anglophobia?
      The local record labels – Larrkin, Modern, all unknown, time for some homework.


  3. The finest Aussie musician was undoubtedly Ray Warleigh, up there with Osborne & Watts as an altoist and a superb flautist


  4. “He is Unafraid of Beauty”…I really love that.

    I can tell you that Australian Jazz Quintet originals on Bethlehem are a very common sight in Philadelphia record store bins and presumably elsewhere in the East, too. They obviously enjoyed some success in the mid to late 50s. Those records, which apart from the six Quintet albums you list above include two earlier ‘Australian Jazz Quartet’ titles, have always been to me record store Fool’s Gold. Seeking out original, straight-ahead, 1950s small-group-jazz-with-a-horn on a good label, one flips through hundreds of 80s reissues, “Concerts by the Sea”s, Herbie Mann, easy listening hits, etc. when suddenly there appears a bold and gorgeous oldie on Bethlehem -a good, though pretty white, 50s label. “Quartet”! “Kangaroos”! And only $5.00?! I feel every young collector has sprung for an AJQ record once; but typically only once. Pleasant stuff, but pretty limp.


    • I can second this observation – I’ve seen the AJQ Bethlehem originals in record stores in the Boston area as well, and they usually are priced very modestly, typically under $10, and are in decent condition. The album with the four kangaroos on the cover clearly comes to mind. I agree: while they are pleasant enough sounding, they have unfortunately not captured my musical attention enough to warrant repeated listening.


      • AJQ were a late ’50s troupe of Aussies playing “American jazz”, recording film and stage tie-ins, nothing of any lasting merit, no connection with the mid- 70s recordings here, which are informed by what was happening in jazz twenty years later. Any connection was unintentional.


  5. Pirates Press is HUGE. They press seemingly every underground or indie vinyl release I come across in the US these days.


  6. What a choice friend Andrew! Jazz completely unknown to many and in my case I discovered it a few months ago in a beautiful vinyl store on a short trip through northern European lands… and obviously, this vinyl came in my suitcase! Happy New Year!


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