This section is dedicated to the work of John Clare, widely regarded as the doyen of Australian jazz writers. Helen Garner, in her preface to Clare's book Take Me Higher, describes his writing as "superbly literate and articulate, deeply informed, yet completely ordinary in tone, even at their most elated". This section collects some of John Clare's articles published previously, and some original contributions.
LLOYD SWANTON’S AMBON
by John Clare
Music Trust’s Loudmouth, December 1, 2015
The question hanging over the Ambon interlude of WWII - for those who have actually heard of it – is this: why send a cursory force to defend a small island against the Japanese when that island had little strategic value, being closer to Indonesia than to Australia (indeed it is now part of Indonesia)? Well, Gull Force as it was called, was sent and soon ordered by its own command to surrender. Facing greatly superior numbers, this ignominious ending was pretty much inevitable. Given the less than human status accorded by the Bushido cult to anyone who surrendered, their lives would be fairly miserable. Double bassist, composer and band leader Lloyd Swanton’s uncle Stuart Mill Swanton was one of the largely forgotten contingent who spent the rest of his war as a prisoner...
WITNESSES OF THE THIRD COMING: THE ROCK AND ROLL DIARY OF A JAZZ FAN
by John Clare
Extempore, November, 2008
Here is some contrary motion. Before rock and roll became rock—before the advent of the intellectual rock writer—this was the music of working class youth. It was soon the universal teenage music, as swing had been the universal youth music in another era; but it had that rebel cachet, and of course it carne directly from black and hillbilly minorities. Barely in advance of the rock and roll era, my family moved from Sydney to a company house in a leafy Essendon street replete with box hedges, and we became middle class overnight. My father, after much hard post war grind, had been sent to manage a cardboard carton factory in North Melbourne. I never really adjusted to this southward but upward movement. No sooner did we become middle class than I became a juvenile delinquent...
THE MIKE NOCK QUARTET AT FOUNDRY 616
by John Clare
May 25, 2018
Although the duets between Nock’s piano and Laskowski’s tenor sax were profoundly empathetic, they could also seem like a contest to see who could disappear into the cryptic, or even who could fall asleep first as their phrases became softer and shorter. This was gloriously slumberous at times. The tenor crowned at whisper level and the piano became tiny bells in the treble – everything pings and clangs. Yes, tiny clangs…