The NFSA is mourning the loss of Australian jazz legend Graeme Bell, who passed away today in Sydney at the age of 97. Pianist, composer, band leader and a passionate promoter of jazz in Australia, Bell had a musical career which spanned 70 years. He is regarded by many as the most influential jazz musician that Australia has ever produced.
Graeme first trained as a classical pianist but was converted to jazz by his brother Roger Bell, playing their first gig together in 1935 in a Scout Hall as the ‘Hot Air Men’.
As well as being a superb musician, he was an active member of the Australian jazz community who worked to raise the profile of Australian jazz. He created opportunities for jazz musicians to play, set up the Uptown Jazz Club and formed groups such as the Victorian Jazz Lovers Society.
This is an excerpt from 'Two Day Jag’, one of the first jazz recordings of Graeme Bell’s Dixieland Band, from a session in January 1944. NFSA title number: 232811.