Jazz has a long and varied history in Australia, and it has been successfully presented in night clubs, festivals and a variety of other venues since the 1920s. Australian musicians learned the music largely from recordings, although visiting American jazz bands influenced the Australia jazz scene a great deal. (Sonny Clay’s band from Los Angeles toured Australia in 1928, their departure forced by the fact that band members were fraternizing with Australian women ... read that as “white women.”)
The 1940s saw a resurgence in tradition jazz performance, mirroring a similar movement in the United States. One of the finest of the so-called “trad bands” was Graeme Bell and his Australian Jazz Band. The band used Melbourne as a home base but traveled the world from 1947 onward.
Not a great deal of Graeme Bell’s music has turned up on film, and this is the only clip that I know of that features the musicians who were with Bell in the 1940s. Filmed in December 1971 at the Australian Jazz Convention, Dubbo, New South Wales, this performance of At A Georgia Camp Meeting (Georgia Cakewalk) is an important reminder of Graeme Bell’s music, and the power and importance of the “trad” movements in jazz.