L-R: Kenn Jones, Fred Stephenson, Wes Brown, Tony Newstead, Alf Hurst, Harry Price
SUNDAY JULY 27th 2014 was indeed a remarkable day in the history of the Victorian Jazz Club - it was a day during which a two hour function was held specifically to pay tribute to six of Melbourne’s jazz musicians who have been entertaining audiences for many years.
Following an idea put forward to one of the Committee some months ago, it was agreed that it was indeed a pity not to let these guys know how much they had been admired over the years, and why not give all their families, friends and fans an opportunity to be present when we gave them the accolades. Those on the receiving end were: Wes Brown, Alf Hurst, Kenn Jones, Tony Newstead, Harry Price, and Fred Stephenson. As a result, close to 200 people came to the Clayton RSL between 2pm and 4pm not only to hearabout the lives and careers of these musicians, but also to talk with them, listen to some great music being played by some of them, whilst at the same time enjoying afternoon tea and lots of chatter between friends from yesteryear - all provided by the Victorian Jazz Club.
The day was a resounding success, and many jazz orientated folk not seen for years came along to be part of this milestone in the history of the VJC. After an introductory welcome from VJC President Warwick Shields, the microphone was handed to John Crichton, a past President of the club - who presented each musician with a framed award from the VJC, expressing thanks for their efforts overthe years. A brief profile of their musical careers was also delivered by John.
At the end of the afternoon’s activities, the core band - which consisted of Ian Smith, John Cox,Ben Rushworth, Brian Kemp, and Alan Stott were joined on stage by Kenn Jones, Harry Price, DaveCampbell, Clint Smith, and Wes Brown and the sound they produced brought them a standing ovation. At one stage, both Wes and Ben were playing the same drum kit simultaneously - the only word to describe this “sit-in” was “magical”. I am certain that this event will be responsible for heralding further similar functions each year in the future.