Conjuror | jazz poems by Allan Browne

Release date 1 June
Official launch 4 June 2012 at Melbourne International Jazz Festival

70 poems by Allan Browne and a Jazzhead CD with 7 pieces of new music featuring the Allan Browne Sextet

See more about Conjuror at

Drummer Allan Browne co-founded the Red Onion Jazz Band in 1960. He has worked extensively with Australian jazz luminaries including Vince Jones, Barney McAll, Steven Grant and Paul Grabowsky. Allan has been in constant demand as an accompanist for many international jazz icons including Milt Jackson, Mal Waldron, Jay McShann, Herb Ellis, Phil Woods, Al Cohn, Plas Johnson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Art Hodes, Wild Bill Davidson, Urbie Green, Ronnie Scott, Charlie Byrd, Ralph Sutton, Sheila Jordan, Red Holloway, Emily Remler, Teddy Wilson and George Garzone and he has also led numerous groups, in all jazz genres. He has worked in film and his discography numbers 110 releases; awards include two Arias and four Bell awards. He was awarded the Don Banks Fellowship in 2000 for his contribution to Australian music. Allan has written poetry for 40 years.

Poetry and jazz

Geoff Page and Alex Boneham, Paperchain Bookstore
Photo by Brian Stewart —

On Sunday 12 February, at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka, ACT Geoff Page read from A Sudden Sentence In The Air, collaborating with Alex Boneham to create an event filled with the sounds of jazz and poetry.

An appreciative crowd added into the mix and we were treated to half an hour of poetry and music

Read the CanberraJazz Blog Post >>>

Purchase your own copy of A Sudden Sentence In The Air >>>


12 Feb: Canberra launch of A Sudden Sentence In The Air

A Sudden Sentence In The Air - cover
A Sudden Sentence In The Air - cover by Ian Robertson

This Sunday 12 February, please join us at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka in the ACT for an inspiring event of jazz and poetry.

Geoff will read from his recent collection of jazz poetry A Sudden Sentence In The Air, and collaborate with bass player Alex Boneham: together, musician and poet create a groove that evokes the jazz clubs of New York and Paris. Don’t miss this combination of jazz and poetry – a perfect Sunday afternoon experience.

Sunday February 12
2.45 for 3.00pm

RSVP Saturday February 11
Telephone 6295 6723 or

A long time lover of jazz and improvised music, Geoff Page has been writing poetry about the music and its musicians for many years. In this beautifully designed collection you’ll find poems about the US greats and local jazz luminaries; poems about audiences and venues too. This is pithy stuff and whether jazz is already embedded in your life, or you would simply like it to be, there will be something in these pages that speaks to you.

“If jazz could be written down in words, then this is it! Spirited, insightful, spontaneous; yet so cleverly constructed that every phrase delights and intrigues, revealing both unexpected and familiar truths about music and life.” Sandy Evans

John McBeath reviews A Sudden Sentence in the Air in The Australian

Poet riffs on the language of jazz and its players

John McBeath from The Australian November 26, 2011 12:00AM

Canberra-based Geoff Page has published 18 collections of poetry as well as numerous novels and anthologies, and he is active in the capital’s jazz scene, running monthly concerts. His new collection, A Sudden Sentence in the Air, contains a poem entitled A Manual of Style, dedicated to stellar Sydney saxophonist Bernie McGann, and selected by Black Inc for its forthcoming Best Australian Poems 2011. It’s easy to see why the 13-line poetic description of McGann’s playing was selected: Page’s savvy observations inform his lines, taking on a kind of riffing of language, echoing and explaining the music.

Read the full review here >>>>


Photos from the launch of A Sudden Sentence In The Air

The launch at Wangaratta was fantastic!  Geoff Page read from his collection of jazz poetry, accompanies by Alex Boneham on the bass. What a great way to launch a book of jazz poetry at the beginning of a jazz festival. Here are some pictures of the event.

Launch – A Sudden Sentence In The Air

Launching 28 October

Mike Nock will launch A Sudden Sentence In The Air at Wangaratta Jazz Festival on Friday 28 October at the Wangaratta Library. All welcome – let us know you’re coming so we can make sure we’ve catered properly…

Date/time: 6-7 pm Friday 28 October
Venue: Wangaratta Library, 21 Docker Street, Wangaratta Map >>>

Geoff will read from the collection, collaborating with bass player Alex Boneham for some jazzy sounds. Refreshments will be provided. Please join us – it’s a great way to start the festival!

email us at with your RSVP.

If you want to support independent booksellers by getting your copy of A Sudden Sentence In The Air through them, you can let them know we self-distribute and the friendly and efficient Miriam can help them with consignment orders.

Call 1300 783 446 or email

Or alternatively, get your copy online here >>>>

The longest poem: 40 years of ECM

From time to time, we bring you back to extempore journal with an issue or a feature. Most of the content we published in extempore between November 2008 and 2010 is timeless… you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come. We’re not doing reprints and we have limited stock,  so if you don’t have your own copy, might be worth a thought…

Issue 3 excerpt:  Essay

John Shand – The longest poem: forty years of ECM

Get your copy of Issue 3 now > and support independent publishing!

Hear ‘Birdsong’, a track we love (from YouTube) from an ECM CD.

Excerpt from John Shand’s piece in Issue 3

Eicher then had one of his light-bulb moments for a spectacularly successful collaboration between Charlie Haden, Garbarek and Gismonti. Two brilliant releases ensued in 1979, Magico and Folk Song, both floating into a cross-cultural zone that nonetheless resulted in music of distilled purity. Eicher says that putting together musicians who have never played together is always a risk. ‘But nothing in contemporary music should go without risk,’ he adds. ‘You might say one of the driving forces in art to me is to take risks. This risk was to bring people together from Los Angeles, Rio De Janeiro and Oslo and then be, so to speak, on an island where nothing else counts, and we come together to make music. If it works, it works wonderfully, as it did with Magico and Folk Songs. There are a few occasions where it didn’t work so well. But most of the time I would say the greater the risk, the more satisfying the result.’

Eicher also enjoys trying to massage the players into the right mood. ‘You don’t talk about musical notes,’ he says. ‘You talk about something else that comes from the surroundings, the light or the circumstances; that comes from our memories, our lives. That is what makes records live, and also makes them stay alive after 30 years.’

A thread running through much ECM music is the very 20th-centruy artistic phenomenon of evocations of starkness and loneliness; the predicament of humanity in a hostile world, paralleled in the paintings of de Chirico and the plays of Beckett. While Eicher acknowledges that an array of influences plays upon his sound world, he is adamant that there is never an intention to impose these influences on the music: they emerge organically.

About the author

John Shand began writing about jazz for Jazz magazine in 1981. For 17 years he has been The Sydney Morning Herald’s jazz critic. He contributed to The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, edited and co-wrote the 24 Hours Essential Guide to Jazz, edited Jazz’n’Blues magazine, and has been a regular jazz contributor to 24 Hours, Limelight, Australian Hi-Fi and SAM magazines. His writing on jazz has also appeared in Vogue Australia, The (Sydney) Magazine, Rhythms, Jazzchord, Beomag and programs for the Sydney Festival. Many Australian jazz CDs bear his liner notes. In 2008 he published Jazz: The Australian Accent (UNSW Press). John is also a playwright and librettist, who has previously published The Phantom of the Soap Opera (a play for teenagers) and Don’t Shoot the Best Boy! – The Film Crew At Work.

Visionary producer Manfred Eicher gives few interviews, but his record label’s [ECM—Editions of Contemporary Music] 40th birthday was enough reason to find time for a chat with John Shand. The longest poem: forty years of ECM is a personal appreciation of ECM interwoven with material from interviews conducted with ECM artists over three decades.

This Video from YouTube transported us and we wanted to share it!  DEFINITELY NOT the high quality sound you’d expect from from an ECM CD but still beautiful.  ‘Birdsong’  was recorded live at the Village Vanguard inNew York. Chris Potter on tenor sax, Jason Moran on piano, Paul Motian on drums – a song from the ECM CD Lost in a Dream.

Get your copy of Issue 3 now > and support independent publishing!

Review: Take Me Higher by John Clare

Reviewed by D. Byrne

Sometimes people, places and deeds are hard to separate. Sometimes impossible. John Clare, jazz musician, critic and music lover, is one such person. His love of writing, jazz, his fellow jazz musicians, as well as the life of a jazz musician are of a piece. These loves are not the kind that set boundaries, but instead, are those that lay foundations for something more. On them are built la dolce vita, the sweet life, that includes, moreover, his enthusiasm for water sports and bike riding. These sentiments, moreover, pulse through the many short and long pieces which comprise this collection.

John Clare’s life as a Sydneysider, born in 1940 at Maroubra Bay, gives his enthusiasm for water sports and bike riding a form and content which only this city can give. While Sydney has many shades of light and form, it is at heart an intensely physical city with its own distinct voice which Peter Carey has so wonderfully re-created, in his book 30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC). Its sunny days are deeply dazzling; its rain and wind, utterly penetrating. His essays ‘Bike! Bike!’ and ‘View from the ward’ reveal for example both the physical joys and pitfalls of bike riding around Sydney, as ‘Autumn Water’ and ‘Ad lib: zwischen den Flaggen’ reveal the joys of swimming at its beaches.

While Bodgie Dada and the Birth of the Cool (UNSW Press) reflects the key role jazz plays in the author’s life, Take Me Higher celebrates the no less important role that writing has played. In all pieces, the reader finds a warm sympathy for his subject combined with a keen eye for detail, together with an economy of expression, all hallmarks of fine writing. These are probably best shown in ‘”I cutta the balls off!”: becoming a professional writer’. Acute observation comes to play in the longer ‘Take me Higher’. In this short memoir, a regional plane flight becomes the vehicle for reflections on family life, Sydney’s tribes and neighbourhoods, science and religion, Biggles and economics journalist Ross Gittins, contemporary politics and a very post modern appeal to the future for some answer to some of the intractable issues of the day. Such are these incessant squabblings, as reflected in a newspaper he took on the flight that he cries to himself ‘Pilot, can we have more altitude? Take me higher!’ (p. 153). This piece, Clare says, is ‘about as near as I approach the spiritual’ (p. 107) – and shows that he has been able to transcend the many dualities that so often define a life.

All our parents warned us about the pitfalls of becoming a writer, becoming a musician, and the rest. We are indeed fortunate that a few ignore this well-meant advice.

In his character profiles of Leslie Walford, ‘Pork Pies, kitsch and high society, the Walford Way’, of Jeanne Little in ‘Maaaarvellous’, and Pastor Arthur Neville in ‘The Word of God comes to you in a white Mercedes’, the descriptions of the landscape of Sydney found in some of his other pieces are given some flesh in the interviews and background commentary on these minor Sydney celebrities of an almost bygone era.

With his extended pieces of jazz criticism we move from the rhythms of the exterior world to a more interior set of rhythms. In so doing Clare’s personality changes key. His opinions are more definite notwithstanding the abstraction of the material. His critical and well informed engagement with jazz’s roots and traditions as well as its many later by-ways give backbone to his commentary. The themes of creative excellence in ‘The Lone Trumpeter’ and ‘Ten Part Invention & Andrea Keller’, camaraderie in ‘Ornette Coleman in Sydney’, homage in ‘Sonny Rollins at the Sydney Opera House’, and spontaneity in ‘Meeting Miles and (Gil)’ illuminate just how much the ethos of jazz permeates his soul and his bones. This undoubtedly helped him to capture the lighter, more expansive side of Miles, a rare feat indeed:

I smiled and Miles then began laughing softly rocking from side to side on his leather lounge chair. I watched him draw, wondering whether we ought to sort out that strange run of non sequiturs. I personally didn’t care. I knew exactly what he was talking about through all the changes of direction, yet I would find it hard to explain. At any rate, he just kept talking and drawing. (p. 115).

Few journalists can boast of such an encounter. The interview alone is worth the price of the book, I might add.

Clare’s Sydney Morning Herald ‘Spectrum’ pieces range further than his other essays. The contradictions of everyday life, love, work and culture are reflected upon in the context of celebrity ‘Fame and other bruises’, and religion ‘Religion: stand up if you believe’ and ‘Across the bridge between youth and age’, art and science ‘Art in the time of science’, and the physical and the spiritual ‘God’s dance party remix’. As someone who has lived a full life and more than that, has examined the meaning of his life, the fallacy of many typical dualities is transparent.

All our parents warned us about the pitfalls of becoming a writer, becoming a musician, and the rest. We are indeed fortunate that a few ignore this well-meant advice. We are also fortunate that, moreover, that some of those who do dare to step outside the white picket fenced rat race are able to lift their fellows just that little bit higher, at least for a while. John Clare’s many accomplishments as a jazz musician and critic, as well as author, poet and journalist have greatly enriched this country’s cultural life.


© D. Byrne

D. Byrne is a public servant who enjoys good books and fine music.

See more about Take Me Higher and get your own copy (free postage) >>>>