Grievance Debate: Generations in Jazz

Wednesday May 09, 2018

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:24): I rise today to talk about Generations in Jazz. Last weekend was the annual event. Each year, it gets bigger and each year I say to myself when I am in the concert that it is the best one I have ever seen. This year was no exception. To have had US jazz sensation Patti Austin here performing was a real treat. I encourage everybody in this house, at least once while you are here, to come down to Mount Gambier for Generations in Jazz to watch the number of schools, mostly from South Australia, and the wonderful experience that is Generations in Jazz.

I have called on the state government, as well as the Premier, in a notice of motion to award Generations in Jazz major events status, to invite all arts journalists from across Australia to be guests of the Premier to showcase what is truly Australia's, if not the world's, best jazz festival for students. There is no other jazz festival like this in the world where over 6,000 students come into one venue, which is basically a paddock with a big tent on it, to play jazz and be mentored by some of the best jazz musicians from around the world. It is led by James Morrison but there are many more.

Of special note, I would like to thank the volunteers. Having volunteered there on Saturday morning, I saw the waves of kids—there is no other way of describing it—when the buses lined up. I do not think there was a bus company available on that weekend to charter a bus because, if there were not 60 to 70 buses (and these are the big 90-seat coach lines), plus minibuses on top of that, I will go he. The volunteers did an amazing job and some of the volunteers I spoke to were doing 12-hour shifts two days in a row. That is the dedication of those volunteers to our community, and I thank them.

They were ably headed up by Fiona Unger and the new chair of Generations in Jazz, Mark Mentha, from KordaMentha, who is taking Generations in Jazz to the next level. There were VIP dinners and a lot of mouths to feed. I want to give special mention to Anna Winkler, who masterfully dealt with the VIPs, and the large number of people on the hospitality side of it, which ran very smoothly. It was an amazing event to be involved in.

The hip party band The Cat Empire, as well as US sax star Jeff Clayton, really inspired the crowd. But then they had a percussionist from Madrid in Nasrine Rahmani and the Cologne-based trombonist Shannon Barnett, who inspired the crowds during an exciting line-up of concerts. The Premier came down and said:

What a great event for the people who are participating but also for the City of Mt Gambier; this is a festival the entire community gets behind…This is a transforming event for the student participants; they're enjoying the music, away from home, learning some additional skills…it's something that all the people in South Australia should be very proud of.

Australian trucking magnate Lindsay Fox and his wife, Paula, were there, as were Jeff and Felicity Kennett, who now attend regularly. Jeff Kennett was quoted as saying:

It is the wholesomeness of it—over 5000 young people from all around Australia who love music…It's very well organised and to be quite honest, it's terribly uplifting. I think this is one of the most underrated events in Australia, because all of these children come from all over the country, and then there are the musicians from overseas who come to play at the concerts; if I were still the Premier of Victoria, I would pinch this for Victoria.

Luckily he is not. Lindsay Fox added that 'seeing is believing':

Generations in Jazz is something that needs to be shown on a national basis to show the people of Australia and the regions our commitment to music and the youth of our country.

Time expired.