World's Best Jazz Club: The Story of Bennetts Lane

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

WORLD’S BEST JAZZ CLUB: the story of Bennetts Lane is one of those rare books that provides an intimate snapshot of an iconic place. It is a fascinating exposé of the life, music and twenty-one year history of a famous jazz club. The book is filled with little gems from many great jazz artists, but more than that it documents the history of a significant place through first-hand accounts to create a wonderful view of life in the jazz scene during the critical bridge into the new millennium.

The anecdotes and recollections from many of Australia’s and the world’s great jazz musicians – including Michelle Nicolle, Allan Browne, Ben Robertson, Barney McAll, Geoff Hughes, Joe Chindamo and Paul Grabowsky are divine, evocative, inspiring and often controversial. The list of musicians who have performed there, from Prince to Wynton Marsalis alone, is testament to the importance of this book in documenting the impact of Bennetts Lane in shaping the sound of the past 20 years.

Along the way, the story deals with many of the vexed topics that pervade running a successful music club, including business versus art, the importance of alliances with education and industry, media hype versus the real musician and the benchmark elements of acoustics, location and, of course, music. It illuminates the club’s founder Michael Tortoni, himself a former member of successful seventies rock band Taste and a VCA graduate, and the importance of Tortoni in creating the recipe for the special sauce that brewed up a great jazz club through the carefully measured ingredients of business acumen, vision, artistry and plain audacity.

David James has done a splendid job in researching and revealing the inner workings of this iconic club and the huge impact it has had on the Australian and world music scene. As the author notes, “Bennetts Lane is a place where jazz has been developed as an art form in a way that has occurred rarely, if ever, before in Australia”.

The Victorian College of the Arts has been closely connected with Bennetts Lane from the club’s very beginning as a place where the spirit of jazz, improvisation and exploration resides within the walls. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it and may you, like me, be challenged, inspired and intrigued by the beauty within.



Last modified on Sunday, 21 September 2014 20:20
back to top