My third visit to the South Australian Jazz Archive in as many months saw me attending its AGM and another book club meeting, as well as conducting interviews with committee member and current Treasurer, Bill Wood, and his wife and SAJA volunteer, Kerry Wood. I also met with Mal Eustice who, with Pam Swanson, founded the “PAMAL Archive Research Museum” and who regularly donates artefacts to the SAJA’s collection.
It was wonderful to be an invited guest at the AGM where the various reports from the committee added greatly to my insights into this volunteer-run organisation. I’m still processing a lot of the information learned, but wish the meetings I attend in academia were as well run and concise as this one! SAJA President Don Hopgood expertly guided the meeting through the various reports and agenda items, enabling everyone present to move on to the important part of the evening – supper! The conversations that occur over coffee and a biscuit, or tea and cheese are just as important for these institutions as the more formal AGM proceedings. For some of the attendees it also offered an opportunity for them to see the archive office for the first time.
At the book club two days later, Don Hopgood guided a gathering of twelve through the life and times of Bix Beiderbecke, complete with a demonstration of Beiderbecke’s unusual cornet fingering. That was certainly a highlight of the afternoon, as was the group being roused into an informal sing-along by Ron Spain, the SAJA's former president, when Don played the Jean Golkette Orchestra’s ‘I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover’. It is a pleasure to sit back and observe the interactions that take place over the course of the two hours between participants as they share their knowledge and also between individuals and the music the presenter has chosen to illustrate the ark of musicians' careers and the critiques presented by authors of the books that are the focus of the book club.
Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the next SAJA book club which will focus on histories of jazz in Australia as I will be spending the first two weeks of October at the Victorian Jazz Archive in Melbourne. It will be an interesting shift going from the tight-knit, enthusiast-led SAJA to a much larger and more diverse volunteering body that is the VJA. Much more to learn, I’m sure.