Jottings of a Jazzman - Selected Writings of Len Barnard

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Jottings of a Jazzman - Selected Writings of Len Barnard Edited by Loretta Barnard Self-published, 2010, Softback, 254pp, 44, Newport Road, Neptune Beach, NSW 2106, Australia. john-loretta@hotmail.com

Drummer, pianist and bandleader Len Barnard never became as well known outside Australia as is his younger brother, cornetist Bob Barnard. They were born in Melbourne in 1929 and 1933 respectively, while their mother ran the Kath Barnard Dance Band in the area from the 1930s to the early 1960s, so they had a distinct musical advantage early on. They also matured in the shadow, so to speak, of pioneers Graeme and Roger Bell.

Throughout a career playing and recording with all the major names in Australian jazz, Len always had the ambition to publish his memoirs of a rich and interesting life, but he died in 2005 without achieving this aim. Fortunately his niece, Bob's daughter, is a professional writer, editor and publishing consultant and has voluntarily taken on the task of assembling a selection of Len's personal journals, letters to friends, articles and sleeve notes. A formidable task, which she has successfully achieved in this handsomely-produced volume.

Len was more than just a professional musician. He was extremely literate and well read, not least in the classics of English literature. He was also a thinker and a philosopher, which makes his writings much wider in scope and depth than one expects from the average musician. Above all he became a collector of jazz records early on and possessed a wide acquaintance with classic jazz.

For example, he states his early influences as a drummer were Sonny Greer, Nick Fatool, Jo Jones and Dave Tough. …