- independent journalist and former ‘The Age’ writer for 18 years.
Brian Brown, an Australian jazz legend. The thing I loved about Brian was that his stuff was so individualistic you couldn’t really categorise it. His music was full of awesome inventiveness and musicianship, intelligent composition and shifting counterpoints that kept you hanging out for more. It was a sound that seemed to lie between the melodic and textural. For all but the chronically tone-deaf, the effect was a totally bewitching, even a humbling, experience. In an interview I did with him some 20 years ago we talked about how he taught young students and he said he encouraged them to develop their own voice. “It may not be like John Coltrane but it could yours, and if it’s yours, you’re contributing to world music”, he said. I regarded him as a national treasure.
- Brian Brown Ensemble keyboard player for 20+ years
Brian’s contribution to the modern Australian jazz movement was stupendous. He did so much and was so far ahead that the rest of us never really caught up. People have likened Brian’s journey to that of Miles Davis, pushing the envelope, moving on and finding the best players.
Richard Letts AM
- founder and Director of The Music Trust, founder and Past President of the International Music Council.
Brown was enormously influential in setting jazz in Melbourne on its distinctive course. His legacy can be heard every night of the week in music venues across Melbourne and beyond.
- founder Melbourne Jazz Co-Operative
The ‘spiritual father’ of contemporary Australian jazz from the 1956 Score EP ‘Wildflowers’ onwards.
- instrumental teacher, improviser and former VCA student
I learnt so much from Brian. What a gift he gave to those who were open to receiving.
- former VCA student
What a guy! He believed in me in a time where a girl playing the saxophone was practically unheard of, and allowed me to begin my music journey with a solid foundation. But most of all he taught us to believe in our individual musical voices and to pursue an ever evolving musical journey. Thank you, Brian!
- bass player, former university lecturer and VCA (classical) student
Brian’s approach to education, to music, to supporting young people in their troubled and challenging journeys was so different to the normal experience. In the true tradition of jazz mentoring and support he treated us all as colleagues of value, and provided opportunities for us to find something new about ourselves, both musically and personally. I always recall the way he could communicate ‘radical’ ides to young people whose lives had been formed around rigid classical disciplines. How he could empower them with an understanding of the potential freedom of music and musical expression, and with the passion he had in performance and his own discipline!
- researcher, music educator and professional performer
I remember going to the Fat Black Pussy Cat one night in 1964 when the Brian Brown Quartet was playing. There was a poster at the front door that had a quote from a press review that read: “Jazz has often been played in Melbourne. This is the first time it has been created.”