It’s not your standard day in school… but then again, there’s nothing standard about class time at the James Morrison Academy of Music. Students come from all over the country–and some from overseas–to the old Mount Gambier Town Hall Chambers to learn from one of the greats of jazz.
The James Morrison Academy of Music has been up and running for five years now. Wander in on any given day and be careful where you step… you might trip over a double bass or perhaps stumble across a class in full swing.
Most of the students will spend three years at the academy, always under the watchful eye of a teacher who’s continually pushing his talented protégés for just that little bit more.
It’s a dream come true for student Isaac from Port Macquarie in New South Wales. But his new home in Mount Gambier is partly the result of this town’s long connection with Generations in Jazz, a festival that’s now into its 32nd year. In early May, students from 135 Australian schools and two schools from New Zealand will converge on a paddock just outside town. It’s a festival so big it now requires a very big tent – one of the largest modular tents in the world in fact.
Generations in Jazz brought James Morrison to The Mount as a paid musician more than 30 years ago. When contemplating a jazz academy, he was determined to establish it in a regional centre, and not a big city.
On Thursday night, the students are certainly cookin’ at Morrison’s Jazz Club, just down the road from the academy. They run this club themselves and Big Band Night is free. On Friday and Saturday nights, you pay $10 to get in, and when you do, you can see what years of practice and teamwork can inspire.
If you’re coming to Mount Gambier then make sure you drop into the Morrison Jazz Club in Commercial Street. It’s open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. The Generations in Jazz Festival is on again from May 3rd to the 5th in 2019. Tickets are available here.