Australian jazz has evolved from a wholly imported form of music making to a vibrant and diverse range of styles, dialects and concepts that emanate from within its music communities. Emerging from Anglo-Celtic and African American traditions, Australian improvising musicians have developed their own expressive capabilities and personal voices. Distance from American jazz culture contributed to early Australian jazz musicians experiencing an imitative, assimilative and intuitive process of appropriation and interpretation of styles, conventions and performance within an emerging Australian culture. Current jazz and improvisation students participate in formal and informal learning amidst an array of cultures with innovative local improvisers and an education system influenced by dominant canon and hegemony. This article investigates the lifespan learning practices and enculturation of five professional Australian improvisers, investigating how as developing musicians they negotiate learning within a continuum from conformity and innovation and evolve perspectives to improvised musicking, and the role communities of musical practice play in these emergent understandings. Implications are drawn from the diverse ways of learning and collaborating, used by Australian improvisers who employ innovative vocabularies within vibrant and receptive communities. I argue for a more personally situated and reflexive learning of improvisatory skills and knowledge, urging engagement of students in frameworks of learning that provide more holistically fulfilling and creatively based improvised music making activities.
- Australian jazz
- Collaborative learning
- Communities of musical practice
- Formal-informal learning
- Jazz improvisation