Eric Myers Jazz

work in progress



This section is dedicated to the work of John Clare, who began writing in the early 70s, and has long been regarded as the doyen of Australian jazz writers. Helen Garner, in her preface to Clare's book Take Me Higher, describes how she used to cut out his writings under his Gail Brennan pseudonym and paste them into her diary. Originally she thought the articles were written by a woman. She describes his writing as "superbly literate and articulate, deeply informed, yet completely ordinary in tone, even at their most elated. A relaxed freedom flowed through everything he wrote. He was fearless. He rejoices. He celebrated. Years later, an art critic who admired him said to me: John Clare’s an ecstatic.” Many of John Clare's articles that were published previously in various publications are collected here. Click on the INDEX button for a list of articles in this folder.

The Last Straw

The Last Straw


by John Clare

Jazz Down Under, September/October, 1975

The name Last Straw might be taken either of two ways: the proverbial straw at which drowning men clutch; or, absolutely the last straw for those who think modern jazz should be neat, white and polite. Whichever is the right meaning, it will have been intended lightheartedly by these desperate, outrageous and gifted musicians. John Pochée, Bernie McGann and Jack Thorncraft are not strangers to the jazz musician's intermittent condition: having the arse out of your pants. Young Ken James is learning. Nor is that other experience unknown to them — that of facing an audience which regards any modern jazz as a veiled insult…



by Oscar Peterson

Reviewed by John Clare

Sydney Morning Herald, August 30, 2003

Oscar Peterson could make the piano ring with brilliant clarity in all its registers. His command of the jazz vocabulary was magisterial, his swing and inventive flow almost frightening at times. He has suffered a stroke, but still plays beautifully. His fans are legion. He has been invited into the homes of European nobility to play a treasured instrument after dinner. The head of Steinway sent a piano of his own choosing for Peterson to try when he heard the musician was looking for a new instrument. This is Oscar Peterson's story in his own words…



Howie Smith

Howie Smith


by John Clare

Jazz Down Under, May/Jun, 1976

After three extensions of his stay, Howie Smith is going back to America. Contemplating this desolate finality, I came up with an appalling pun: most of us will feel a wrench, though one local musician did call him a loud-mouthed yank. Those of us who will miss him will do so for the very same reasons that a few people resented him. His energy and optimism were in direct contrast to the prevailing apathy; his honesty clashed with the habit of boozy self-congratulation. He dared to say that many Australian musicians were not fulfilling their potential. As a nation we denigrate our own talent, yet we are flabbergasted if a visitor does not shower compliments about…