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Jann Rutherford in Memoriam
There are a few persons one never forgets. It may be because of their personality, their standing in life, or their attitude to their community. Jann was a superbly gifted pianist, composer, and professor for music. Altogether, she was beautiful. Jan was blind if one would not have known that she was blind, one would have never knows. Please let me tell you how our friendship started it is rather bizarre and if I write this editorial as a result of a re-mastered radio program I did for the CBAA and their 325 radio stations, I was deeply touched listening to the program. Susan Gai Dowling broadcasted it on one of the leading Sydney Radio stations and she is also part of the program.
I promised to tell you about the beginning of the friendship with Jann. Our Jazz Group was assembled for one of those weekend does at the Sydney Underground , the Jazz venue in the Southern Hemisphere and whoever is involved in Jazz, plays Jazz, or loves to listen to Jazz there is only one venue one visits, the Sydney Underground. You find there TV producers, recording companies, radio and movie stars, the elite of music not only Jazz but everything the Conservatorium has to offer, and also friends. One is 'under each other' and gossip about the latest in Jazz is as hot as the music being played at the session of the evening.
I was invited as a Hammond B3 player and as such renown as the former co-owner of the Hammond organisation in Australia. Beside J.S. Bach, I call the first Jazz composer of his time as to his superb improvisations coming equal with the Jazz Greats of our times. I was somehow invited by the Radio Network to do an overview about Jazz as a broadcast. Susan Gai Dowling also nagged me to be present during the evening and I obeyed the requests. The program was world class and if I mention this I am convinced that his was the case. Beside me was sitting a friend of Susan and as it was typical dark and smoky I did not see who was on either side of me sitting. The young lady to the left, a very attractive person, superbly modern dressed in style introduced herself in a rather strong New Zealand accent. Her name was Jann and she said that she was a good friend of Susan. Susan has many friends, a typical Sagittarius, musician, and a wife of a rich husband with a mansion near the Sydney Racecourse at Randwick, one of the top addresses in Sydney.
Nevertheless, Jann asked me if I would be so kind and get her a carafe of red wine but not the usual vinegar type house wine the Underground offers its patrons. Jann wanted some French Pinot Noir or so. I wanted my usual mineral water as I do not drink alcohol as I was fortunately born with an allergy to alcohol. Bringing the drinks back to our large table occupied by at least 35 persons I felt that Jann impressed me somehow. I am not easy impressed as often the flimsy friendships of actors, actresses, and musicians, artists and what altogether crawled with them made me often rather shy towards them. I also had my fingers being burned by some of them and believe me not only my fingers, also my valet.
Talking nicely to Jann we exchanged telephone numbers and addresses on business cards. By then I still did not have the faintest idea that Jann was blind. She told me to my deepest surprise. People who know me well do also know that I do not make any fuss about somebodies abilities or disabilities as I care for the character of the person more than their humdrum. I suffer from a blood disorder myself and do not like to be reminded about it, therefore only a few people know about it. What I know is that blind persons are fantastic pianists and not only that but also excellent piano tuners. At the time I did not know much about Jann I only got to know from her conversation that she was a composer and pianist. Later, I was told by friends that she is a Professor for Music at the Sydney Conservatory and has recorded countless concerts with the Jazz Department of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) closely related to Universal Records Jazz (Deutsche Gramophon-Philips-Decca) run by a friend of mine Jochen Stossberg.
A good friendship developed, we went out for dinners, telephoned frequently, and arranged concerts. In memoriam she is still around and I miss her as a friend. Fortunately, her recordings and CDs are around and as life if rather forgetful at times many people follow the proverb: Out of the sight - out of the Mind. Sad. One day it will happen to all of us. Sad, when I think about really famous persons and their houses. A while ago, I saw Liberace's house in ruins, Vincente Minnelli's and Judie Garlands villa now beyond repair, the mansion of Garry Grant in tatters and so many other famous persons I so far survived. I often think about Evelyn Kuenneke, Frank Sinatra, my former companion Christine Kaufmann (Toni Curtis' second wife) died this February 2017. God only knows how long I am still on this planet and for sure forgotten by now anyhow.
I hope you have a good thought about Jann Rutherford and her Jazz Music by listening to this radio production.
Jann Rutherford in Concert Strawberry Hotel Sydney, Photo Joe Glaysher, Sydney Morning Herald (SMH)
Jann Rutherford at her Steinway 9 foot Grand Piano. Photo Quentin Jones SMH
Jann Rutherford in Memoriam Broadcast©1989-2020
Production by Radio and Media Productions LifeStyle©1989-2013
Hosted by Prof. ret. G.Y. Land - Program announced by Dr. Mark Hannah.
Written and Produced by G.Y. Land
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