About Brisbane Jazz Club
We live and breathe jazz
It started back in the sixties with three enthusiastic jazz musicians looking for a venue to play. Today, that’s still what we’re about—being a home for jazz to thrive.
We’re committed to letting the music live on through unforgettable experiences. You’ll find people from all walks of life becoming part of the family here at the club:
- Performers and patrons
- School-aged learners and seasoned listeners
- Established and emerging artists
We want to see the legacy of Brisbane Jazz Club jamming and doo-bopping into future generations.
Can we brag a bit?
These are a few things we thought you’d like to know.
We’re known internationally
Word gets around in the jazz world. Recently, Herbie Hancock from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) endorsed our International Jazz Day Festival with high praise on the quality of jazz and the club’s influential role in making jazz accessible to everyone. Australian legends like John Morrison, Jackie Cooper and John Hoffman also grace our stage regularly.
No other jazz club has a legendary resident big band like ours
It’s a squeeze to fit all 18 musicians plus a guest on the club stage but 50 years of popularity means we’ve got it down to a fine art. The Swinging Brisbane Big Band blends the sound of trumpets, saxes, trombones, piano, drums, bass, guitar and a vocalist to form a powerful sound that wraps around you and sweeps you in.
Led by Brad Esbensen, we play a range of big band music. Classics by the likes of Ellington, Basie and Sinatra through to modern favourites from personalities like Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé and Diana Krall, all feature.
We love to show off our own compositions, regarded as some of the best in Australia. ‘Groove Tonic’ and ‘Tailspin’ are commercial albums that showcase a selection of our growing library of original music. So many other big band musicians came to share notes, that we started The Brisbane Big Band Festival in 2012.
Meet the BJC team
A volunteer committee drives the vision and mission of the club to spread the joy of jazz. Paid experts fulfill operational roles and take the club to a professional level.
Our rich history of jazz in Brisbane
Back in 1968, jazz enthusiasts Toby Ashby, Bruce Haley and Denny Olive were looking for a place to tinkle the ivories, warm up the guitar amp and slap that bass. They found it at The Adventurers’ Club in Newstead. Their ‘adventurous jazz’ performances on Sunday nights brought a fresh vibe to the club and eventually led to the creation of The Brisbane Jazz Club in 1970, when a Bar Permit was first issued in that name.
A stage, a boathouse and a few good artists
We moved into our famous Annie Street boathouse with its sloping boat ramp floor in 1972, when the club needed more space. Here, the club grew from strength to strength, starting with its first Jazz Convention in 1976 and moving on to include big bands. The first Easter Jazz Fest held at the club boasted 30 Queensland and New South Wales big bands competing. Carnivals, balls and youth bands have added to the club’s rich heritage.
The building continued to be known as The Adventurers Club until 1985, when we formally became The Brisbane Jazz Club, and the only Jazz Club in Australia to have our own premises!!
The time we narrowly escaped closing down
The 2011 flood almost brought the club to its end. Flood water rose half the height of the building as the Brisbane River swelled, but we got the important stuff out in time. Brisbane City Council helped keep our rich history and community involvement alive by taking on tenure of the land to ease the financial burden of repairs. With several reconstructions over the years—building the river deck, soundproofing, signage changes and more recently a brand-new licenced bar—our entertainment space is now slicker and more versatile than ever.
The legacy lives on
The day that we celebrate as our Anniversary is April 15th, 1972, which was the date that the then Lord Mayor, Clem Jones, was rowed across the river for the official opening of our Annie Street premises. So now we celebrate 50 years of countless great musical artists performing on our stage. The dedication and commitment of our leaders, volunteers, members and community keeps the legacy alive. We want to see the jazz club continue to thrive in future generations.