The North West's Jazz Ambassador to Australia
Anybody who has listened to jazz on the internet for as long as I have, can't fail to have come across Peter Cowden's broadcasts. He produced more than 200 half hour podcasts for lovers of traditional jazz between 2006 and 2009 under the Jazzology name. He currently produces Swingtime Radio, Broadcasting Traditional Jazz, Swing, Blues, Gospel and popular vocals worldwide 24/7, and you can listen to it here
Peter was born in Gatley, Cheadle, Cheshire and after moving to New Mills in Derbyshire as a teenager until finishing school his family moved to Thornton Cleveleys. It was there he tells me he used to visit Blackpool weekly for the big band dances but it wasn't until national service in Dusseldorf that he became interested in jazz. Shortly after demob he migrated to New Zealand and stayed for about a year but found it too quiet. He arrived in Sydney in 1958 and immediately found a very lively jazz scene. It was only when he started radio in 1988 that he realised that availability of overseas jazz LPs was virtually non existent so he set about correcting that by launching Jazzology Australia. I'll let Peter tell his own story. -
I arrived in Sydney back in 1958 on the good ship
Monowai after a short stint in Auckland. Initially, I found the
Sunday night dances at the Trocadero filled my needs for good
dance music until one evening I was taken to the 'RocksPush'
where the Bob Barnard band was playing. A crowded venue with a
good atmosphere I returned regularly listening to not only Bob
Barnard but also the Graeme Bell band who played there when they
weren't touring overseas. Another regular gig was at the
Ironworkers Building; an unlicensed union location which
necessitated crossing George Street to the Newcastle Hotel
during the sometimes quite extended music breaks. Another
Saturday afternoon venue down on the waterfront at Woolloomooloo
in a pub beer garden was somewhat seedy. My friend, the late Viv
Carter (formerly Acker Bilk's drummer) told me that one day a
customer who had won the regular Saturday raffle at some
adjacent premises took advantage of his prize (which was a lady
of somewhat dubious reputation) on the dance floor. The band
played on. Those were the days.
We then moved to Brisbane with work at the end of
the sixties and it was there that apart from the Adventurer's
Club (mainly modern/mainstream) I found The Twelfth Night
Theatre Club. Every Tuesday this cellar venue featured the
Vintage Jazz Band which played to a packed house. Visiting bands
such as Kenny Ball would come and sit in but unfortunately, it
was closed down for safety reasons as there was only the one
I was still broadcasting on radio but now on 2NUR a larger radio station on Newcastle NSW. The advent of CDs had provided a major boost to Jazzology but I lacked a marketing base apart from newsletters and response from radio broadcasts. It was then that I discovered iTunes and as I was already preparing weekly programmes for 2NUR decided to apply the same material to the internet as podcasts. Although in those days podcasts weren't all that well supported by listeners I had enough dedicated subscribers to make it worth doing. Some of these podcasts still play regularly on Swingtime Radio.
Following the passing of my wife Mary, in 2010 I moved to Woy Woy and became involved with the long established Jazzleague at the Central Coast Leagues Club in Gosford NSW. Our main objective apart from listening to different jazz bands every Sunday afternoon was to raise money for scholarships for aspiring young jazz musicians. So far we have awarded over $63K to help with their development.
My new wife Bobbie and I attend weekly jazz at the Ashfield Club in Sydney where we listen to Dennis Quinlan's Bridge City Jazz Band and their regular guests and will hopefully be returning to the Jazzleague once the club gives us approval to restart after COVID.
I am currently working on the Swingtime Radio jazz page to make it more interesting and interactive. Please contact me at email@example.com if you would like to contribute programmes to Swingtime. Amongst others we already have regular contributions from well known UK banjo player and composer Pete Sumner.
Please visit my Home Page