Longford Jazz Festival demonstrates a love of music

ALL THAT JAZZ: Don Ives leads the festival procession in 2016. Picture: Phillip Biggs
ALL THAT JAZZ: Don Ives leads the festival procession in 2016. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Don Ives’ lifelong love of music began as a small boy, and has  grown ever since.

The Longford Jazz Festival founder first learnt how to play the piano as a young man, and he knew from a young age music was his calling.

While he now teaches piano to local students, Mr Ives has a long background in playing to live crowds.

“I’m a classically trained piano player –  I can’t get much noise out of anything else,” he said.

“My cousin got me into a band when I was 18 and I was learning so much.

“I owe a lot to the people around me who I’ve grown up with.”

At 80 years old, he successfully organised the fourth annual jazz festival at his adopted home of Longford over the weekend.

The festival is based off the now-defunct Suncoast Jazz Festival that brought hordes of tourists to the East Coast town of St Helens, according to Mr Ives.

It was Mr Ives’ son who first suggested he start his very own jazz festival.

“When we came up here [to Longford] six years ago my son said ‘dad why don’t you have your own festival?’ so that’s how it started,” he said.

The jazz festival is a family affair for the Ives family.

Three of Mr Ives’ four children played in this year’s jazz festival, with his son Matthew Ives starring at the event. 

His band, Matthew Ives and his Big Band, are a 17-piece group that plays all over the state.

“The oldest one [came] over with her own a capella group and performed at the gospel service and through the festival.

“The next one he plays bass and he’s be an integral part of [the festival]. 

“Our youngest is Matthew and he’s big band. He was the only one of us who went to college [for music].

“I now ask him for advice.”

This year’s festival was particularly emotional for Mr Ives, because of the recent death of Peter Voss – an integral member of past jazz events. 

Mr Voss’ funeral took place just one day before the start of the festival, and Mr Ives decided to create a trophy in his memory.  It was won by singer Christine Bailey for her contributions to the Longford Jazz Festival over the past four years.