Thursday, July 16, 2009

John Sangster - "Australia and all that Jazz" Vol 1 (1971)


"man, the destroyer"


Some jazz, some bossa rhythms, and some easy-listening-musique-concrète soundtrack all in the one package. What a bargain!

John Sangster's fascinating soundtrack album for a series of nature documentaries is buried behind one of the one of the worst, most generic titles of all time - not to mention the skanky record cover, which doesn't even have his name on it - but that was the lot of the commissioned library/soundtrack composer in 1970s Australia.

On the upside, that's probably a factor that allowed me to grab it for $3 at a street market a few months back, rather than having to pay the hundreds of dollars that some of his albums go for. Anyway, it's something of a buried treasure that we'll try and dig up today.

John Sangster was a vibraphonist, percussionist and composer who started out in fairly straight-ahead jazz groups as a cornettist, releasing two albums in the late 1940s. During the 1960s he developed an interest in the avant garde and then broadened his listening and composing to latin and other musical forms, releasing three albums that are now quite hard to get hold of - "The Trip" (1967), "The Joker Is Wild" (1968) and "Ahead of Hair" (1969).

The last of these was an idiosyncratic, percussion-laden take on the musical "Hair", recorded while he was working as a drummer in the Sydney stage version alongside prog-rock group Tully. Here's the title track (thanks Reza!) :

"Hair" - John Sangster
DOWNLOAD TRACK - not included in album download

During the mid to late 1960s, Sangster was also a member of the Don Burrows Quartet, and played on the album "The Jazz Sound Of the Don Burrows Quartet", previously featured on this blog.

That group, combined with Sangster's vibes, formed the core sound for a series of soundtracks by renowned soundtrack composer Sven Libaek, including "Inner Space" and "Solar Flares".

"Australia and All That Jazz" was commissioned by the Australian Museum - a museum of natural history - as the soundtrack for a series of 16mm wildlife documentary films by the museum's filmmaker Howard Hughes (no, not that one). Working here with the Burrows group and three additional woodwind players, Sangster himself plays vibraphone, an array of percussion and occasional simple fender rhodes (see the "Rain" preview at the top).

Ironically, the bulk of the funding for the project was provided by mining company BHP, perhaps as a payback for the fact that they were ripping up the Australian landscape at the time and wiping out much of the wildlife being celebrated here.

"First Light"

Sangster had previously worked on Sven Libaek's soundtrack for a series of nature documentaries that ran under the title "Nature Walkabout". Libaek's 1965 soundtrack had followed the standard formula, applying "human" drama to the scenes of animal activities and the power of nature.

from internal booklet, full scans in downloads

"The Birds"

For a nature documentary score, Sangster's approach here is radically different to that of Libaek - he incorporates the sound of nature itself into the soundtrack, via field recording, tape manipulation and melodic scoring for instruments - including Don Burrow's flute utilising echo-delay - that reflects the calls of birds, other animals and the elements.

While these are techniques that were common to the work of classical and experimental composers of the time, it was unusual to hear them both in a jazz context and used in such a lyrical fashion. Later on the the 70s and 80s these sort of techniques were used and abused in a range of appalling "new age" music, but here there's still a freshness.

"The City"

Nature's drama is also reflected in rhythmic sequences that reference occasional latin and afro-style beats, in the time-honoured 70s library tradition of non-european cultures being seen as 'wild', but also stemming from Sangster's genuine love for and engagement with a range of musics.

The first of his albums to cross over with his environmental interests, it's divided into two sides : "Where Water is Plentiful" and "Dry Australia", referring to the titles of two of the films the music was originally scored for. This album took the structures of and ideas behind the original recordings and developed them further in the studio.

"man, the destroyer"

I've got several albums by Sangster and others to follow in a continuing examination of the "library connection", so I hope you enjoy this one. The WAV and MP3 downloads in the comments both include scans of the four page internal booklets from the album.


All tracks written by John Sangster except Track 1 by Don Burrows.


01. 'first light'
The bush comes to life

02. 'sunrise'
The rising sun brings to life the flowers' colours - the Waratah, Gymea Lily and Banksia. This composition features Don Burrows' bass flute.

03. 'the birds'
features Graeme Lyall's tenor saxaphone

04. 'procession of tadpoles & waterstriders'
Don Burrows on alto flute

05. 'possum'
Errol Buddle on bassoon

06. 'forest with birds'
John Sangster on vibraphone and Don Burrows on alto flute

07. 'man, the destroyer'
Tony Buchanan's bass clarinet depicts the destruction of this beautiful environment - but with care, it will survive.


08. 'the desert'
Don Burrows - bass flute

09. 'skull & bones'
The sun-bleached remains of victims of drought

10. 'the sand swimmer'
Sangster on vibraphone slap-mallets

11. 'rain'
Water brings the desert to life. John Sangster on fender rhodes.

12. 'the knob tailed gecko'
Errol Buddle on tenor saxaphone

13. 'the centre'
Vibraphone improvisation by John Sangster

14. 'the city'
Even the distant city-dweller has his responsibility to preserve this land


John Sangster - vibraphone, electric piano, quijada, bells and windchimes, bongos, conga drum.
Erroll Buddle - flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, tenor sax
Don Burrows - Concert, alto and bass flutes; clarinet
Tony Buchanan - Flute, clarinet and bass clarinet
George Golla - classical and electric guitars
Graeme Lyall - Flue, clarinet and tenor sax
Derek Fairbrass - drums
Ed Gaston - bass


Cherry Pie Records
Recorded at Cherry Pie Studios, Sydney, 1971
Recording Engineers - Warren Mills, Max Harding
Studio Technician - Godfrey Gamble
Cover Design and Layout - Adrian Baine
Photography - Howard Hughes
Front Cover - Darke's Forest, New South Wales
Back Cover - near Bourke, western New South Wales


#1 : Don Burrows - "The Jazz Sound of the Don Burrows Quartet" (1966)
#2 : Don Burrows - "The Tasman Connection" (1976)
#3 : John Sangster - "Australia and All That Jazz - Vol. 1" (1971)


Vinyl rip, scans and text by

Thanks to Reza for the mp3 of

Other blogs referenced here are
The Manchester Morgue, Fine Folk and Rafter Lights.
Please thank these folks if you visit them and download their records - comments keep music blogs alive.

Downloads : WAV - MP3 


Ian said...

Looking forward to this one. I've had the Don Burrows '67 one on repeat. Thanks as always!

DJ SNEF said...

Dope album! Love the skanky cover.

Reza said...

Truly informative wonderful post
Thanks Simon

So any readers have the ones we're missing "The Trip" (1967), "The Joker Is Wild" (1968) and "Ahead of Hair" (1969)
Any help would be so, so appreciated :)

Dave Heasman said...

Sangster also did a 12-album "Lord of the Rings" set, didn't he? I remember Humph playing tracks from it on the radio, very good it seemed too.

Simon666 said...

Hi Dsve,
Not a big fan of his "Lord of the Rings" series here, but still to hear "Landscapes of Middle Earth" which I've been told has some good tracks ...

cheeba said...

Very informative post for me Simon. Completely unfamiliar with Sangster but the previews sold me - plus those scans! Lovely!

I like his incorporation of field recorded elements, they're subtle and don't overpower the music and avoid the new agey cliches this LP predates. It almost seems more like a concept album than a library/soundtrack piece. Really digging on The Birds and The City.

As always, appreciate the effort you put in and will need to follow the trail back to the Burrows pieces next.

And Reza, thanks for "Hair." That version is crazy dope!

Simon666 said...

Glad you enjoyed it Cheeba :)

kizza said...

WOW! Love the amount of effort you put into your posts!
I hail from Sydney and am constantly amazed at how little I know about funk/soul/jazz from my own backyard! When I drop in to check out your blog and see a post like this it is reinforced even more!
Fantastic effort mate, keep up the great work!

Simon666 said...

Thanks Kizza.
This was $3 at Surry Hills markets btw :)

Anonymous said...

Nice one,especially the sangster/tully track.Do you have the rest of that album? Would love to hear it.

Simon666 said...

No sorry - that track comes from a compilation, would love to hear the rest as well :)

Reza said...

Tully - 1971 - Sea Of Joy [scroll to the bottom]

or if too lazy

Simon666 said...

Thanks Reza :)
Most unusual surf soundtrack I've heard :)

Anonymous said...

Simon, thank you so much for this. My uncle brought this back for me from a trip once, but the copy is in rough shape.

Do you by any chance know which Sangster album has the funky track "Love Is Blue"?

Thanks again,


Simon666 said...

Hi Matt,
thanks for the comment. "Love is Blue" is from "The Joker is Wild". I actually have it on a comp, do you have it already, or do you want it ?

The Basement Rug said...

Great job on the LP transcription - the sound quality is top notch! Thanks so much for this one. I need some mystical sounds to soothe me these days :)

Simon666 said...

Glad you're enjoying it Basement Rug :)

Unknown said...

Thanx for the informative posts. Australian jazz has always been underrepresented in my jazz collection. Can you recommend a good book on the subject, if there is one? And special thanx for the wav files...I'm old school, lossy compression bugs me more for philosophical than audible reasons. Keep up the good work.

Slim Jenkins said...


Thanks for this, and your support on Musica del Alma!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all your work! Incredible...

Arkadin said...

I'm not really familiar with Mr. Sangster, but your write-up sounds quite appetizing (as always), so let's grab your bargain - thanks, Simon! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks again!

Simon666 said...

If the anonymous person who posted about me supporting blogs that rip off other blogs (??!) wants to email me via my profile, please do, thanks.

Robert said...

thanks Simon for another great post!!

Simon666 said...

Thanks for all your comments Robert, appreciated :)

Gonzo said...

Great blog chaps, been a fan of Ozzie jazz for some year, have a collection, but not a lot, that I have is mostly available on CD so is taboo.
Other interest is folk music (ok don't sneer) just take a look ok

Simon666 said...

hey Gonzo,
No sneering at anything here, I'll check your blog, thanks! .... now in regards to your jazz collection, do you have any of the three 1960s John Sangster releases referred to in the post? Reza and I will love you if you do :)
Anyway, thanks for the comment

Gonzo said...

Hello Simon666
Thanks for the reply, I most certainly will check for those 3 albums with my Tasmanian friend, who has a large collection, we have great swapping sessions when I visit him, he's also a musician and plays folk, so it's a bit of both usually.
Now to the "Australia and all that vol 1" It seems that it has been issued on CD, my friend has a copy, but the CD does not have all the nice details the LP does and only sports one cover picture, the dry Australia one. For some while we pawed over it, and the downloaded copy from here, initially we thought that because of the two covers the vol 1 was in fact TWO LP's which makes sense as it fits a CD, however reading more deeply it seems that it may have been just ONE LP?
Now the crux of the matter, did you know (or did I miss it?) that there is a Vol TWO of "Australia and all that Jazz" on the same lines as Vol 1. We seem to have a tape of a volume two which means it was copied from a Vol 2 disc at sometime in Tasmania. I can provide track name and details if needed, or if it's not posted, an MP3 copy of the tape, pending the arrival of a digital copy of the LP
Let me know please...

Simon666 said...

Hi Gonzo -
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I have volume 2 and it's coming up here reasonably soon :) I'm just overlapping a few series at the moment ..

Gonzo said...

Great stuff, await with interest for the complete set which we have as...

Australia and all that Jazz Vol 2
Recorded Sydney 1976

John Sangster: Keyboards and percussion
Don Burrows: Concert Flutes / Fife / Clarinet
Errol Buddle: ]
Tony Buchanan: ] Saxes & Woodwinds
Graeme Lyall: ]
George Golla: Guitar
Terry Walker: Guitar
Greg Lyon: Bass
D'arcy Wright: Bass

Landscape with Wanderer Butterfly
Bush walk with Curlew
March of the Plague Locusts
Seascape with Seals
Two Wombats
Sugar Gliders

So I am not sure how much more there is to the vol 2 album..

Simon666 said...

Hi Gonzo -
Yes, that's the Vol 2 tracklist.

Flabbergast said...

I listened to this the other day and it was very engaging! thanks!

Design said...

Thank you Simon, I grew up with this record and now I can give a copy back to my mum! I love those alto & bass flutes and the bassoon. Great solo from Graeme Lyall too. Looking forward to more Sangster.

phil said...

hey simon getting desperate for volume 2 :)
whenever you have time cheers

hops said...

cheers simon. i love a sunburnt record...

Gonzo said...

Simon, I received the Sangster "Australia and all that Jazz" Vol 2
from my friend in Tasmania, do you want a link to it for use here?

Simon666 said...

hey gonzo,
No time for blogging right now and haven't ripped it, so I'm sure the readers here would love it, thanks!

Gonzo said...

Here are the promised links for volume 2 of the John Sangster album Australia and all that jazz.

Music & Scans:

Image for Blog display:

Please note the .RAR file is password protected

to release the tracks and scans you need to enter the password when asked > gonzo

Simon666 said...

Many thanks for this Gonzo.
To me ... not as good as #1 but some nice stuff, love "Mini Mouse" :)

One of the reasons I'd slowed down on posting this (apart from the fact that I'm too busy to post anything) is that I found out both volumes are due for re-release in the near future (as well as another one of his I was going to post) ... so probably won't take this up to a full post - don't want any more blogger deletions!

nevertheless, great to have it here in the comments for the people who bother to comment :)

Thanks again!


Unknown said...

Thanks for the WAV's, detailed info, scans, hard work and passion for your blog! The previews are very handy.

Glad I checked the comments because I'll take a look at vol 2 also.

A.P-roc said...

propsi like this here

Directional Mike said...

This is a real find. And, the covers! Thanks.

Andrew Frost said...

Thanks for putting me on to this Simon - I've been listening to this all day!

Simon666 said...

Glad you're enjoying it andrew :)

Harry said...

wow, very interesting read and some of the music is just incredible. . many thanks, this has made a sunny sunday even better!

øשlqæda said...

brother simon777,
ya know i think i've had just about enough rhodes for one lifetime. whaaa?!? blasphemy, NEVER ENUFF RHODES!! this crazy palace you've erected is like alladin's cave opened up for any & owl to come round lootin & hootin. marvelous mang! sincerest shout outsw for sendin owl the business me way as well. lookin forward to yr next posts but admittedly need to baque traque a bit, missed a few dozen in my travels. in closing, thx again & now for my solicitation of another kind favor; mind tellin me how to put those nifty lil song tasters in my posts so i can be as cool as you? tanx again brudda. best

Jontowel said...

just lately falls in love again with flute and other woodwind music, so seems that this post fit right through. thx for sharing.

RE said...

Thanks for this posting great music/info...
I know John Sangster is listed in the credits for the ABC TV series "In the Wild with Harry Butler" do you know what track they used for the intro/exit credits it sounds like vibraphone... I've checked the album "Australia and all that Jazz" and didn't seem to find it... Any help would be great!

Simon666 said...

Hi RE -
Can't find a song clip of the show theme online anywhere, would need to hear it to know ... though a guy from youtube put up a show clip a few weeks ago and says that he's going to post episodes, so we'll see ..

RE said...

Hi Simon,
I recorded the intro from the DVD I bought. Any help would be great!
Thanks again!

RE said...

Sorry the link was bad this one works

Simon666 said...

Hi RE,
I don't specifically recognise that from any albums I know, might have been specifically composed for the series and not released ...

RE said...

Thanks for trying :) and keep posting the great info!

Anonymous said...

Great collection of records, eclectic and fun to dig in...just need a password to listen to the Johns Sangster album - Thank you and keep up the good work...


Simon666 said...

Hi Rob -

No passwords are required.

J Reid said...

thanks for all the hard work.

Matt/hew said...

this blog rules

R o h a n said...

Hello. I hope it's cool if I link to this page - I just put up a piece on my blog about 'The Hobbit Suite' and wanted to direct people to this.

I downloaded this album from you a couple of years ago. Sorry it's taken me this long but: thanks a million! I love this album so much and have found it profoundly inspirational as a musician.

Simon666 said...

Hi R, of course it's cool ;)
Thanks everyone for the comments!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much!! love the rhodes

Anonymous said...


This is now one of the few records that I own. And my turntable etc. are in mothballs. So the rip is very welcome.

Paradise Vol 1 is also great - available on CD!



Franco said...

Only just gettin' this for some reason...thanks for keeping it available Si' !

mattia said...

God bless you! Grazie mille! :-)

Anonymous said...

Would somebody please-please re-upload Vol. 2 to the web!

Simon666 said...

To the spammer who has been leaving 15-20 comments on this post everyday for the last three months :
If you're a bot I'm wasting my breath here, but if you're not : have you noticed that I delete them all before publication ? *sigh*

Guitarradeplastico,scraping oddities said...

many thanks, for the album and the info, incredible album,great musician