Expressive identity in the voices of three Australian saxophonists

McGann, Sanders and Gorman


  • Sandy Evans Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney and University of New South Wales



Saxophone, Identity, Australian Jazz


Saxophonists Bernie McGann, Kim Sanders and Tony Gorman are instantly recognisable by their distinctive sounds. Their lives and music exemplify three different ways that individual identity shaped the structure and sound of jazz in an Australian context. What musical materials and processes do they use to express their identity? How does their music reflects their cultural, social, and personal histories, and aesthetic preferences? What insights does their creative work offer into understandings about musical thought and practice, and identity in Australian jazz culture? These questions are investigated through analysis and discussion of a composition and improvisation from a seminal recording by each saxophonist: McGann’s ‘Playground’, Sanders’ ‘Gnome Chomsky’s Deep Focus Boogie-Woogie’ and Gorman’s ‘Spice Island’. The differences between these three saxophonists, and the wide variety of global musical source cultures they draw from indicate the impossibility of representing a singular Australian jazz identity. I argue that it is imperative to consider Australian jazz identity as multiply-constituted, and to undertake critical enquiry to understand and document the musical practices of the individuals and groups who create and inhabit Australia’s richly nuanced musical spaces.

Author Biography

Sandy Evans, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney and University of New South Wales

Sandy Janette Evans is a teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and Jazz Orchestra Director at the University of New South Wales.


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How to Cite

Evans, S. (2015). Expressive identity in the voices of three Australian saxophonists: McGann, Sanders and Gorman. Jazz Research Journal, 8(1-2), 257–276.