Last week I was pleased to read a nice obituary of Tony Standish in The Age. A leading importer of early jazz recordings to Australia, Tony died on 17 December 2016, aged 85. I actually didn’t know Tony very well, but I bought a lot of my favourite jazz records from him – often twice. The first time as vinyl LPs in the 1960s and the second time as CDs in the 1980s.
As a teenage schoolboy in the 1960s who didn’t enjoy school, I used to look forward to Saturday mornings when I would catch a train into the city and spend my weekly pocket money on a carefully selected LP record of early jazz music. There were really only two shops in Melbourne to buy these records – Bob Clemens in Little Collins Street and Tony Standish’s above Frank Traynor’s Folk and Jazz Club in Little Lonsdale Street. Tony Standish was more likely to have the classic jazz recorded in the 1920s that I loved. In particular, I remember buying a box set of almost all the recordings of my favourite bandleader Fletcher Henderson, that was obtainable only from Tony Standish. Later on, I bought the same set of recordings on CD from Tony via mail order in the 1980s.
I think the main reason I didn’t get to know Tony was our age difference – he was in his 30s and I was a shy teenage trombone player. I was in awe of the older jazz musicians and collectors who also bought records from his shop, and so I felt inhibited in talking to them or to Tony himself. Nor did I go with them to the nearby Continental Hotel after Tony’s shop closed every Saturday lunchtime, because I was too young. Instead, I caught the train to Prahran, where I had my weekly trombone lesson with brass band cornetist Norman D’Ath.
Tony Standish facilitated the nucleus of my extensive collection of early jazz recordings, that I now draw upon to present my jazz radio programs on RPP FM and 3CR AM. I couldn’t have assembled this collection without him.