Vale Janet Seidel, Australia’s First Lady of Jazz you were a genius of expressive minimalism and those who loved and respected you and your achievements will long remember you.
Free and easy was your appealing style… we all just loved to watch you smile… and while we may have only seen you once in a while, we all looked forward to making you and your wingmen smile with our acclamation.
Erudite and with just the right combination of style and vigour, Janet Seidel lit up many lives with her smile and her music. Like all her friends, fans and followers I was stunned into almost total silence when on August 7, 2017, her trusted wing men David and Chuck, posted the news of her passing.
It was all I could do to share their post on facebook hoping to communicate my immense sense of loss. Words have failed me for a time and I must admit I have been processing her loss ever since.
Certainly I feel inwardly very sad we will not share a cup of coffee or chat happily as we did on the all too few occasions we met since we were first introduced by a mutual friend.
It has also been very hard to come to terms with the knowledge we will not be seeing the Janet Seidel Tio in concert again.
It was only in May, just a few months ago, that my companion and I enjoyed an outstanding afternoon with Janet on her keyboard and singing with David Seidel on double bass, Chuck Morgan on jazz guitar and ukulele and her very special UK guest Cyril Bevan on drums.
Led by Janet, together they delivered a generous one and a half hours of sophisticated classy very cool sultry swing jazz. They sang all the old favourites including Johnny Guitar, It’s a Good Day, Is That All There Is and a trio of delights her muse Peggy Lee sang from the Walt Disney movie Lady and the Tramp, to name a few.
As always they delivered a stunning program of marvellous music eloquently and with inspiration in quartet mode. It was both an adventurous and happy celebration of the contradictions, exhilarations and the ironies of both being and feeling alive – a platinum event.
With a great deal of natural grace, Janet Seidel through her performance art laid bare for us all to see what could only be described as extremely fine entertainment, holding as she had done so many times before, the packed house Salon crowd at the Melbourne Recital Centre in the palm of her hand.
As I said at the time; “Talking to a number of guests after the show, not only was the concert a trip down memory lane for many, including me, it was also as far as they were concerned, the best ever!”.
She already knew she was departing for faraway places and she left a wonderful and very warm memory of her characteristic smile and her high standards of excellence in performance as she paid her own special tribute to all those who had always supported her.
She was as unselfish as always, to the end.
In the foyer afterwards I found her surrounded by people all wanting a CD and to have it signed and not wanting to disturb the flow I raised my hand to catch her eye so she would know I had been there and to let her know we would catch up again.
She waved back and sang out over the crowd thank you Carolyn McDowall and slightly paused before then adding … goodbye. I remember thinking at the time it was slightly formal and momentarily puzzled but propelled forward by the crowd, left thinking I was imagining things. Now I realise it was final I feel quite undone.
Joining me for coffee the first time we met in person in a café in Sydney’s Surry Hills, Janet Seidel and I discovered we shared a common love of, and interest in many performance art disciplines, most especially a love of the same sort of smooth creamy jazz.
Encountering her warm and generous spirit was a very special experience and we shared a fund of stories that will resonate in my memory for a very long time.
Family, friends, fans and followers can rejoice in the knowing of Janet Seidel. Her passage through the world has left, through us all and many others, an influence for all time on the evolution of music that matters in Australia.
Janet Seidel knew what she liked, what she wanted in life and embraced it. She went out, made her career happen, and was admired far and wide for her commitment to her craft, which she brilliantly turned into an art form.
She always made every song feel fresh and all brand new. She was an artist in every sense of the word.
Dear Janet, may the road ahead rise to meet you and light perpetual always shine upon you.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017