Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Maurie Gilman’s Ginger Jar Orchestra

May 6th, 2013 by

94/63/1-103/33Glass negative, quarter plate, group portrait of a dance band, Tom Lennon, Sydney, Australia,1932-1947

In the Sydney of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, The Ginger Jar cafe was one of two places that a good girl shouldn’t go, according to historian, Bill Boldiston. The other was Ziggies in King Street.  The Ginger Jar Cafe was located in Her Majesty’s Arcade in Pitt Street. Of the two venues, the Ginger Jar was considered to have the best music. The management employed a regular band and sit-ins by quality musicians were encouraged.

Jazz historian Jack Mitchell believes that the photograph above was taken early in 1934 at the time when Maurie Gilman succeeded Dick Freeman as leader of the Ginger Jar Orchestra. He was able to identify most of the members of the band. From left to right: “Tiny” McMahon (tenor saxophone), Dick Freeman (drums), Maurie Gilman (saxophones, clarinet), Bert Mars (saxophone), unknown, probably Lynn Miller (trumpet). Bert Mars was later replaced in the band by Colin Bergersen. The unknown member of the band is probably the pianist.

This photograph from the Tom Lennon photographic archive collection and was taken when Tom Lennon was the official photographer for Dance Band News.

Tom T. Lennon, was a commercial photographer whose studio was at 64 Victoria Road, Drummoyne. The 1796 negatives in the Powerhouse Museum Tom Lennon archive are largely of balls and dinners held in Sydney, but also include weddings, funerals, work events, parties, portraits, pets, fashion, horse races, and various places and events. At the time that this photograph was taken, Tom Lennon was the official photographer for Australian Dance Band News. Other images from the Tom Lennon archive have been posted previously on Photo of the Day.

Research by Paul Wilson, Archivist.


Photography by Tom Lennon

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