Jack Duffy Award

The Jack Duffy Award is a trophy presented by the Hobart Jazz Club in conjunction with the Musicians Union of Tasmania. Jack Duffy (deceased) was a musician (piano/vibes/accordion) who, apart from being talented and jovial, loved to encourage the younger players with their music.  Nominees’ work is measured by ability and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm includes what the nominee gives back to the jazz industry.

About Jack, written by his son Martin Duffy:

The award was set up by the Jazz committee following the passing of dad in 2002 and it’s something our family has really appreciated, no doubt Jack is looking down with a proud grin.

Jack absolutely lived and breathed playing Jazz music, and music really was his life. His first professional gig was in 1928 at age just 12, playing the piano to a traveling silent movie show that was visiting towns in outback Victoria.  His mates sat in the front row “Faster Duffy, faster” as dad looked at the screen making it up. What a wonderful grounding this must have been.

He served in World War 2 and for the last few years of the war joined the Tasmanian Jazz group on Piano Accordion. No doubt he talked his way into that because as some would remember, my old man could talk under water. For ever the comedian was Jack Duffy.  80% was always fact, but then there was that 20%, that grey area that really made you wonder if he was just having you on.

In the 1950’s he moved to Tasmania, was based in Launceston and for some time, according to Jack, he was the only full-time professional musician outside of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Apparently this one is true.

So what makes a muso like Jack a true great, or dare I say a legend? Well just like so many past and current Tassie musos of today, Jack was a show stopper, quite simply when he played his instrument people really listened, his main instrument though was the Piano Accordion, and it was here he made his music talk, he really was that good.

I remember frequently coming home from a late night out playing in one of my “Rotten Roll” bands as dad would call it, and there would be dad at 6am in the practice room, up and about and focused practicing the piano or the vibes or brushing up on the accordion “The Suncoast Festival is on in 2 weeks, gotta make sure I’m right for it”.  Dad was ever the perfectionist, they called him Flash Jack Duffy, perfectly dressed to match the well rehearsed music he was about to play, be it solo, a duo with mum or part of the many trad bands he played with back in the day.                                                  

Dad loved young people & would often talk to me about those young ones coming up through the ranks “oh, that Randal Muir, I tell ya he’s gunna be a ripper, he’s got a great left hand”. How right he was and young Muir is now one of our true greats.

And so this brings me to a topic and I can hear dad speaking here, is it time to retire the Jack Duffy Award and hand the baton to another past or present great?

Dad was a people person and I feel this is what he would want for it was never about him, life was always about the greater cause.

2003 (inaugural) – Randal Muir (piano/accordion)
2004 – James Maddock (sax)
2005 – Joint winners Matthew Ives (drums & band leader) and
Cameron Scott (multi-instrumentalist & band leader)
2006 – Kelly Ottaway (piano/vibes)
2007 – Hayden Dare (trombone)
2008 – Alex Howroyd (sax/clarinet/flute/trumpet)
2009 – Nick Hart – (guitar)
2010 – Dan Sulzberger (piano)
2011 – Liam O’Leary (drums)
2012  – Hamish Houston (bass) & Nick Parish (guitar)

2013  –  Aaron Entrezs (guitar)
2014  –  Amelia Johnson (vocal)
2015  –  Jamie Pregnell (guitar)
2016  –  Mia Palencia (vocal)
2017  –  Iestyn Parry (piano)
2018  –  Isaac Gee (bass)
2019  –  Sophie Leslie (vocal)
2020  –  Angus Leighton (sax)
2021  –  Eleanor Meredith (vocal/piano)
2022  –  Chris McGuinness-Terry (drums)