M y first formal brush with music was shared with the vast majority of young Australians of my era – piano lessons at the age of seven under the stern eye of Eric Clapham in suburban Melbourne. My parents were sure that my long fingers presaged a potential Claudio Arrau, but the daily practice was an ordeal, only relieved years later, when my new teacher explained to them that passing the fourth grade exam by one mark made a concert career for me problematic.

David Williamson David Williamson. Photo © Jonno Searle

Living then in rural Victoria, I joined the local brass band, where the only vacancy was on E Flat Tuba. After lugging that burping monster around for a year, I was hugely relieved to be promoted to cornet.

Traditional jazz and folk music was all the rage back then, but it was the electric sounds of...

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