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The nation’s most valuable individual music prize – the Australia Council for the Arts Don Banks Music Award 2008 – goes to Australian jazz icon Bob Sedergreen.

Australia Council music board chair Dr Graeme Koehne will present the $60,000 award in Melbourne tonight at an event celebrating Bob Sedergreen’s outstanding contribution to Australian music.

‘Bob has made an inestimable contribution to Australia’s musical and cultural identity over the course of his extensive career. A highly gifted pianist and composer and an inspiring educator and mentor, he has helped create the distinctive voice that is Australian jazz music,’ says Dr Koehne.

‘His impact and influence in performance, composition and education have secured his status as a national treasure. The Don Banks Music Award 2008 is recognition of this important contribution.’

Bob says: ‘I am deeply honoured to receive the Don Banks Award and to join such a distinguished alumni of award recipients, all of whom have had such a profound impact on Australian music.’

Bob is regarded widely as one Australia’s leading jazz performers and educators. He has supported some of the world’s biggest names including Jimmy Witherspoon, Nat Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, and worked with leading Australian artists such as John Sangster, Don Burrows, Brian Brown and Judy Jacques.

Bob has worked with a variety of ensembles and groups, from the traditional to the contemporary.

He has recorded more than 20 albums and toured extensively in Australia and overseas including Montreal, Malaysia and Europe. In 1990, Bob won the inaugural Jazz Award for Australia’s best keyboardist.

In 2006, the Victorian Arts Centre awarded him The Kenneth Myers Medallion for contributions to the arts. He was the first musician to receive this award.

As an educator, Bob has lectured in the Jazz components at the Victorian College of the Arts and the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Music. He has also been an artist-in-residence throughout the majority of secondary schools in rural and metropolitan areas of Victoria.

The Don Banks Music Award is one of the highest accolades in Australian music. It is awarded annually to a distinguished artist who has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the artform.

Past award recipients include composer Richard Meale AO MBE, music educator John Curro AM MBE, composer Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE, singer/songwriter Bunna Lawrie, jazz musician Bernie McGann and conductor Richard Gill OAM.

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