Correspondence: Jack Brokensha RIP

Mark Stryker, music critic of the Detroit Free Press, sent this note:

Thought you might be interested in this— a couple months ago I recall a comment on your Mitch Miller/Bird post including a reference to the Australian Jazz Quartet/Quintet. The vibraphonist from the group, Jack Brokensha, a longtime Detroiter,Brokensha.jpg died this week at 84. This is a link to the Free Press obituary.
Couldn’t find any YouTube clips with Jack, save a few Motown hits where he’s playing various percussion instruments and/or vibes. There must be film of the band somewhere; I can’t imagine they weren’t on television at some point, particularly when they went back to Australia to play. Interestingly, Jack once showed me a fascinating reel of home movies that he had taken back in the middle ’50s when the AJQ was traveling widely as part of package tours with Miles Davis’s band, Brubeck, Carmen McRae and others. The films were super 8 and they were silent. What stays with me 14 years later is that you saw all the cats relaxed on tour, waiting for the bus, hanging on the street, smiling for the camera (Miles too), plus film of the marquees and clubs in various cities. My memory is hazy but I think he also had film of the various groups performing though the reason this doesn’t stick out is that, as I said, it was all silent footage.
Brokensha was a sweet guy with a firecracker personality. He was a real fixture here.

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  1. Larry Pryce says

    So sad to hear of Jack’s passing. I was fortunate to speak at length with Jack a year ago and was hoping he would have archived photos and/or film of him playing at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge back when he was part of the house band. He couldn’t offer up any resources at the moment, though it sounds like he had a significant stash of archived material.
    Currently I’m working as Associate Producer for Sherman Oaks Creative, a company doing a documentary on the history of Baker’s Keyboard. If you or anyone else delving into Jack’s history unearth any materials linking him to Baker’s Keyboard or playing in Detroit in the late 50’s, please contact me.
    My email address will be changing by New Year’s, but phone numbers would be 989-879-4116 or Cell 989-430-8804.
    Thanks much for your consideration.