Jack Varney

Jack Varney – 1918 to 2008


Jack Varney Born on January, 15 -1918 in Port Melbourne, Victoria.  Jack was one of Australia’s most versatile and respected musicians, who played the banjo, guitar, piano and the vibraphone.  His music career was interrupted during the war years when he saw service as a pilot with the RAAF.  

Jack Varney was a member of the internationally acclaimed Graeme Bell Australian Jazz Band which toured Europe, and appeared on the BBC and a several European radio networks.. He played both banjo and guitar with the band as well as doubling on piano for Graeme Bell. 

During his 2 years in Europe Jack shared billings with such jazz legends as Erroll Garner, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Humphrey Lyttleton and The Dutch Swing College Band.  At the time Jack was named as one of the top 4 banjo players in the world.

On his return to Australia he played in orchestras and bands that accompanied such star artists that included Frank Sinatra and drummer Gene Krupa. 

Outside the recording studio Jack played in television studio orchestras, and also in various groups at Melbourne’s top night spots

Jack’s extensive music career included 17 years as A and R Manager with Australia’s W and G Records, during which time he produced scores of recordings for some of the biggest names in the early days of the Australian recording industry. Included were two very successful groups that he formed – “The City Slickers” and “Happy Jack and the Bar Room Boys”– winners of 4 Gold Albums. He was also involved in writing commercial jingles.  Jack Varney was a life member of the Musicians’ Union of Australia, and also a former President and Trustee of the Melbourne branch.   Jack Carter Pianist died and his widow Glen Carter married  Jazz musician and record producer Jack Varney, one of the original members of the Graeme Bell Jazz Band which was the 1st Australian jazz Band to achieve international renown. Glen an accomplished pianist and music teacher, also had several albums to her credit.  The couple can be heard together on a “cocktail style” album with Jack on vibes and Glen on both piano and organ.  Together they also formed a Keyboard Academy in Melbourne which was won a National award in 1981 and ’82.
After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease Jack Varney passed away in his 91st year on May 19th – 2008.

Dixieland Jazz Band 1947 & 1948 – Bilarm BAC 24
(a) Roger Bell – Cornet; Ade Monsborough – Valve Trombone / Clarinet; Geoff Kitchen – Clarinet; Graeme
Bell – Piano; Lou Silberseisn – Bass; Russ Murphy – Drums. Recorded 11th April 1947. (b) as (a) Don ‘Pixie’
Roberts – Clarinet replaces Kitchen, add Jack Varney – Banjo / Guitar,