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Serge Ermoll 16.8.1943 to 8.10.2010 - RIP - The Lion of Australian Jazz That Roared !
12 Oct 2010

Serge Ermoll 16.8.1943 to 8.10.2010 – RIP – The Lion of Australian Jazz That Roared !

Rest In Peace Serge.  It is with sadness and heavy heart that I write this. Serge Ermoll passed away yesterday. He was not only one of our most colourful artist but had become part of the extended Blue Pie Family and was one of my mentors. I was fortunate to have met and shared many larger than life moments with one of Australia’s greatest Jazz men.

You could always rely on Serge Ermoll’s music for one element— it was never dull. Serge may have played it pretty or wild or straight ahead or free but it was always an involving experience. While Serge was at home in many different areas of jazz, his real importance was as one of those very necessary experimenters. His experience is extensive and this saw him at the forefront of jazz in Australia for the past thirty five years.

Serge also spent two highly successful periods in Britain. Serge recorded a session with one of the legends in Britain Stewie Speers on one of his later albums. This is probably the last known recordings made by Stewie. And as Serge said ” The word ‘legend’ is horribly overused these days but it surely applies to Stewie ”

Serge Ermoll was the son of Sergei Ermolaeff, a Manchurian born, Russian jazz orchestra leader. In China, Sergai worked as a drummer/musician, building a reputation as one of Shanghai’s more notable orchestra leaders during the 1930’s and 1940’s. While experiencing the onset of the communist revolution in China, Sergei and his wife Xenia (singer/dancer) and son Serge Jr, won passage on the Chan Sha ship migrating to Australia in 1951.

For nearly forty years, jazz pianist Serge Ermoll has been renowned for his exceptional skills, constantly pushing boundaries, while defying the marketplaces demands to conform. His group, Free Kata, formed in the 1970s, “…ripped open the heart of music aesthetics in Australia.” (John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, August 2003). Ermoll has played with some of the greats of the international jazz scene. During the recording of more than twenty-nine internationally released albums and playing on the live circuit across the globe, he has created moments with some of the greatest names in modern jazz. Visiting the UK in the late sixties, he was invited to fill in for Dudley Moore, when he was invited to Hollywood.

A revered musician before finding fame in the latter, Moore never returned to the UK as a regular player. Serge went on to become an integral member of what was the Dudley Moore Trio, with Chris Karen on drums, originally from Melbourne, and Pete Morgan on bass (British) who was also a great vocalist. Serge was playing consistently for the next seven years in the territory as a result. Serge was a regular at the prestigious Ronnie Scotts, to sight one example, during that period.

Other artists of significance Serge has collaborated, recorded and performed with include, Richie Cole, Lester Bowie, Don Moyee, Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Joe Henderson, Eddie Moore, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Whitherspoon, Ernestine Anderson, Dizzie Gillespie, Roscoe Mitchell, David Leibman, Odeon Pope, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, John Scofield, George Cables, Branford Marsalis, Ralph Pena (bass from Clare Fisher’s Band), John Lee (bass from McCoy Tyner’s Band), and many more. Boasting a 5th Dan black belt in karate, and formerly having a day job as a private detective, Ermoll has always been a character, within and beyond his music.

Serge you crazy mutha F*&^%$#, we will all miss you and none more than me with the crazy and often out there emails that I would get along with the non stop love of life and music that was Serge. He would not suffer fools and very few do. He was known for the occasional loud expression but over the years he mellowed to become a mentor and great friend.

He will be sadly missed by his loving partner Helene, his daughter Tatiana and his son in law Geoff .

For those of you that knew serge you can email our office to for the funeral arrangements. We will be celebrating the life of one of the worlds greatest cool cats that the genre of Jazz has ever known. Peace my friend and love from all at Blue Pie to Serge’s family.

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