Fourteen year old devoted trombonist, nonconformist and ex-Londoner, Alice Gordon, winds up living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with her recently widowed mother after her BBC journalist father is killed on assignment in the Middle East. Alice is resigned to the fact that she will never experience happiness again - nor will she make friends - so does everything in her power to fend off those attempting to get near her or to improve her lot in life. She is particularly repelled by boys, pop culture, meat, authority and light entertainment on the telly. Her mother, ex-BBC television news researcher, Peggy Gordon, has become a desperate, functioning drunk, who by day runs a coffee stand at Melbourne Airport and by night reverts to childhood, leaving Alice to look after her and the house.
Playing jazz trombone is the love of Alice’s life and she is totally obsessed by it. She sees it as her meal ticket out of Australia and back to the UK where she remembers being happy once-upon-a-time. Her obsession with the brass instrument results in a level of ability that rivals any other player of her age and consequently she is chosen to feature as soloist in the Victorian Bands Championship Competitions, representing her local band of Nunawading. Things are not going so well at school though, where she has been suspended for rescuing a cage full of starving lab rats. She decides to conceal this information from her mother, fearing correctly, that she might be prevented from playing in the band competitions in Bendigo.
Alice is finally caught out when she and her mother are spotted by the school headmaster at the local cinema one evening. When Peggy bans her from competing, Alice runs away from home. The following two weeks find her busking under a bridge by the Yarra river, jamming with a professional big band at an outdoor jazz festival, hanging out with Hari Krishnas, staying at a B&B on St Kilda beach and even cross-dressing.
As the road-trip comes to an end, Alice finally gets to compete in Bendigo, where she plays so brilliantly that she is headhunted by her longstanding hero, world famous trombonist, James Morrison.
Nice Playing for a Girl, is an inspirational, tragic and wryly funny adventure story. But, most importantly, it celebrates the individual. While most teenagers spend their days trying to conform, even if it’s only by rebelling, Alice is determined to be herself. In the end, this character trait takes her all the way to the top!
About the Author
Kellie discovered jazz at an early age. Her father, Don, played trombone and Kellie followed in his footsteps, later swapping to saxophone. Kellie's precocious talent saw her win the inaugural James Morrison Jazz Scholarship in 1989. Her profile continued to rise when she was hired to play on national TV every week for eight years, as part of the house band on 'Hey Hey It's Saturday'. Kellie went on to spend 11 years in London as a first-call professional for jazz gigs, recording sessions and pop acts. She also won praise for her series of instructional books, 'Creative Saxophone' (Oxford University Press). Her CV includes such names as Randy Crawford, Tom Jones, Tina Arena, Lou Rawls, Joe Cocker, Joe Jackson and Bonnie Raitt. In 2014, Kellie recorded a long-awaited debut album 'Quintessence'. This was an ideal showcase for her talents, with her saxophone crooning and wailing in front of an all-star band. www.kelliesantinmusic.com