The School Of Rorke

Ahead of his February 1st show with Rick Simpson, Daniel Rorke on how the jazz bug bit early.


I grew up on in the sub-tropical rainforest in Northern NSW, Australia, on a hippy commune called Billen Cliffs, outside the town of Nimbin. 


Nimbin is sort of the Woodstock of Australia. Shoes are banned by public order. The town is covered in rainbow-coloured murals of (presumably) psychic dolphins flying through space, delivering enlightenment and chakra balance to all of sentience. That whole area is rather unique, being extremely fertile land around the base of a long-extinct volcano known as Mount Warning – named such as it provided a good warning marker to avoid the dangerous reefs due east for early European invaders in their ships. 


It is perhaps more famously known today for being the pointy blurred thing in the background of duck-faced Instagram influencers’ selfies, taken from the beaches at nearby Ibiza of Oz – Byron Bay.


It was a good thing that I grew up in an isolated place because the saxophone is loud, and few people want to hear a teenager trying to imitate Coltrane from Sun Ship for months on end. My father is a bass player, and I used to listen to jazz from a young age. I was really into John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter as a squirt. 


Now that I have allegedly grown up I am really into John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. One time, at the local market, a sarong wearing hippy lady, likely emblazoned with henna tattoos and astrological jewelry, gave me a vinyl copy of Charlie Parker on Verve. I really liked that record, and it got me into bebop. Often, I would play with my Dad in different bands, and then a local musician from Nimbin, the very musical Neil Pike, enlisted me into his group called The Pagan Love Cult. 


I think that was the first gig I got paid for. I’ve since lived all about the world – Sydney, Norway, New York, London, Iceland and others – playing jazz, and after a conspiracy between a bat and a pangolin made life in New York difficult, I have returned to Dublin where I now get to play with the amazing musicians here and teach the pagan art of astrological jazz cultism at DCU.


We’ll try and mix a little bit of both at The Whale in February…


You can check out the Daniel Rorke/Rick Simpson Quartet at The Whale on Thursday, February 1st 2024 here:



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