Jim Latta has had an extraordinary life with a patch work of opportunities that he has embraced with both drum sticks. Jim continues as a drummer, comedian, vocalist, entertainer and author working regularly with musicians from diverse backgrounds, still excited by music and its wonder to entertain, soothe the soul and heal.
Jim Latta began his drumming career at 14 after winning a Gene Krupa competition on Channel 9 Adelaide.
At age 16 Jim played nightspots in Adelaide after joining a Rock 'n' Roll band 'the Keytones' and then to jazz at the legendary ‘Creole Room'. It was there Jim backed Mose Allison, the American jazz legend.
Jim became involved in charity organisations and began playing in nursing homes, jails and helping disadvantaged youth, particularly local indigenous musicians. This was the beginning of Jim's interest in Music and Rhythm Therapy.
At 19 Jim joined the Royal Military Band at Duntroon as a musician which calls for a completely different set of disciplines. It is this very regime that gave Jim the organisational skills to become the leader he is. It takes talent as a musician and people skills to play with some of histories great artists. Jim has backed artists such as Shirley Bassey, Cleo Laine, the Bee Gees, Randy Crawford, Ricky May, Don Burrows, James Morrison, Kamahl and John Farnham to name a few. Jim has performed as an entertainer and Jazz drummer all throughout Australia as well as Paris, Los Angeles, London, New York and Japan.
Whilst in America Jim conducted research into music and rhythm therapy and for a short time had the opportunity to work on Indian reservations and alternative schools in Harlem. Jim was able to extend his passionate interest in developing music and rhythm therapy to assist the disadvantaged when he was working in aboriginal communities in South Australia. Jim set up the music program at Warriapendi Alternative School in South Australia which is a mixed school with predominately indigenous students.
Jim has continued this work with a number of aboriginal musicians including Johnny Huckle and Coloured Stone.
Jim was Percussionist instructor at TAFE Brighton Campus, South Australia for 4 years. During this time Jim established a link for students from Warriapendi through to TAFE and the University of Adelaide.
Jim was keen during this time to establish a cultural exchange program between the local indigenous community and the members of the American Indian community he had spent time with in America.
Chief Roy Crazy Horse was very supportive of Jim's ideas as he believed, 'We have much in common with our brothers in Australia'.
RMC Band in Paris, Jim second from left front
During his time in Sydney Jim was employed by Centacare as a supervisor caring for wards of the state, and by Mission Australia and Anglicare, as a music therapist in aged care for 5 years.
Jim's business knowledge was honed throughout his career establishing with fellow musicians, The Music Boutique, a Music Shop in Canberra and going on to import Camco Drums and various Percussion accessories for Wholesale and Retail distribution.
Jim is also a competent teacher having taught music at the Marist College, St. Clares and Narrabundah College in Canberra. Jim also taught percussion and lectured at the Adelaide University on jazz drumming, having obtained a distinction in his first year for performance.
Jim recorded with the South Australian Symphony Orchestra on the Album ‘Film Themes’ with guest conductor from England Stanley Black.
As an Author Jim has published three drumming books that have been distributed throughout the world and translated into a number of different languages. Jim is about to publish his fourth book which encapsulates his ideas on music and rhythm therapy with an emphasis on the older generation in nursing homes and those of our society that are marginalised by illness or detention.
As a public speaker Jim is very forth right and stays ahead of the conversations that are so prolific now with the social media. Jim lectures on music as a therapy as well as bringing his skills as an entertainer forth to act as an MC at businesses or social functions.
His current bands ‘Panama Jim’ and ‘The Jim Latta Quartet’ which feature Jim’s vocals, can be seen occasionally around town when ‘resting’ from his music therapy commitments.
Jim has had the chance to record with a number of prominent musicians and can be heard on many albums. Jim's first solo project is his own Jazz album called Caravan which was recorded and mastered in Sydney.
Jim also recorded a 2 CD set entitled Sing along for Senior Citizens which he uses as a therapeutic tool in his music therapy.
Jim is currently the music therapist at Kankinya (dementia specific) Canberra.