A fact that could likely have Australian nationalists hopping around like kangaroos is that a key member of the Australian Jazz Quartet actually hailed from Ohio. Dick Healey, a Youngstown lad, started working in high school as a reed player in local bands following several years of clarinet study. By the second half of the '40s he had finished school and was on the road with dance bands, beginning with the Bob Astor Orchestra.
In 1948 and 1949 Healey was in the woodwind section of the Burt Massengale band, a link with the music scene in Greensboro, NC, where Massengale established a family dynasty controlling the so-called "general business" gigs of weddings, supper clubs, bar and bat mitvahs, receptions, and whatnot. Healey became a member of aforementioned down-under downbeaters in 1954, his own combination of alto saxophone, clarinet, and flute providing a rich front-line sound in tandem with Errol Buddle's unique jazz bassoon playing. Sometimes Healey switched to bass with this group.
Its concept similar to the popular Modern Jazz Quartet, the group recorded several sides for the respectedBethlehem label, including a collaboration with vocalist Joe Derise. Healey took charge of a pit band that accompanied various touring artists in Australia beginning in the late '50s. He was the only American musician involved with the Australian Jazz Quartet, a fact bypassed by the record company's decision to put a picture of four kangaroos on the cover of the quartet's debut release: perhaps three kangaroos and a buffalo would have been more appropriate. Gaps exist in coverage of Healey's activities since the '60s: he eventually seems to have settled in Massachusetts, where he set up his own publishing firm, releasing a book and DVD for children as well as a series of easy listening CDs on which he plays all the instruments.