The Jam Sessions: People are not taking this seriously…

I really thought I might get there early, but as usual, spent too much time thinking about it and turned up fashionably late… and as per the previous week, there seemed to be an awful lot of people in the room, some, admittedly, more awful than others.

The Lunatic Soup Lounge is a strange venue in many ways, and one cannot really be sure what attracts people to turn up and play jazz – clearly a lot of the newcomers have yet to develop the deep appreciation of the total unmitigated cock up that is at the heart of the jam sessions – yet again there were some rather good musicians throwing their metaphorical hat into the ring – and we are in real danger of playing some good music. If we do that, what would be the point of turning up the next week – there is nothing as predictable and dull as getting things right, unless you include Littel Sunflower, which, mercifully we did not, this week at least.

Maintaining a low standard has worked for the last 24 years, why change things now?

Amongst those not striving for an abysmally low standard of excellence were:

Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (well, he strive a bit) , Gentleman John Curtis, Calamatta the red beret, Alex Jarosh (good grief, has it come to this?) Bridgette De Neef, Talev the drummer, Ivan the terrible, Doug Haircut kuhn, Sebastian, Keelie, Noel the saxflutophonist, Mr Hirsh esq. on drums, Peter, Charles, Don the keys, Gerald drums/piano and ponytail, Vincent bleedin’ good on bass, Anton, and the inscrutable Chico on guitar… plus a bunch of others too horrible to mention.

Captain Chaos was so organised he has gone to China for a few days to recover, and some of us will be in Castlemaine. Luckily, the Debonair Mr Curtis will be leading the choir this week – if he gets too posh, just ask him to play Mas Que Nada

Drop by and contribute to the weekly debacle – you know it makes sense…

The Ade Show

aka The Leinster Arms

Ade Ish turned up with a bunch of mates from Sydney and put up a lively set featuring the electronic saxaphone (Adolphe turning in his grave no doubt). The Captain wisely retired hurt at the first opportunity, leaving Sub Lieutenant Kuhn to the mercies of some funky little numbers…

There followed a pleasant afternoon’s ballad mangling in the finest traditions of the Jammers – amongst the mangled bodies that littered the carpet by the end of it, I detected the corpses of Little Sunflower, Mercy Mercy Mercy (that one played so slow it would have sounded better backwards..) and an experimental rendition of Moonlight in Vermont which left both singer (Kev) and musicians (Debonair JC et al) confused, bemused and enthused in equal measure.

There was a good turn-up of musos, (21) with the following pleading guilty, as they should: Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (actually, he played rather well) Bruce, Chrissie, Steve (drums, pretty smooth), Ivan on the hooge double bass, Lisette (p), happy birthday by the way, Carlton (bass) Chico (g), Debbie, Gerald (D and P), meself and Ian (g) on a truly lame version of Song For My Father, cheap at any price, and young Alex (drums) and John (p) rounding out the night. A slightly nervous Keelie got up and sang for the first time in years, and we hope she does it again.

And then we all had Glens Fat Chips and went home, or something.

Meanwhile, avid readers of this august journal will have spotted a missive from the Divine Miss Smith, last seen lurking around sailors in Northern Climes. One can only appreciate her decision not to go swimming in the sea because of sharks – some of those creatures are of a nervous disposition anyway, and this would only make it worse.

The late Miss Smith (well, she has never turned up early) has clearly been drinking too much of the jungle juice as she appears to be under the impression that Hortense is accompanying her – had she been asked, and she may have been, one feels sure that Hortense would have declined on the grounds that she never goes north of Altona – other than the attempted congenial visit with Rotten Ronnie Junior, although that ended badly due to Hortense’s limited understanding of English, and Rotten Ronnie’s unfortunate accident in the Ballarat region.

But I digress: do turn up for a little Jam Session next Sunday, we will all play in tune, bars will not be dropped, the saxaphones will never play more than one chorus, and then only after everyone else has had a dip, we will decline to play Watermelon Man, Autumn Leaves, Summertime, Caravan and, with any luck, the woeful Little Sunflower, and the charts will all be right way up, and… well that might all be an exaggeration, but turn up anyway!


The Jam Session Review: One would think not…

Captain Chaos, scourge of the Calder, lead footed back from the Castlemaine Jazz Festival Committee meeting, in time to acquire fond memories of the jam session: which was , as ever, spiffingly inconsistent, prone to outbursts of music in between the trainwrecks, and populated by the usual crew of competent, incompetent, delusional and maladjusted musicians, all of whom had a triffic time, welcomed the occasional nervous newcomer, danced on the tables, indulged in outrageous and occasionally malicious gossip, all of it untrue, except for anything to do with Hortense, about whom one can never be certain, according to Madge, anyway.

If anyone has gained the impression from the previous para that I might not have been there, they would be right. Probably accounts for the reported high standard of music.

Jam Session gets hot:

It was with some pleasure, and a wet winter wind whipping round my ears, that I stumbled upon Ye Traditional Jamme Session, already in full swing – not literally of course, because they were playing a 12/8 rock beat, in defiance of the laws of Mathematics, probably.

And quite a jumble of jazz musos there was: the usual culprits, a couple of in-patients on day release, some confused passers by and several people masquerading as musicians, and…

The Captain, Tony and Calamatta on sax, Chico on guitar, Kevin and then Rachel Camarino (check out her photo on Facebook) singing, The Debonair JC, John and Don on keys, Colonel T (retd) of the Fourth Light Punjab Cavalry on everything, Piers, Alex, and Glen on percussion – including the new snare drum, which made all their mistakes sound better. I can’t quite remember who played bass, other than Carlton, for whom too many notes is never enough – great to see him back. There were others, but I wasn’t paying attention. They were quite possibly brilliant.

Highlight of the afternoon was the rendition of The Flintstones Theme Tune (Captain Chaos called that one in a rare moment of sanity), whilst the audience engaged in dark gossip and toe tapping in the back bar.

One of the better jam sessions: it got hotter as the evening wore on. If you haven’t been for a while, drop in and blow the tits off ya fave toon.:

Enthusiasm essential, charts a bonus, performance anxiety optional, and competence to be well concealed as a kindness to others…


For those of you who either cannot sleep, play 3rd trombone in Rimsky Korsakov’s Piano Concerto in C#minor, or are remotely interested in the future of the music “business”, here is an extremely well researched article worth a read…thought provoking stuff on the changes in CD sales, streaming music services, concert revenues and the like.

. . . more info

Jam Session: A reflection on the state of play

A surprisingly louche little jam session this one. I say surprisingly because I have no idea what louche means.

It was good to catch up with Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse, back from the mountains of Spain, and to listen to the delicate strains of the Lunatic Soup Lounge Pit Orchestra and Choral Ensemble as they wafted their way through a variety of mid twentieth century disasters, rendered barely unrecognisable by the occasional foray into the sequence of notes that their composers had intended.

Captain Chaos marshalled the troops, sent them up several wrong turns and came out smiling. Grant (saxaphobe) rather wiped the floor. The Divine Miss Smith was in fine form (Grade 4, where she spent the best three years of her life). A succession of rock drummers, Il Duce, Bruce and Spike took turns in subverting the paradigm, Chrissy Manetta sang, the Keef was there, Sam Izzo, Gentleman John Curtis and Don played piano, Ben Stewart guitared I think, Doug Haircut Kuhn carried the bass a la stick for much of the arvo, and a whole bunch of others joined in from time to time.

All in front of an audience that was the most part, sensibly sticking to the chips, and alternately lightly bemused and lightly medicated.

See ya next week?

The Lunatic Soup Lounge Sessions roll on,

Last week, Doug, The Captain and meself swanned off to Castlemaine for a lively jam with Ade Ish, Chelsea Allen, Kirsten Boerema and the usual lunatics. Did anything happen at the Gold Street Gossip Shop? Did any one bring a chart, did anyone read it, did it all end in a magnificent shambles way past my bedtime, was Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (retd) still stuck up a Spanish Mountain, were there any Merchant Bankers there?

The answers are as follows:

· Yes, something did happen at the Gold Street Gossip Shop. Society is to blame

· Possibly, someone did bring a chart. It was probably unrecognisable by half the musos there, unreadable by another half of the musos there. And the other half can’t count so it didn’t matter anyway.

· Yes someone did read the chart. Toothless Ernie of the polished pate in the front bar. He spotted 12/8 on the first line, considered these to be reasonable odds, at least where the Doomben Donkey Trots are concerned, and can now afford to drink somewhere else. Thank you.

· Yes, of course it all ended in a magnificent shambles. It probably started out that way, and why would you want to change anything.

· Yes Colonel T etc.etc. was stuck up a mountain. Regularly. But I understand he has since come back down, clutching seventeen new instruments all of which he can now play with his customary facility. Welcome back Mr T, we missed you!

· Yes, there was a Merchant Banker there, and we are deeply indebted for his record of the event (see below). This factual account may seem rather dry to you, but JC assures me it most Merchant Bankers would find it hysterical

None of which tells you what happened. Gentleman JC to the rescue, advises as follows:

Good roll-up at the Leinster on Sunday – vocalists (Kaitlyn Fearne, Louise Love, Christina Manetta), guitarists (Chico, Ray Hood, Taariq), bassists (Ivan Sultanoff, Anthony Pell, Sam Heeley, Anton Tobim, Chico’s mate/brother), trumpeter (he comes in sporadically and likes Miles Davis), saxophonists (Tony Wharton, Keith Hughes, John Calamatta), drummers (Chris, Glenn, Taariq, Bruce) and pianists (Taariq and I). Taariq obviously was quite versatile. And Marg came along to listen. I’m sure I missed a few.

Sounds good, wish I had been there!

The Leinster gets a little crowded…

July already! You can never tell, and in Hortense’s case probably wouldn’t, but every now and then the Jam session goes through a quiet sea change – for the last couple of weeks, new faces having been popping up all over the place, mainly singers, bass players and saxophonists. Which is always a bit of a risk, because they tend to come attached to the idea that we might be playing music, possibly of the jazz persuasion, and assuming that someone is in charge, when in truth we are just counting up to four and a half and then following the Captain through his unique variations on whatever obscure tune has taken his fancy.

Chaos has been at the wallpaper all week, or the floorboards or something, doing a bit of renovating – inspired, quite possibly, by watching a surfeit of Masterchef and realising that home renovation is a more feasible career change than stuffing the left nostril of an Albanian quail with a variety of spices, herbs and mince before flambe-ing the whole thing in burdock juice, or whatever they have to do to stay famous these days. faces. Yes, well there were a couple of interesting singers turned up: Caitlin and Elise, very different but both entertaining, a drummer from RSA called Francois and an enthusiastic bass player, Gary, who probably played for about three hours without a break. Until relieved by Sam(?) on finest double bass. Along with the usual suspects of course, this all made for a fine afternoon’s entertainment, although the lack of piano players was a bit limiting. Props to Bob for taking over when he could, and to Keef for doing the e-mail thing on my behalf. Some, or all will turn up again.

This week sees the duds all going up to Castlemaine, so the jam will be either dismal or magnificent. Either way, next week’s review may be a load of fictional poppycock in the finest traditions of the Newsletter. At least this week’s isn’t fictional.

Stick to the black notes, chaps, they are economically superior.

Another meeting at the Bide A Wee Home for Distressed Gentlefolk . . .

Occasionally, we receive an e-mail from some hopeful or other enquiring as to whether the Jam Session is “on this Sunday”. And have taken to replying as follows:

“Yes, the Jam Session will be on this Sunday from 4.00pm to 8.00pm. It has been every Sunday other than Mothers Day and the New Year break for 23 years. We think we can see a pattern emerging.”

This week, there were three people at the Jam session who would have attended the original Dizzy’s sessions 23 years ago. By way of an exception to one of the many rules (see Rule No 6) by which the Jam Sessions are conducted in an orderly and decorous manner, this one ran from 4.00pm to 8.00pm. And it was quite a tasty one, with a solid rhythm section, a coupla good saxes and a light sprinkling of new faces…

Stuart got up and sang, a lass played violin, her friend sang Fry Me A Liver, and John Curtis was moved to announce that he knew Mr Bojangles. Which was written in about 1947. I didn’t know he was that old. Mr Bojangles, I mean.

Quite where all the new musos come from is a bit of a mystery at times, with most finding us by googling “Melbourne Jam session”, quite a few coming from the ads we occasionally put in Melband ( and this week, three having found us on the Facebook site. Props to POCKOTL, who has been posting some ugly sights on Facebook, and improbably bad audio, possibly in the hope of scaring people off… it is not working…

Amongst the Guilty:

Captain Chaos, John Curtis, Sam Izzo, meself, Doug “Haircut” Kuhn, Ivan the Terrible, Mihoko (db) Elliott Joe (g and green trombone), the Divine Miss Smith, the aforementioned five newbies whose names mainly escape me, Mike Hirsh (d), Glen (d), and probably a few I have not mentioned.

The rules of the Jam Session

Rule No 1: Jam sessions shall be run in an orderly manner, no bars will be dropped, and the music shall be consistently harmonious.

Rule No 2: Anyone believing rule no 1 should seek urgent medical advice on the grounds that they have lost touch with reality.

Rule No 3: See Rule No 4

Rule No 4: See Rule No 3 (this was put in to keep musicians from Ireland amused for hours)

Rule No 5: There is no Rule No 5: on the grounds that Captain Chaos struggles to count to 4 on a good day, so this rule is surplus to requirements.

Rule No 6: Everything will happen as planned. Not

And don’t you forget it… See ya Sunday?

No Jam session at the Gold Street Gossip Shop and Tea rooms

All quiet on the western front…

…On account of we will all be going to Castlemaine Jazz Festival (Mark 2) this weekend.

Had a call from Glen (Il Duce to those in the know) this week. Apparently the Leinster Arms is not closing down, and he has to keep working until the fines are paid off. Which could take years, hopefully.


Some other things you may not have heard about Glen

He does not own shares in a hairbrush manufacturing company. We can’t imagine why.

Drummer extraordinary… Glen maintains he has played drums with some of the finest rock and roll groups in the country in his youth. Which we are inclined to doubt, as

(a) He doesn’t own a karaoke machine

(b) In his youth? Was rock and roll invented then?

Glen’s first session with the Jazz Jammers was on an electronic drum kit. He may have forgotten this, but we have not.

The Leinster Arms has won a lot of Awards, as one of Melbourne’s finest watering holes. But not since 2010

The Jammers started the Jam sessions at the Leinster Arms in 2010

If you do turn up at the Leinster Arms in a fit of absent mindedness (and let’s face it, that covers most of us), there may be live music this Sunday.

AND . . . The Lunatic Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood

Went off again, as it so often does. Other than that, I can barely remember what happened, the following will hopefully be of interest to 50% of our faithful readership, the other one having probably dozed off in an armchair by now..

So… Saxophonists: the disciples of the Belgian inventor played up as is their wont, ably led by Captain Chaos and his rattly bits.

The pianists were at least in part called Sam Izzo. Like all pianists he is of an intellectual disposition, unlike the guitarists, who can generally count up to their IQ without removing both shoes.

The Charts were magnificent, although POCKOTL did remark that one appeared to be upside down. She was quickly reassured that this made no difference to the music.

The Bass players generally had a spiffingly lugubrious time, and stuck to the task all arvo. Hortense once thought about playing double bass. To save money, she bought a violin but forgot to water it.

The Bar didn’t fall over, but several of us weren’t prepared to risk it and volunteered to prop it up all afternoon.

Ya wouldn’t be dead fer quids. And even if you were, slightly, you would still come down for next week’s jam, which is the last before the Castlemaine Jazz Festival.