The Annual General Meeting of the Mildly Distressed Gentlefolk of the Jazz Persuasion…

…took place, as it does almost every week, in the back bar of the probably not Royal but decidedly ancient Leinster Arms Gossip Shop and Social Lubricant Dispensary. Mostly nothing was discussed and certainly nothing was resolved, as the 6-2-5-1’s kept rolling around.

And what a splendid meeting it was, with several propositions put to the sword, the debonair Curtis at the keys, Brent (Saxaphone) trading licks with the Captain, Mike (long time no C) at the drums, Ali quietly singing, chuckling to himself and playing sax, almost simultaneously, and the wily Colonel T (ret’d) of the Punjab Fourth Light Cavalry playing some neat bass lines, as if to persuade us that he won’t break into All Along the Watchtower at any minute.

Newcomer Gill sang with increasing confidence as the afternoon wore on, Ivan and his monster 5 string bass pulled the rhythm section together and a slightly under the weather Bob nailed a coupla Gershwin’s.

Nothing got broken, nobody died, Collingwood got beaten, again, and a good time was had by all. Not a great Jam Session, but satisfying nonetheless.

I need a lie down. See ya Sunday?


Sunday Rolls Around: A Survey of Musicians

Once more unto the breach, dear Friends, or failing that, the Gold Street Gossip Shop. Due to something or other, I forget which, Bob and I turned up early for a change. The first bout on the programme was a notable tussle between the Captain’s new charts, and well, almost everyone, really. Including the Captain.

Young Clark rightly took a dim view of this, and despite suffering from a bad back incurred during a strenuous session of pulling something (on the farm, if you wish to believe his version of events) got up to establish some sort of order, if not a tenuous relationship to music, for a while.

Fortunately this did not last, and we were back to ballad mangling in no time. As there were four saxes in attendance (young Justin?, the Captain, Noel and said RC) it was not actually possible to hear any noises that anyone else might have been making, so all in all, not such a bad afternoon.

There has been a distinct paucity of singers of late, so I have checked with all the saxophonists who all assure me that singers like the saxes playing all over the singer’s solos as well as their own. Just to make doubly sure, I asked the guitarists, and they are all quite confident that singers benefit from guitar chords being played to a rhythym somewhat independent of the rest of the rhythm section, and that in fact, the said guitarists are doing every one a favour by playing as many chords as often as possible, because it drowns out mistakes. Although they would prefer it if the saxophonists could back off a bit.

By this stage, I was getting quite misty eyed at all the goodness in the room – I hadn’t realised the sacrifices that all these fine musicians are prepared to make. So I asked the drummers, and they all said “What? I can’t hear you” as drummers do, and explained that they like to speed up in the course of a tune because they can get to the end earlier, which leaves more time for everyone else.

All of which, leaves the bass players speechless.

See ya Sunday?

The Sunday Arvo Jam, Episode 304

Or something like that. Some Sundays, we arrive late, and find everyone standing around seriously thinking, possibly about playing some music, although it is hard to tell. This Sunday was one such, but if anyone was seriously contemplating playing music, they fortunately came to their senses and we had a regular jam session instead. They were all there, other than the Captain, Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Cavalry, Ivan on his electric bass (5 string, natch) Mike Hirsch, Bob and meself, and I am struggling to remember who else. Paige turned up for a late entry, and played real smooth bass, because he can.

Spent most of the afternoon gossipng, trying to persuade the recalcitrant to get up and play or sing, chatting to some Italians from Napoli, exchanging idle banter with the Leinster Arms 8 Ball extra 3B reserves team, listening to Sonia, enjoying the music and quaffing the occsional refreshing beverage, as you do.

There may well be other ways of winding down from a hard week’s work, but they escape me.

I notice Madge has been remarkably quiet of late, but she did let slip that she had her purse stolen by a young and handsome mountebank last week. Chased him from one end of Altona West to the other (it only has two ends, and its other dimensions pale into insignificance once Madge gets her dander up.) The said charlatn was eventually apprehended by a passing bicycle salesman of Italian parentage, who handed back her purse with a flourish

Whereupon Madge looked him over but once, gave a supercilious snort, passed the purse back to the theif and gave chase all over again.

It’s an old and well worn purse, but he was quite handsome….

Ifd you do come to the jam next week, stick to the black notes, they are cheaper.

Jazz Jams all over the place

It is possible, although not necessarily wise, to attend the Castlemaine Jazz Jam and the Leinster Jazz Jam on the same day. After a fascinating debrief session with the Castlemaine volunteers, and some fine playing by Ade Ish, Chelsea Allen, Doug Kuhn, Bren Hamilton with at least half of Civil Bop, I sauntered in to the Gold Street Lizard Lounge at a somewhat late hour, to find the place in full cacophony, Sevil Sabah singing (of whom more later), the Captain, Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse, the Reverend Kevin, Ali on sax, Messrs Paige, Moon and others on bass and even Ann Craig as the token musician, all romping through a toon or three. This sort of thing will never do, but fortunately disorder was soon restored and a pleasant evening ensued.

Not a large crowd, but, quite possibly, Hortense would have been hovering in the darkened recesses of the back bar, or not, as the case may be, taking in the sights whilst dreaming of karaoke triumphs long past. Or something.

Jazz at The Leinster, Sunday Arvo: Good Grief!

Bob and I sauntered in to find a bunch of musos waiting to start – quite a bizarre turn-out as they insisted on playing Jazz. I suspect Roger Clark was mainly to blame. Very thin on the ground for singers, so we amused ourselves by picking ridiculous saxaphone oriented numbahs and smoking them, one after one.

Jezza shone on piano – at 17 he is so good we had to enquire as to his antecedents – congratulations to his teacher Howard Belling for this one!

Even Mr T got a few tunes with just guitar and what was supposed to be no keyboards. He disgraced himself by trying to play both simultaneously, and whilst this had no effect upon the standard of his piano playing,the guitar definitely suffered. Ah well..

Peter Cole (saxaphone) continues to improve with age, a bit like fine wine, but not as often drunk.

So, see if you can top that this week. I doubt it!



Not Forlorn For Long!

Two forlorn drummers and an even more forlorn saxophonist waited patiently for at least 20 minutes until others started to arrive. Mr T on guitar was first so at least we had chords. Then in walked Ivan with his double bass and before long John Curtis was sitting at the keyboard and the jam was truly under way. Chelly and Sonia provided vocal variety and Peter Cole added a further voice to the reed section. Two more bassist appeared, George and Andy, And Monty and Glen took their turns on the skins. Richard relieved John on the keyboard and Anne Smith and Buddy Love vocalised right at the end of the evening. Highlight was provided by Trevor who sang 16 Tons and showed he can cut it with the best.

No Jam on Sunday Many of us and most of the equipment will be at Castlemaine. Back as usual on the 15th


The Gold Street Gossip Shop

Last Sunday’s a bit like the curate’s egg (those of you familiar with Punch magazine circa 1910 will know what I am talking about…

Last week’s jam session was a decidedly curious affair, with the now expected high standard of music, but a little thin on the ground. I always rather like these sessions, as it presages an upsurge in new talent coming along – highlights (for me, anyway) included an increasingly confident Tina on piano – if I can just con her into coming every week, she is going to real good, Fiona singing for the first time, and later Grace’s Mum, who had only popped in fore a drink being cajoled into giving it a go, and doing really well.

Grace (aged 6) was asked “Would you like to hear your Mum sing?” and, sensibly, answered “No” Despite this, a fine performance ensued, and another dream (“I’ve always wanted to sing in front of a band, but never had the nerve…) was fulfilled. I really love these moments, and I didn’t even have to trot out my-last-line-of-defence-killer-line (“Grace, if your Mum doesn’t sing, it is because she doesn’t really love you . . .”)

Well, she did sing, and we loved it…

The Lizard Lounge gets loud.. a short history lesson

Henry Ford famously said “History is bunk” and I, for one, have no clue what he was talking about. History, probably.

Sebastien, our loudest drummer, decided to break with tradition and played some smooth drums at a level which caused several glaziers in the front bar to contemplate a career change. And he swung beautifully, behind singers Chelly and Sonia. Decidely perverse, but he is French…

A relaxed Sunday Arvo, underpinned by Doug Kuhn and George on bass, a neat solo on Take The A Train from a pianist whose name I neglected to remember, Peter Cole ever improving on sax, and a fine effort at calling Fours from the Captain, who at least proved he could count to six…

This week, who knows – well you will if ya turn up, toon up and mangle a few . . .

The Gold Street Suprisarama

Having attended, at a rough guess, 276 jam sessions, I have noticed that you can often tell from the get-go whether a session is going to be average or excellent. Average being a mathematical expression that is rarely supported by fact.

I have also learnt that this is a rule much honoured in the breach. Hortense, be quiet!

Anyhoo, I would have put this one down as a meagre affair, so it was with some surprise that I counted 20 musicians as turning up, tuning in, and doing their thing. It all ended up quite classy, despite my best efforts at drumming at the outset.

Props to Sebastien, who drummed with a sensitivity that one would assume was beyond a Frenchman, to Sonya, for a couple of swinging numbers sung with elan, to George whose bass gets better and better, and particularly to Miss Hayres for singing a couple of numbers with which my acquaintance was somewhere between not much and not at all.

The Captain, after a stressful week of scheduling bands for the jazz festival, rose to the occasion, and Chameleon was a standout – even Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse ( I don’t know what happened to the other three) got in the groove, and stayed there ’til cooked. As a general rule, this is a tune that is on a par with waterboarding, watching paint dry and listening to Tony Abbott, possibly simultaneously. but rules are made to be broken: best I have heard it, really.

Ya wouldn’t be dead fer quids. Try The Lunatic Soup Lounge next week.


The Lunatic Soup Lounge… ssh!

After the lively session last week, I half expected the back bar to be packed. Turns out I was half right, but it was the other half.

The smallish turnout got to enjoy an afternoon of Captain Chaos specials – very few singers in attendance, but a welcome return from Sebastien and the ever improving Paul Phillips on drums, some bizarre musical direction from Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Cavalry, and some fine bass work from George, and young Jonah. They are both booked for Ruby’s Music Room, of which more anon.

A late entrant was the Christine/Bruce quinella, well backed and did not disappoint. Hortense would have approved, had she been there, which she probably wasn’t due to a Prior Engagement. Sympathies to the Prior.

All in all, a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and although several of the Captain’s more obscure toons did lie somewhat mangled on the floor at the end of it, nobody suffered a permanent injury, which was nice.

Stick to the black notes – they’re cheaper!

The Gold Street Gossip Shop: Absolute knockout

A quietish start to the arvo, with some classy instrumentals from Doug, Simon “getya haircut” Atkinson and John C. Sounded like real Jazz for a while, but after the Captain turned up in his Port Phillip Brass Band uniform, normal service soon resumed, and the sessions lurched from good to average to bloodyawful as it usually does. The (possibly guilty) parties also included meself, Bob (piano) Paul Phillips and Spike on drums, Ivan (bass), George (bass) Taariq (guitar) and Celeste and the Divine Miss Smith. Well, we were all guilty of something…

Later on, we tried a session with just bass/drums/guitar which successfully emptied the Front Bar as well as the back bar, even though the lads were having fun.

Finally, after most everyone had gone home, Sevil Sabah and Chelly got up to sing – with Doug Kuhn on bass, Spike on drums, meself on piano and Ben Stewart on guitar. The Captain joined in on sax later on.

Gob smackingly good. Kate Vigo (Route 66) once bowled them over at the old Dizzy’s, Henry Manetta (Cry Me A River) was sensational at the Scarlette Bar about eight years ago. There was a six saxaphone session at Ramage in about 2009 that really cooked. Given my (peripheral) involvement I hesitate to say this, but what took place last Sunday was the best 30 minute set that I can remember in 20 years of going to the jam sessions.

If ya missed it, bad luck! Be back next week.