The Ludicrous Arms Jam Session; Hortense goes on a diet. Madge doesn’t.

It may have been at last week’s debacle at the West Altona Distressed Gentlefolk’s Bide A Wee Rest Home Meet and Greet (apparently it wasn’t a barbecue after all) that Hortense announced she was going on a diet. After much and morose deliberation she settled on a Vegan. Nobody was more surprised than the Vegan.

It is Madge’s proud boast that she once went on a diet – she ate seven Chiko Rolls in a single session at the Strangled Ferret. As this had no discernible effect, she has since reverted to her more customary nine. Diets are, in her opinion a load of old rubbish.

Which brings me to the Jam Session. Come Sunday Arvo, at the Gold Street Dentistry Emporium and Gossip Shop, several musos were sinking their teeth into the nether parts of a wide variety of toons: starting with a debutant pianist on Tenor Madness, followed by Mercy Mercy Mercy, Boplicity, Equinox and a bunch of Debbie’s bouncy little numbers. All delivered with some panache and no bassist at all until Ivan turned up.

It actually started as a bit of a rough afternoon, but ended up swimmingly , with a surprising number of new faces in the crowd: Ken singing, a trumpeter whose name I forget, saxophonists aplenty, Chico on guitar and Sam on bass towards the end. And speaking of new faces I am not of course referring to Mr Hirsh although he was the pick of the drummers.

In truth, there were only two pianists all afternoon and one of them had very sore hands by the end of it, but a splendid session of ballad mangling, gossip and Carlton Daft.

Summer is upon us. See ya Sunday?


Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain Calls it Quits, or about 7.30, whichever comes last…

What Where When Why Wang

Apparently there was a Jazz Festival in Wang, in amongst the crowds of people milling about Reid Street enjoying the deep fried food on offer to wash down the occasional social lubricant. Saturday started wet, then blew hard, and Sunday started cold then turned delightful. I am referring of course to the peripatetic Jammers, who played in the street (dancing),  played at the Bulls Head (full) the Festival Market (9.00am start, a good crowd and good grief!) and ended up enjoying fine sets on the free stage from Agus Batara, Standing Tall and the blindingly good Ish Allen Project, before putting up a Sunday evening set at the Bull once more.

Props to the tireless Divine Miss Smith, Doug on bass and Chris LeBon, all in top form. And to The Captain and Ashley for organising the whole weekend.

Are ya coming next Year?

The missing bass, and the Captain turns up late wearing a cheap suit

Sunday was a warm day, well fitted for convivial conversation and the occasional healing draught of social lubricant. Or it should have been, when Bob and I sauntered in to the Upper Mid Gold Street Gossip Shop, we were met with… almost nothing.

As in no soloists, no bass player, no charts and not much inspiration. A desultory start to a Jam Session, although when the Captain arrived, noise was soon the order of the day. He wasn’t really wearing a cheap suit, it just gave that appearance. Such is life for the extra 3B reserve saxophones in the Port Phillip Show Band, apparently.

A few phone calls rustled up the prerequisite bass player (Ivan the not Terrible at all) and in no time, or 45 minutes, take your pick, we had started to murder perfectly respectable jazz tunes by the dozen.

Props to Christine Manetta for insisting on singing Cry Me A River in the wrong key, cheerfully expecting the band to transpose without charts. It was a memorable mess, although she did manage to redeem herself by sing Route 66 in the right key, rather well.

Really, there should be more than one trainwreck for the afternoon, but you have to take what you can get.

By the time Ivan had reduced his fingers to a mangled mess, and the rest of us had sat back with the aforementioned soothing draught or three, it became apparent that most of the problems of the world could be solved quite simply, but, on sober reflection, none of us can quite remember how.

So, we will have to start all over again, next week.

Ya wouldn’t be dead fer quids


Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Gold Street Tearoomes: scones all round

Spring, it would seem, is on its way – last Sunday being a particularly balmy opportunity for sitting outside the Leinster Arms, historic single storey watering hole to the gentry etc.etc. and watch the birds fall out of the paperbark tree with their wings tightly stuffed in their little birdy ears. Yes, yet again the jam session was in full swing, or perhaps more accurately in full bebop.

Not a huge crowd of musos, but some very good ones, had a fine old time – Gentleman John Curtis led the hymn singing for a while, Hirsh spent a few brief minutes replacing about half of the drum kit before drumming up a storm, the Captain comprehensively murdered When I Look in Your Eyes, having given a chart to the Curtis, thereby fooling said Gentleman into thinking that there was a relationship between the chart and the saxaphone playing that ensued. Then Jason (sax) got up to blow the proverbials off a toon or six in fine style.

Remarkably, there were no singers – at least until the Divine Miss Smiff turned up late (which is quite early by her standards). Doug and Ivan amused themselves playing five and four string basses respectively, Sam Izzo jumped the keys, the Captain, Ali Chico and I think Peter C joined in, Hirsh and Mark (?) traded places at the drums, and the place was fairly rocking by the time I left.

A fine afternoon’s entertainment all round. Normal service will be resumed shortly.



Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain runs out of notes

There was a Jam, wasn’t there?

Due to both the Captain and meself being otherwise engaged on Castlemaine Jazz Festival matters, I have relied on both Madge from Altona and the ethereal Miss Hortense for the following reports of proceedings…

Madge, as is not unusual, may have been soundly asleep in a corner of the back bar, having indulged in a light breakfast of three Winnie blues, some cold chips and a chipped mug full of ersatz instant coffee, before preparing herself for the afternoon with several cartons of Carlton daft and some cask port laced with brandy, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and probably still does..

Having thus attained a mood of somnolent imperturbability, she proceeded to snore somewhat rhythmically for the several hours of music to which she had subjected herself. The tempo, if not the volume, of the snoring was generally held to be a vast improvement on some of the more usual drummers.

Hortense, on the other hand, had a splendid afternoon of eightball in the front bar, followed by several hours spent picking up green baise cloth and sticking it back down with a glue stick, before attempting to light the gas log fire with the considerable amount of kindling she had generated. If anyone would like to purchase an empty cue rack, pop into the  Lunatic Soup Lounge next Sunday.

I am reliably informed by Glen (Il Duce to those in the know) that it was a quietly pleasant jam session, Gentleman John Curtis in the chair, so none of the above may be true. I can honestly say that I have never heard music played better, in the circumstances, and look forward to normal service being resumed next week.

And the Captain? You may well ask, but he has put his hand up to do the Castlemaine thing all over again, as have I, John Hannah, Doug Kuhn, Brett Willis, and five or six others from Castlemaine. Experience, they say, is recognising your mistakes when you make them again, so we can look forward to some real purlers come June 6th 2015….



Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

Jazz at The Leinster: Another first

They are putting a new road through a tunnel, right under Refinery Terrace. What with the bicycle path, relocated lamp posts, and native ecosystem reboot that is all part of Councillor Elect Dodgy Dave’s plan for a newer, brighter Altona West, Madge fears, as she blearily remarked to me the other day, whilst putting out the empties ( a box of stubbies and three sailors) that Refinery Terrace will never be the same again. Not that it ever was, but your memory can play tricks on you after a night spent slurping The Strangled Ferret’s house gluhwein in the company of unsuspecting merchant matelots.

Fortunately, these types of plan are never quite realised, as to do so would deprive Dodgy Dave of an election promise that might otherwise work for him again and again. So it is reasonable to expect that things will be much the same as before, only different.

Which brings me to the Jam Session, at much of which I was not. The afternoon was dominated, I was told, by singers. Dominated! Were they all dressed in skin tight black leather, metal stilettos and dark glasses of the uber kewl variety., and waving whips? Judging by the Captain’s enthusiasm, quite possibly.

When I eventually fronted, there was something closely approximating jazz going on, a tight rhythm section led by Doug Kuhn, Lisette tickling the ivories, Angela Strickland singing, a general air of bonhomie and quite possibly jazz cigarettes being passed around on the pavement outside.

So I spent an entertaining hour or two listening to some fine music, sipping on a Guinness and catching up on the gossip with the Divine Miss Smith, several of whose observations I am sworn not to repeat.

Ya wouldn’t be dead for quids

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood this Sunday, 4.00 until Gentleman John Curtis calls stumps, the Captain being up in Castlemaine this week,

Castlemaine Jazz Festival 2015


By the time you read this, we should have an elected Committee for the 2015 Castlemaine Jazz Festival, with a number of volunteers from the last bash already putting their hand up to do it all again.

If you would like to be involved, and the authorities are prepared to let you out of the Institution for the weekend, we are looking at June 6th – June 7th – the Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Drop an e-mail to

The Umbrella Bar: A class act

This week, Anne Hayres will be singing, accompanied by Daniel Pickard (bass), meself (piano) and the Captain, on an assortment of saxaphones, clarinets and possibly bagpipes.

You may be thinking that Miss H is way too classy for a joint like this, and you may be right, but we are all looking forward to swinging the tits off her favourite toons and generally having a good time.

Which we undoubtedly did last week, when Angela Strickland vocalled up a storm in front of a smallish audience, and Jason weaved some wonderful lines on his tenor. Scarey good!

Anne Hayres at The Umbrella Bar: Friday Night Captain Chaos Sessions: 338 – 340 Glenhuntly Road, Friday 26th September, 7.30pm – 10pm,

Melbourne Sunday Jazz? Nah, Noisy, Footy in the street

Had Hortense got up and danced, as she has been known to do, the odd flamenco on a busted table in the corner, it could have hardly lowered the tone of the Sunday Arvo Ballad Manglers weekly get together, at least for the first hour or two: a succession of cacophonous solos (in saxaphone-speak apparently, that means not less than two of the little darlings competing for attention) followed by some ill-judged attempts at a few jazz standards, with the occasional vocalist thrown to the wolves to liven things up. All metaphorically of course.

A fine day for it, and of the 19 musos  who fronted, at least half were at some stage  standing outside, to avoid the noise and watch the street footy for a while. Apparently there is something in Carlton Daft that encourages grown men to run barefoot in the street, whilst rearranging panelwork with a dusty old Sherrin. But as evening drew near, and the cold forced us all back inside, there was no escaping the dreadful racket. It had not gotten any worse, only louder. By the time Bob and I left things had got a little better, but I am reliably informed they got much better after that, and the remnant crew had a fine old time to well past eight.

Apart from the usual idle banter, malicious gossip, gentle character assassination and occasional social lubricant, it was good to see Peter Cole blowing the rust out of his sax, Kevin crooning, Gerald, Chico and the lads having a dip, Doug Kuhn (wooden bass) reduced to exhaustion, and some lively singing from Cee Jay.

So, we will probably do it all again. Except  the Sherrin bit, a cricket ball is so much more effective. Summer is coming! Yay!


Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Sunday Jam Session: Don’t play You Are The Sunshine of My Life until you have checked the weather forecast.

If, as seems very unlikely, Will (guitar), Daniel (electric bass), Bob (piano), Gentleman John Curtis (piano), Paul Phillips and Spike Tiernan (drums), Colonel Taariq (everything),  Chico (guitar), Christine Manetta (vocals), Bruce (drums), Col (chaos), The Divine Miss Smith (vocals), Sonia (vocals, but in French), Chelly (vocals but not in French), Jason (saxaphone and hat), Nicholas (Chilean saxaphone), Tina (piano), Doug (double bass and haircut) all turned up to hear me play piano, they were mainly disappointed, as I hardly got a look in with that lot all playing.

Which was a good thing, because the standard of music they produced was remarkably high, and intermittently consistent…

With one glaring exception: an absolutely splendidly cocked up version of Stevie Wonder’s You are The Sunshine of My Life. People a good deal more sensible than the assembled jammers would have called it a day at about the third bar in, retired hurt, resorted to strong drink and sought medical advice.. Fortunately they persisted, and gave us a most memorable trainwreck. Sheer bliss from start to debacle, and the audience’s collective faith in humanity restored.

Nevertheless, if Jam Sessions were all about good music, this would have been one of the best.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Sunday Jam Session: Four and a Half

Bob and I arrived about half past four, to find Ivan and Andy Moon averaging four and a half strings per double bass, The Captain calling fours somewhere between four and five beats in, the Curtis deftly avoiding the drummers of lesser ilk, Spike, Monty and the Phillips all playing drums with panache, Chico really good on guitar, and Richard taking over the evening keys after four and a half pints. Or thereabouts.

The numbers were, as befits Fathers Day, somewhat down on recent weeks, but by the time Gerald stepped up to the piano, it was setting for a session of some musical deftness. No, Hortense, I said deftness… oh, never mind.

Had the Captain and Ali not sung, all would have been disturbingly good, but character must re-assert itself at some stage, and their vocal performances left the audience remarking on what fine saxaphone players they are. The impeccable Chris Le Bon showed them how it should be done – scatting The A Train in fine style.

I amused myself by booking everyone in sight for a session at the Umbrella Bar – other than singers who were entirely absent (see previous para).

A pleasant afternoon, made exceptional, I would think, by the complete absence of train wrecks. Yard Bird Suite was so good, someone asked for it again. Or maybe they didn’t recognise it the first time, and it wasn’t so good after all?

So, four and a half hours later, they all packed up and went home, suitably refreshed to face another week in the corporate saltmine, or whatever floats your boat.

We will do it all again next Sunday, of course; and it will, of course, be predictably unpredictable.

I may be there. The Captain may be there, We may stick to the black keys (they are cheaper) and you should consider being there too.

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Sunday Jam Session: The Captain goes fishing

Experience, according to Wikipedia, consists of knowledge of or skill of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. For example, the word experience could be used in a statement like: “I have experience in fishing”.

In the dying hours of last Sunday’s Jan, the highly experienced Jazz Jammers, led by the incomparable Captain Chaos, played for the second time only, an obscure Pat Metheny ballad. No-one, neither the band, the back bar gossip squad, the Eight Ballers out the front, nor Pat Metheny, fortunately, had the slightest clue as to what they were doing.

The preceding Jam was an interesting one, to say the least. We swung through a rep of swing tunes, show tunes, diverted to a lengthy bebop interlude, had some half stride from the venerable Bob, Spike and Monty both classy on drums, Chico ace on guitar, Sam Izzo, back from Italy, engaged at last, in fine form on piano, Sonia and the Divine Miss Smith on tonsils, and an audience that remarked several times on the high standard of music. Amazing things those ear buds.

Experience, within the context of the Jazz Jam sessions, could just as well be defined as “recognising your mistakes when you make them again..” Had we finished half an hour earlier, Metheny could have remained unmolested, and we could have all gone fishing.

This week is Father’s day, so the Jam Session will be packed with confused looking middle aged gentlemen wearing hideous cardigans and clutching power drills. Or not as the case may be.

Should you feel so inclined on Sunday arvo I am sure we can squeeze you in somewhere.

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.