Jamming at the Lunatic Soup Lounge: Despatch from the Colonel

The Jazz Jam at the Leinster Arms Hotel on 31st of January 2016 had an improved attendance, with a better spectrum of people who claimed to be musicians who played or tried to play various instruments. There were not just singers and drummers who are really the people who hang around with musicians. Early on in the proceedings the standard was dragged down by this scribe sitting in on drums.

Many songs of Pre Swing era antiquity were trotted out despite protestations from this scribe. Jazz has moved on, Miles Davis went electric and freaky, Weather Report hired Jaco Pastorius and Charles Mingus never got a nice friendly lift music Kenny Gee kind of attitude about anything, but alas some people missed that and keep missing it. Well ignore what happened after 1933 at your own peril I say. That was also the year Hitler came to power.

The highlights were thin on the ground as most material was duly mangled and turned into a what V Line call ‘quality’ and ‘punctuality ‘ , but Alex Jarosh on Guitar playing “Stella By Starlight “ was almost something that resembled jazz music . The vocalists included : Chris Manetta (vocals) who put “ I put a spell on you “ through the Jazz jam blender with Bruce still impersonating a drummer; Kevin the bespectacled warbler who thrives on skipping multiple bars of music (if this is an act of kindness then we thank you for getting it over with sooner rather than later); Jill who was backed by Marek and yours truly on drums and electric precision bass respectively and made “ Cly me a Libber” ( the tired old Korean karoke standard) more interesting than usual. Thanks to Mark who came down from Castlemaine (smooth vocals) and the other warblers ,scatting groovers and crooners who stepped up.

Pianists included : Ted Woollan; Sam Izzo ; Gentleman John Curtis ; Adrian of the The Elwood Blues Club. Reeds and “blow in one end and hope for the best” kind of instruments were played by Captain Chaos, who ignored the “ Chameleon” form and finished the song on the 2nd time around thereby avoiding the the coda instructions on the chart; and Keef on saxophone. Uncle Jack Morris played some neat trombone. Playing Music keeps you young. It uses the brain in ways that are a healing force, although those of us whosometimes listen may be more scarred than healed.

Newcomers… plenty responded to the ad. placed in that teenage heavy metal cyber space positions vacant kind of web page “Mel band”. These included : First timers Tim ( busy double bass); Matt , the extroverted 3 pot screamer who played over other people’s singing and solos and should have stuck to that. Try the ginger beer next time. Rob Lewis, silver haired guitar God, Bass player Peter with the pony tail,who played electric bass in the trial by fire that is often the sink or swim initiation at train wreck central, Mauricio (guitar) from Chile, with the lovely Anita – the first Chilean musos that I can remember at a jam.

As the last month of summer appears, and we grow older but only marginally wiser, we can but hope for more music to be heard at the jazz jam next week, or settle for what happens instead. You will have to bear witness to these crimes against music if you wish to report them to the relevant authority.

The next Jam Seesion is on Sunday 7th February, at the Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood, from 4 – 7.30pm

What if they held a Jam Session, and nobody turned up? Well, that was a bit slack….

I have no clue what went on last Sunday. No matter how hard I tried, I simply could not hear the Jam. The Sydney wedding went well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or whatever, apparently there was not a lot going on… and I am indebted to the Captain for this week’s review, a masterpiece of understatement, journalistic brevity, and quite possibly some unique spellings. At least the lads made some noise. Must do better next week..

Sunday Jam

It almost didn’t happen

No keyboard or bass players in sight. Cancellation was on the cards when Fermin Navasecues arrived with his guitar. Finally a lone chordal instrument to accompany 6 drummers, 4 singers and 3 saxophonists . Paul, Mike Bruce Glen Anne and Greg provided the beat. Maria, Kevin Chrissie and Anne sang a range of great standards. John, Peter and myself added the horn sounds. A big thanks to Fermin who tirelessly strummed his way through around 20 tunes for over three and half hours.

Not your usual correspondent

The next Jam Session is on Sunday 31st January, we will all be back on deck (assuming we can get back from Castlemaine, and/or bush bashing, in time) , nobody will turn up, and we will have a great old afternoon of ballad bashing, blues bungling, bossa mangling, vicious but genteel gossip, and the occasional infusion of social lubricant.

See ya there?

The Albion is Vintage Hove

by Lou Glandfield

The Albion is vintage Hove. Dark and heavy on brass, flock and brown varnish, the pub can’t have changed much at all in the past fifty years. This extends to the afternoon drinkers, few of whom look as if they’re under seventy-five. They include a man who walks with difficulty and who once backed Billie Holiday on trumpet. He didn’t think much of her then and still doesn’t. They are here this afternoon to listen to the superb swing guitarist Piers Clark. For the past thirty years, Piers has scraped a living largely by playing gigs much like the one today in the Albion.

Continue reading

Bob Vinard

I first met Bob at the old Dizzy’s Friday Night Jam Sessions. He was painfully thin, and appeared to be subsisting on a diet of white wine and very little else: in turns eccentric, colourful, humorous, optimistic and irascible. As a pianist, he had a sense of rhythm and a touch to be envied. He could play a mean half stride.

I cannot recall him ever playing at the Glasshouse, Scarlette Bar, La Pena, Ramage or Royal Standard jams, but he became a regular again once we moved to the Leinster.

He had moved into new digs in Windsor, and generally cadged a lift with Frank, Debbie or Anne. Never played more than three tunes in a row, never wore the same tee-shirt twice, collected watches, most of which were only correct twice a day, and took coffee with six sugars.

For quite a while, I picked him up from Windsor each week. And every week on the way to the Jam, the conversation would be the same. How was I ? (turn left into Commercial road), could he cadge a cigarette? (turn right into Punt Road), did I remember this or that tune?(he’d sing it going down Punt Hill) a brief discussion of what book he was reading (always about Jazz) his plans for getting his Hammond Organ from wherever it was. Once onto Hoddle Street, he would get on to stories from his past, most of which would surprise a few Jammers, and none of which should be repeated.

I am told Bob went out for a walk last Thursday, got home, sat down in his chair and went to sleep. He did not wake up.

Bob Vinard

Some reflections on where we went wrong in 2015, and some Aims for 2016…

Where did we go wrong? Almost everywhere, that is what Jam Sessions are for.. a little healthy bar dropping, a touch of polyphony (hah!) and almost everything sung, swung and warbled out of tune, all washed down with a cooling draught and some scurrilous gossip. Sunday arvo as it should be.

Highlights of the year?
34 musos playing at the Captain’s 70th birthday. This was the biggest Jam of the year, but we regularly went over 25 musos, and the standard of music grew disturbingly high on occasion. We can fix it…

Some hot sets by Clarke, Clark, Ish and Allen, Yarosh, and a bunch of others. Al Herman (trombone, US) a standout – didn’t mind slumming it with the rest of us, and never batted an eyelid. A whole bunch of new musos (as well as the regulars) fronting at the Jams – I haven’t counted how many, but the e-mail list keeps growing.

A great weekend at Wangaratta. If you can get to the next one, do it – you are guaranteed an “off-Festival” spot – this year we played at the Bull’s Head, and the Craft Market. Fabuloso.

A huge weekend at Castlemaine: performances by a lot of regular jammers, some former jammers, and 275 musos in all. Registrations should open in January. And around 20 of the 55 volunteers last year came from the Jammers ranks..Thank you, thank you.

Some great nights at the Laika Bar (and some pretty quiet ones…) Kind of miss grumpy Boris, you never knew if you were going to get paid or fired with slightly extreme prejudice. I can remember over 30 different musos from the Jam sessions getting a spot – and more to come.

Aims for 2016

· Stay disorganised

· Play a whole session of be-bop tunes, but only if Colonel T isn’t there

· Finish Little Sunflower in less than 15 minutes. Roundup works well.

· Cut down Miles Davis Four to Three (economy drive)

· Have a whole session without Autumn Leaves or Summertime. Nah, that’s not going to happen..

· Have fun. Yup.

And finally, the Newsletter. Always fun to write, and I hope we have insulted every body equally, or preferably not at all.

Thanks particularly to the ‘steemed editor. Can I have pay rise, grovel, grovel?

Good, but it won’t last…

Miss Hortense has been a little off colour of late, sitting at her window (broken) and staring wistfully at her tattered parasol, acquired from a second hand hairdresser in Altona West, on the off chance that Rotten Ronnie Junior would lose all interest in his saxaphone, and take her for a stroll instead. RRJ, as is his wont, would, of course, do no such thing.

But I digress… what a strange sight greeted the casual observer of the Gold Street Gossip Shoppe and Tea Rooms this week. Aside from a few familiar faces, the joint was populated with a whole bunch of newcomers – Amanda and Andrew Beveridge on guitar, Peter Garam on piano, Shimona the CSP (*) on tonsils, and , all the way from Iceland, George Bjarnason on bass. We were not totally convinced that George had really come all the way from Iceland just to get to the jam, but it could have been the case.

An opening stanza from the redoubtable Gentleman JC, a cameo from Bob, Lisette later on, piano well served. Of course the Captain was there, along with Peter and Keef to sax things up a bit, Lee to add a bit of trumpet minuetto, and the Haircut and Ivan the Terrible attempting to raise the tone a bit on bass… oh, and the Debster bubbled through the door and bounced around a bit, as the Debster does.

All in all, 27 musos fronted for a busy session, and, casting the cares of the world to one side, launched into a fine old afternoon of music making. Colonel T held up the percussion side of things, before reverting to the Ibanez, and singularly failed to cock things up more than just a tad. Even the unmentionable Jack Jack, (**) was to be heard copping a sly trombone solo every now and then. Chrissie warbled, Bruce shuffled, and all was well with the world for an hour or three, as it should be.

Wandered out well stuffed, and satisifed that the Jams, as often before, have suddenly taken a turn for the better…

Which won’t last, of course, but why not drop in whilst the going is good. See ya next Sunday?

The Sunday Jam, every week at the Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Colliwobble, from 4.00pm until we knock off around 7.30.

(*) CSP = Chinese Singaporean Princess. Damn, she was good!
(**) Apparently, we forgot mention Jack last week, so he gets a double mention this week, or he is threatening to sulk. Again.

Not a bleedin’clue… and Christmas is coming

Wandered into the Gold Street Gossip Shop at the unappointed hour, listening to the early birds warbling their way through a toon or three. Settled into a comfortable spot, as near the bar as possible, and as far from the noise as I could decently get, without appearing unduly disinterested. Several of the regulars appeared to be in fine form, and one could go so far as to say that one or two of them were even playing in tune, although I would not hazard a guess as to with what.
In time, I got up to play and a pleasant old mess it was. We trotted out some old toons, some new, and to Colonel T’s disgust, no Coltrane, at least for a while. He worries about that sort of thing, but the truth is, we regularly play Coltrane tunes – he just doesn’t recognise them, and fair enough too.
It must be said that, given there were only 15 or so combatants on the day, this was one of the quietest jams for some time; and the standard of playing did not, mercifully, reach the heights to which the last few jams have left us accustomed.
All of which means two things:
(a) We didn’t scare off any tyro. Indeed one pianist from the Sedergreen stable got up and made a pretty good job of Blue Bossa. Hopefully, inculcated with the S Sedergreen philosophy of “learning on the gig”, he will return.
(b) You can pretty much bet the sheep station on the Jams arcing through another great series of musical adeptness any day now. We are nothing if not consistently inconsistent.

Meanwhile, this Jam left us mystified – played, had fun, never really hit the heights.. the reason?

Not a clue!

The Sunday Jam, every week at the Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Colliwobble, from 4.00pm until we knock off around 7.30.


Humphrey B Bear, Pluto, Kylie Minogue and Mike Hirsh on drums…All names have been changed to protect the innocent…

Christmas is Coming: The Jammers Pre-Christmas Luncheon and Jam Session Deluxe is on the 13th December – be there!

When wasn’t CHristmas coming, I wonder… anyhoo, it is that time of year again, and the Melbourne Jazz Jammers annual Christmas bash will be happening on December 13th. It is rather hoped that a few of the regulars will turn up for lunch at 1.00pm, and stuff themselves sufficiently full that they are unable to get up and leave in haste, when the music starts at 2.00pm. We should fall over from exhaustion around 6.00pm.

The entire debacle will take place in the Atrium, at the Leinster Arms, and Glen is hoping to be able to open the doors onto the street, so we should manage a bit of tempo disturb de neighbours

If you haven’t been to the pre-Christmas Bash before, this is the one time of the Year when a whole bunch of Jammers get together, tell exaggerated stories of past deeds and play some extremely raucous music, possibly quite badly, although the last couple of years have seen some great music played. The Good Captain, as ever, will disorganise the entire bash, and the rest of us will insist on everyone getting up to play – even if this is the only Jam Session of the year that you attend. We even had one long time Jammer fly down from Newcastle for the event last year, although if you know Newcastle well, you will probably understand why..

Stick it in ya Diary!

Another Sunday, another Jam Session

There have been around 1,100 jam sessions since the Dizzy’s days. We ought to get it right soon. One might surmise that several peeps turned up for this week’s Jam, played several toons quite well, murdered a coupla standards as you do, in honour of the lugubrious Belgian’s 100th birthday, and then left with that sinking feeling that betokens another Monday fast approaching. One might be right, but as I wasn’t there, I could not say..

Brussel’s answer to the sprout, Adolphe Saxe did indeed turn a hundred this week. He has much to answer for, but has done very little of late, on account of being dead.. He could have had the decency to stuff Eric Dolphy’s soprano sax with pate de foie gras before he shuffled off the mortal coil, but singularly failed to do so. Amongst his many achievements, he managed to send Belgium’s first hearing aid company broke, by practising on his soprano sax. Sales plummeted, as most customers preferred to be deaf.

Little has been heard from Mme Hortense of late, although she may have hovered briefly in the back bar of the Gold Street Gossip Shop last Sunday. She has recently broken it off with Rotten Ronnie Junior, whose second saxaphone harmonies at Madame Trixie La Belle’s Altona West Academie de Danse have taken on a consequently rather joyful tone, much to Hortense’s chagrin. The Stuffed Parrot remains deathly silent, hardly surprising since in burnt down in 1963, and will not re-open until the West Altona Progress Association consents to its new rooftop terrace, or learns the meaning of irony, whichever comes first.

Rioting in the street, the Americans are coming, commotion in the back bar, and Chaos does his nut

Not really, but in truth, we had suspected this one might be a bit special – Trombonist Al Herman had promised to turn up, and he did: and he brought with him the impeccable Rory, his ageing sidekick Sir Roger De Coverley, and, as if that wasn’t enough, the unimpeachable Ade Ish, and even Chelsea on drums, reprising her Friday night sesh at the Laika,, along with Firman, Tom McGlinn and Ben (guitar), young Alan Richards (drums), Kevin and Katerina (vocals).

Steve bassed along with the best of them, with Anton the jazz arriving just as he was wilting from exhaustion. Added to the mix Chrissie Manetta, Bruce on drums, South Australian interloper Sophie on sax, Julian on flute, Peter Cole on sax, the Calamatta, sans I think chapeau rouge, Tom McGlinn on guitar, David Nole and meself on keys, and you had a right old schemozzle, which ran all afternoon.

A great session, some disturbingly good jazz being played, and this was one out of the box. Hardly a dud amongst that lot, although I did my best to lower the standard when I could, and probably succeeded on occasion.

Ya missed it? There is always next week…

The Sunday Jam, every week at the Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Colliwobble, from 4.00pm until we knock off around 7.30.

On Improvisation, and Jam on Sunday

Friedrich Nietszche once famously remarked “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Of course, I have no idea what he was banging on about, but I am unreliably informed that he may have been in the plastic wrapped lettuce section of Coles at the time, and would have been better off at the Lunatic Soup Lounge last Sunday, where the good, the average and the delusional neatly collided at around 4.39pm. for a splendid little session de jam.

It is a little known fact that, Nietszche, who detested Klezmer, once took up the pfennig whistle after hearing Adolphe Sax trading fours with a boy scout from Brussels. This is, of course, little known, mainly because I just made it up…

But I digress. The Jam Session, yes, it is all coming back to me now..Jam Sessions thrive on improvisation, coupled with desperation, inspiration and a good slap of mistakes. And last Sunday’s was one such, it would seem, The arvo kicked of with a set from Gentleman John Curtis, purveyor of fine toons to the gentry, with Noel and the Captain on saxophones, and I can’t quite remember who else. Two new drummers turned up – Steve, all the way from Euro, and Mike both on the money, the Debster got up and sang, with Bob on piano, then Katerina Myskova put in a coupla fine numbers, the Hirsh on drums, Mr Lole amusing himself at the eight ball table and getting up later, Colonel T I think, Ivan the terrible, Chrissie and Bruce and a bunch of others, before I left – the final tally stood at 22 musicians, all marvellously talented, young good looking and in most cases delusional.

And imrpovisation, or omparvosition as it is sometimes called? Well, if you can tell the difference between that and a muso just being plain lost, then don’t – you would be wasting your time in this fine company. Or just make it up as you go along.

Twas bigger than Ben Hur

The Captain Chaos Birthday Bash started in a hurry, and just kept getting busier and busier. It was the biggest Jam session on record. Only we didn’t record it, which is possibly a good thing.

We passed the previous record just before 7 o’ clock, when jammer No 34 got up to croon Happy Birthday to the Captain – Brigid De Neefe leading a massed choir of the Debster, Maria, Mme Sonia, Chrissie, Rachel, Kerrie, Lisette (possibly) and Julie. Croon is possibly an inapt description of the rendition, but it sent the Captain off to a fine dinner with relatives, friends, and jammers in the Atrium.

So… quantity, for sure, but what of the quality? Not that the defining element of a good Jam Session is necessarily quality, but with the likes of that bounder Clarke in bristling good form, Alex Yarosh possibly shading Tom on guitar (but only just), David Lole and Sam Izzo leading the charge on keys, with Bob and meself grabbin’ a couple of toons each, the Hirsh, M Sebastien, Bruce and Alan Richards slappin’ the skins, Kevin croonin’, Taariq his usual self (bass and then drums), Lisette and Julie having fun as a duo, Agus sublime, Tony, Ali, Keef and Peter Cole on sax, Terry trying some nice guitar, as did the original lounge lizard Ray Hood (happy birthday to you also!), Richard a newcomer on flugel, and his mate Bill so bemused he actually didn’t play trombone, Benjamin who flew in from Berlin to play guitar (hope he can’t afford the return flight yet!) and Doug Kuhn and Anton holding up the bass end of proceedings with Ivan the terrible having dropped in without so much as a violin, so he didn’t play, nor did Trev the harp (sorry Trev!),

…the quality was up there with the best.

You will have to go back and read that sentence again.

Should be dead quiet this week…

The Sunday Jam, every week at the Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Colliwobble, from 4.00pm until we knock off around 7.30.