Jam Session News: It’s dropping off…

As Hortense might have said, had she been there, which she could have been. There have been some quieter weeks for the jam sessions of late – for whatever reason, fewer singers in particular. All of which creates a greater opportunity for those that do turn up, and this week’s 15 or so musos all got plenty of playing time.

The Newsletter goes AWOL. The Captain was somewhat concerned that only 7 or 8 people turned up a fortnight ago, and suggested we shouldn’t mention it, which of course we won’t. Despite our best piracy efforts from Devizes, the e-mail wasn’t going out, and as a result, the newsletter got around 300 hits this month, rather than the usual 1200 – 1500. Mea culpa.

The Lunatics take over the Asylum, again…  Doug “Haircut” Kuhn (emaciated bass), shy and retiring President of the Castlemaine Jazz Festival, kicked off proceedings and directed the traffic for a while, in the absence of Captain Chaos who was upcountry scaring the livestock or something. Meanwhile, back at the Ponderosa…

Half of Wangaratta comes to town. Possibly the good half…Ashley, of Wangaratta fame, dragged his mate Tony into the bar, and had a wander through the Sinatra songbook – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore a highlight.

Pianists turn up Last week saw a return to form, of sorts, with a couple of very fine pianists ( Tony from Wangaratta providing the swing, and Don of some fine bebop chops later on.) The afternoon started with a classic Jam Session fourpiece – two Peters (bass and piano), Il Duce on the drums and Colonel T (retd) on guitar. All good musos, but for whatever reason, a clash of styles – they certainly got better as the arvo wore on, and by the time we had encouraged Colonel T to some bebop with Don, a lively set ensued…

Singers: Can they read in Hobart? Nadira wandered in from Tassie, as you do, and was encouraged to get up for a warble. Fine singer too, although she created another first for the Jam Sessions – called one tune then sang another by mistake, which, as we were transposing without charts, made it all a bit interesting. Nice one… Later on, Rose Harvey sang an entertaining little set, by way of amusing, bemusing or confusing the growing, lightly medicated audience – seemed to go down well.

Drummers: All class for once, with Michael and Bill swapping around, never getting in the way of the soloists, or each other, for that matter. We called fours and played twos, as the Captain was absent.

Soloists: Paul (sax) lead the charge all day, Cardinal Calamatta joined in. Sweet!

One of those days you might put down as being quiet, unless you were there, in which case it would be ticked off as one of the better jam sessions. Hortense or not!

See ya Sunday?

Castlemaine Jazz Festival – are you a member?

Invitations for membership applications and the AGM have been sent out. If anyone would like to join as a member (it costs you nothing initially, but you might get involved in volunteering for the Festival).

If interested, send us an e-mail at


and we will get an application form to you, prontissimo.  Applications must be received by 25th August, so get ya skates on.

The AGM is set for 11.00am on 10th September at the Chewton Community Centre, Main Road Chewton (enter via Mount Street to park).

Lunatic Soup Lounge Blues…From the Empire of Chaos

Sunday 24th July
They came from near and far to attend the cacophony of sound Sunday 24th July at the Leinster Arms. David from Dingee (North of Bendigo) with his alto saxophone and voice. Ashley from Wangaratta, who, along with Audrey (soon to head back to Belgium), vocalised.  Even two visitors from South Africa came to listen.
Three first timers..…Adrian and his guitar, David and his amazing mini accordion, Saha on bass and Kay who played cool keys. An occasional visitor, Shannon, made the bar guys happy by singing jazzy pop tunes. Newer regulars Paul (smooth tenor and piano) and Michael (drums) added their class to the proceedings. Regulars, John (piano), Peter (bass) , Marion (recorder) Ivan (bass) Alan (drums) Bill (drums) Alan (alto and percussion), Richard (piano) and Keith (tenor and clarinet) added their expertise to a great afternoon of spontaneous and, at times, groovy jazz.
Editor’s note: Should anyone still be in any doubt as to the Captain’s ability to count up to four, check the first sentence, second para…

Sunday 31st July at the Leinster Arms

A quieter day and an earlier finish. Lots of enthusiastic performers.
Dan, Michael and Bill arrived early to play drums. Peter (Garum) and Kay played keys. Peter, Gary and Ivan shared the bass duties and Taariq played guitar. Katerina sang some fine vocals along with Kevin and Brian.  Laurie tooted on his bari. and was later joined by Alan (alto) and Keith (tenor and clarinet). Christine (vocals) and Bruce (drums)  also appeared towards the end.

Two experimental pieces that worked quiet well were Mr Magic (Grover Washington Jr), called by Taariq and an Alan West blues to finish off the day. We then handed the venue back to Glen so that he could set up for a staff function

From the usual not your usual correspondent

Jazz Is Dead?

One sometimes wonders whether a pattern is emerging in the Gold Street Gossip Shop sessions, hailing as they do from the epicentre of cultural alternativeness in the northern wastes of Colliwobble. Most weeks, we seem to start with a bout of amnesia, therefore thinking that we can actually play (and I use the word loosely, as Hortense might say) a couple of numbers in the tempo di dubious from the book of songswotColknows, before settling down to the usual fare of Autumn  66, Summer Leaves and Root something or other…

Each tune becomes more mangled than the last, until eventually we all fall over from exhaustion, pack up and go home to recover. Every week. Every week.

But not last week. In another first, I heard not a single bum note, no five bar fours, nary a peep of complaint from Colonel T (retd) about why we were not playing everything at 220bpm, in three different keys and  four different tempos not counting the guitarist, because let’s face it, not many guitarists do count these days…

Singers sang, I heard no bars dropped, saxaphones soloed so quietly you could hear a pin drop, at least from where I was listening, drummers could have been heard to murmur ” No, after you, no really, would you like me to play a little quieter?” and even the bass players would have smiled.

Damn, I was getting away with until that last remark, which is recognisably beyond the bounds of possibility. Alright, I might not have been there. Jazz isn’t dead after all, unless the Jam Session really was that predictable.

Which of course, it was not.

I’m off to the pub…



Jam Session News: There isn’t any, the Editor has gone AWOL, and the extra 3b reserve copy boy is off to the land of the long white pom…

Other than that, last week’s jam, much enlivened by the absence of Messrs Chaos and Kuhn, started quiet, stayed quiet mostly, and was rather fun all arvo.. by the time we had finished, 22 musos had had a dip, nothing got broken and nobody died…

In yet another first, we opened proceedings with a new singer, Carol, accompanied by a new pianist, Kay, and an old bass player, Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (retd). Putting tyros together is a recipe for disaster, but fortunately, none of the jammers can cook, and it all turned out rather well..

Colonel T, who gave up a promising career as a bus conductor on the No 436 to Hemel Hempstead, or not as the case may be, was still playing bass some 4 hours and 15 minutes later, having carried his bat through the whole schemozzle. Fine effort made all the sweeter by the eponymous Mr T actually playing some swing tunes properly, possibly as a joke, whilst failing to get a dollar for every time he had to play Summertime.

In between which, there was some fine sax from Paul, and Alan West, Jack Morris on his extendable large trumpet, Lisette, Geoff , Peter , and Richard on keys, no guitarists for a change, Bill, Steve, Michael and some young dude on drums, Kevin on tonsils, a cameo from Chrissie and Bruce, which elicited the inevitable “turn it effing down” from the management, and fine sets on tonsils from the Debster and Donna.

The evening ended late with the inevitable Route 66 massed choir (well, Debster, Donna and Chrissie anyway) and a final trot through People Get Ready.

Next week sees a whole new ball game. Due to a scheduling cock-up, the Editor has gone to the Gorbals or something, the extra 3 B reserve copyboy is off to see his aged aunt in Oxfordshire and Captain Chaos has run out of pencils. Which leaves Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Jazz Jammers Newsletter since 2008, deathly quiet and slightly deserted, and us all a bit stumped for how next week’s Newsletter might turn out. Maybe Madge from Altona will see to it.

Should be a corker…toodlepip!

Jam Session News: Getting better, or trying or something… and another week in the salt mines to follow…

There are many, many Jam Sessions which are carefully planned, scrupulously organised and meticulously focussed on, generally, “modern” jazz, which, for reasons which escape me, means jazz first performed by African American heroin addicts some time between 1954 and about 1966, and slavishly copied by middle class kids in Jazz courses the world over ever since.

The Lunatic Soup Lounge Session is not one of those… as I discovered when I sauntered through the door last Sunday arvo, to be greeted by the bizarre sight of Colonel T on keys and Sir Roger De Coverly, the cad, swing his black sax around, Captain Chaos having retired to the bar, his work apparently done.

Disorder was soon restored, and there followed yet another afternoon of dubious music, from the likes of Paul (sax), Laurie (“my sax is bigger than yours”), Ashley (sax, and that’s my mum over there), the avuncular Kevin (guitar), Ann (floot, and that’s my daughter over there), Billondrums when Michael wasn’t, Il Duce on drums for a while, Doug, Ivan and Peter all on basses of various types and persuasions, and later cameos from Lisette, John (piano) and Alex (drums) although in truth I had left before the latter two got going.

In summary, an enjoyable session, no great heights aspired to, or reached, but some diverse and entertaining music making along the way; and always that thought that next week, maybe, something different will happen.

It hardly ever does, of course, but the jams are sustained by a dash of enthusiasm, as little competence as we can get away with, and warm applause for someone who just got better, or tried, or something. That sort of thing can set you up for another week in the salt mines.

See ya Sunday?

Castlemaine Jazz Festival: The Volunteers have their say

Or their lunch, whatever. This Sunday sees yet another post Festival session, this one aimed at thanking the volunteers for their efforts – there were 90 people who put their hand up, and the Committee is keenly aware of how important they are to the smooth running of the Festival. Volunteer Obergruppenfuhrer Gabrielle will be in the chair, and local and Melbourne based Committee members will be there.

“There” being the Cumberland Hotel, which, amongst other things, hosts the Festival Jam sessions and hopefully makes oodles of moolah out of it all. They are supporting the bash – what splendid chaps.

Jam Session News: One out of the box

Before you know it, the daffodils will be out, the flannelled fools will be ironing a crease, and the ski bunnies will be bouncing off rocks again. In the meantime, where better to be on a cold winter’s day than sucking on social lubricant in the back bar of the Gold Street Lizard Lounge? Don’t answer that..

So, one out of the box? It was indeed. Arrived remarkably early, for me, as I was only ten minutes late; to be confronted by Captain Chaos proposing to open proceedings with a jaunt through Monk’s Round Midnight. Weird way to start the day, but it turns out that newcomer Paul (sax) had requested same, so away we went – no drummer, the Haircut on bass, and meself on keys. By the third chorus, the Captain had wisely dropped out to listen, and Paul was blowing up a storm. Young Michael waltzed in, so drums sorted for the second effort, Stella by Starlight. Even hotter, and on a tune we can normally completely bugger up without even trying. There followed 15 minutes or so of some of the most enjoyable jazz, setting the tone for an afternoon of strangely high standard. We can fix it, we can fix it…

Very few singers, all of them called Kevin, but a plethora of saxes – the Captain, of course, aforementioned Paul, Jason Chalmers and his oppo Stuart back from a gig, Peter Cole – all good, and at times exceptional. Peter took over on keys, then Lisette and John; Hurch then Alex on drums, and for once, bliss, no guitarists off the beat, just Ray Hood the original lounge lizard beating up the amp, then playing up a storm. Ivan took over from the Haircut, Peter had a dip on electric bass, and the rhythm section fair ripped through the arvo. Eventually I went missing, exhaustion having got the better of me, but the drive home gave me time to reflect on the day’s proceedings:

· No train wrecks: not one, not even close.

· Hardly any swing, plenty of bebop tunes: we only play these when Col T (retd) is awol. No one knows why…

· Some classy music: checked the address, must be some sort of misunderstanding.

Of course, next week, even the politicians will be back to normal, in honour of which we will undoubtedly be playing Autumn Leaves, and Summertime, before finishing off with Route 66.

Stay classy. And stick to the black notes, they’re cheaper…

Jam Session News: Madge, where have you been?

I saw Madge from Altona the other day – and am pleased to report that she is remarkably chipper, having taken to amusing herself by giving wildly creative answers to door knockers, phone pollsters and shady politicians, all of whom appear to remarkably keen to hear Madge’s opinion on a wide range of subjects, ask her a startling array of questions, and then leave none the wiser, assuming they didn’t really want to know about alternative uses for the Pigeon Fanciers Gazette.

And Hortense, you may well ask? She may have been Continue reading

Castlemaine Jazz Festival: The Wrap

Another year, and the wheels haven’t fallen off… far from it, this year’s Festival was the biggest yet, with around 350 musicians, 100 long suffering partners, new venues, food stalls, steam trains, a singing Mayor (I kid you not) and an enthusiastic crowd, maybe a little bigger than last year, creating a real buzz around town. The weather was as cold as a mother in laws kiss, but it didn’t seem to matter, even the outdoor performances were fun.

Feedback was better, I think, than previous years, and the standard of music was higher than ever. I mention this because apparently some people think that musical excellence is what the Festival should be about. Meh, whatever.. we all had a bunch of fun, met old and new faces, and saw some great sessions – for me, Low Down Big Band, and Open For Inspection were the highlights, the Faulder Watson Hall a better venue than we dared hope; and Campbells Creek Community Centre, another new one, rocked all weekend.

A big thankyou from the Committee to all the Jammers who got involved – musicians, volunteers, audience, the indefatigable Trevor terrorising the Calder with a truckload of gear, Ruby Rogers’ alter ego doing all the graphics, Steve setting up drums, the ageing Curtis in full nerd mode on the programme, – love all ya work!

Photos – ya mum wants one!

And if anyone wants a photograph of their band performing, Alvin is fully snowed under and you won’t get it for a week – they are selling like hot cakes, apparently.

Send us an email with the name of your band and we will get it to the Snapmeister. I have seen the rushes and you all look gorgeous….,

e-mail your details to melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com

From the Clinic

The rehabilitation clinic for the tone deaf resumed on Sunday at the Leinster Arms after a quiet week with so many away at the Castlemaine Jazz Festival.

Early on I spied Roger “vote 1 Tories” Clark with his alto saxophone, Doug “I don’t play loud LSD Funk Rock” Kuhn on bass ; Sam “too loud and I‘ll quit” Izzo on keys and new face Michael who admitted he knew nothing about jazz drumming on the drums.

I took up the guitar at the Capitano of Chaos’ behest and a few interesting Continue reading