Serious Jazz? Tits to that! (*)

Jam sessions in Melbourne come and go – we have lost count of how many have blossomed, flourished, faded and carked it. There should be a hotly contested prize for the serious session with the shortest life span… not that the Post would be hoisting the trophy, for at least two reasons.

The most likely explanation of the longevity of the Jam Sessions is that we have not yet got it right, do not know how to get it right, and have very little clue as to how to get it wrong, but keep trying.. Creative incompetence, BoJo (**) style, perhaps?

This week’s jam at St Kilda’s Post and Part Time Furniture Store (have you seen upstairs?) was, it could be said, on a downward trajectory – smaller than previous weeks, and musically a bit loose.

So… what, as the Curate (***) said, were the parts of it that were excellent?

The sound: just about as good as it gets. Captain Chaos has taking to adjusting the twiddly bits on the mixer, with, admittedly, disappointing results. In his heyday, the pub would have been burnt to the ground by now.

The fully engaged audience of punters, kids, hopefuls and lunatics. Most of whom, sensibly, huddle on the far side of the bar, although, to be fair, the Captain reckons that is the “sweet spot” sound wise.

The singers (fewer this week) who tend to get in the way of an extended saxophone/flute/clarinet solo from time to time. Accidentally of course, but much to the relief of the considerable number of friends they bring with them. The soloists generally arrive early and on their own. You may draw your own conclusions.

The big wind up at the end. Although not, perhaps, as good as the previous two weeks: Mustang Sally robustly and comprehensively explored. Are we going to keep the all-in smorgasbord finale of recent weeks going? We should, at least until we either cock it up, forget to do it, or accidentally play Little Sunflower (****) instead.

Mustang Sally : L-R Col,Alan, Vlad, Singer, Kay, Piers, Annie, (Malcolm) Michael, Octo
  • * “Serious Jazz? Tits to that” … a quote from one of the 322 ads we have put in Melband. We are not allowed to say that any more. Apparently “serious jazz” offends some people.
  • ** Obscure but on point reference to Boris.
  • *** The Curate’s Egg, as featured in Punch Magazine, November 9, 1895 . “Parts of it were excellent”. But of course, you knew that…
  • **** “ accidentally play Little Sunflower” : fondly remembered as the longest and dullest tune in the repertoire, this once went for an appalling 11 minutes at the Leinster. Several audience members had woken up by the time it finished.

Awards Night. Don’t be silly, there isn’t one, but if there was…

Best Violin; Huich – great solos.

Best Guitar: Octo – a bit of shredding going on, but in a tasteful way. Neil, Vlad and the Queenslander all needed more volume at times..

Best Saxophonist: Go on, sulk, the rest of you – Will was easily the best this week. Alan, Jeff, Col all placed well, and Calamatta had a hot solo in there somewhere.

Best Pianist: Malcolm managed to keep the vol at a sensible level, chose his organ sounds sparingly and appropriately, subtly drove the others to greater heights on Mustang Sally. And packed up afterwards – what’s not to like?

Best Bass: Pete and Slawie were their usual excellent selves, but it was great to see Piers back – clean bass lines, absolutely rock solid tempo.

Best Singer: This one was easy: there is no such thing as a best singer, they are all good, and if you don’t want your eyes scratched out, you will keep it that way.

So… 24 musos rocked up, mucked around a bit, and walked back out into the rain well chuffed. Not the greatest Jam Session ever, but a solid afternoon’s work all round. Train wreck next week, please, we have to maintain our usual standard (often referred to as “abysmal”).

See you Sunday?

Will and the Captain
The Andrews Sisters, possibly

Next Jam Session will be on Sunday 18th August, starting at 4.00pm

The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman Street, St Kilda

You can park on St Kilda Road (Sunday, no restrictions). Public parking is available on Bath Street, just past the Hotel on Inkerman Street. Or catch a tram if they are running, or take a helicopter, land elsewhere and get an Uber. Or walk. Or take the bus, but fer gawdsake bring it back. Or come the next week instead.

All of them Good?

Quite what makes a jam session work is an enduring mystery, but if there is a pattern to these things, it may well be emerging. Another crap day, weather wise, no advertising in Melband, very few hits on the Newsletter due to a cock up at least partly of my own making, and this week comes after a huge session the week before, all of which generally presages a drop in numbers, a lessening of musical quality, and quite possibly a visit from Hortense, of whom, more later…

The Ensembleclip_image002[6]

Long story short, 25 musos turned up, the crowd in the bar were just as enthusiastic, fairly thirsty, and a few new/old faces dropped by. We started with four bass players (Dave T, Dave NN, Slawie and Pete. Pretty good session as a result … well, at least nothing got broken and nobody died.

Highlights? Jeff turned up with a dodgy Chinese knock off flute, that sounded rather good. Laurie soloed memorably on All Blues, and Alan, who gets better every week, was his usual affable self. Singers included Aggie Smith on gardening leave, Jess trying out new material, including I Get A Kick Out of You, which isn’t exactly new, but you get the drift; Aimee struggling with young Malcolm on the piano (a reggae beat on Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? Really?); Nurul rocked it on Sway and All Blues, and a trio of newcomers on guitar, piano and vocals, all good but from which I only managed to get one email address, which I cannot read.. ..followed by Janine (God Bless The Child) and Nicole (Summertime) before a big wind up with an ensemble singing of Hit The Road Jack, which, eventually, we did.

In discussion with the Captain, we estimated over 50 musicians and singers have performed at the Post. How wrong could we be – 83 have been listed in the newsletter since we started on April 19th. Apart from early days, (such as no singers on May 17), numbers have been running at or above 25 on most weeks.

And all of them good… Hortense, who often makes a discreet appearance when numbers are down, has hardly been at all.

See you next week?

 

Total

Oncers Came again
Piano 13 7 6
Sax 10 4 6
Guitar 10 5 5
Bass 7 2 5
Drums 12 4 8
Other 4 2 2
Singer 27 9 18

And all of them good… Hortense, who often makes a discreet appearance when numbers are down, has hardly been at all.

Steve on drums, hot guitarclip_image002

See you next week?
TW

Next Jam this Sunday 4.00pm at the Post Hotel

http://stkildapost.com.au/

There is parking off Inkerman, in Bath Street (same side as Post Hotel). Tram 3/3a or 67 down St Kilda Road from the City.

New Jammers venue: The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman Street

You can park on St Kilda Road (Sunday, no restrictions). Public parking is available on Bath Street, just past the Hotel on Inkerman Street. Or catch a tram if they are running, or take a helicopter, land elsewhere and get an Uber. Or walk. Or take the bus, but fer gawdsake bring it back. Or come the next week instead. Bring the spouse. Collect double points if it is someone else’s.

Stuff Me, that was a good One!

A few stats and dot points for starters:

  • This was the third week in a row that we have cracked 25 musos. Stop mucking about, Captain Chaos is exhausted.

  • The finale for this session was a cracking Santana number, followed by “Moondance” with 12 musos up at once. Equals our biggest ever line-up. They couldn’t see the folks on the other side of the Bar, dancing…

  • If you count young Grace bopping away, it actually exceeds our biggest line-up. Grace is all of three which makes her our second youngest performer. Marley still the youngest, by a short head.

  • This week saw the smallest line-up of saxophonists for ages. Well, Jeff isn’t that small, and neither is Alan. The Captain is at least medium but you get the drift.. Come to think of it, Jeff didn’t even play his sax, only floot…Those boys had a ball, and played damn well.

  • The Captain, mortified by last week’s rhythm section taking the piss, launched into a spirited rendition of “Four” again. One of the other saxophonists scored it a 3.5. Those boys are savage on each other.

  • While the musos were playing, we “worked the room”, and gave out around 50 of the new cards. Happy little audience – we reckoned there were 80+ peeps in the bar.

  • Special mention for Kevin, who sang one of the hardest ballads going around – “Lush Life” by Billy Strayhorn. Slawie (bass) and I aged several years in the process, but it all hung together. Bravo.

  • Nicole was a first timer, jumping in on the spur of the moment. One of the best to date – Summertime and Fly Me To the Moon fairly standard offerings, but sung beautifully – please come again.

  • 82% of Annie rocked the joint to finish. The other 18% is replacement parts. Indestructible but not, it would seem, irreplaceable. Little does she know we use her as an example of how to sing, entertain, engage an audience and control a band. Quite often, she is a good example.

  • We haven’t even mentioned Kay, Jane, Yuko, Brian, Susie, Malcolm, John Curtis, Peter Garam, Lisette, Pete, Ivan and Eiji ace bassists, Neil (best guitar in ages) , Alan Richards, Steve Bray, Hussein, Andre, and Jane’s mate from Cairns. You were all spiffin’, mostly, so we won’t mention you now….

  • Jane is off to the USA, and has promised to send us all a postcard. She has also promised to forget to post it. Have a great trip…

  • Finally, we had more people than ever come up and say how much they were enjoying the music at The Post. We also had the first negative comment, so let’s not get too excited.

The Wrap: A really, really good session. Positively noisy at times, and increasingly crowded. There seem to be more people coming specifically because of the live music. Several punters thought “the band” was tight and very professional – not realising that this was a walk-up assembly of a motley crew of musos, none of whom take it too seriously, spurred on by a dedicated audience of regulars who should know better, but care not to.

See you next week? Could be a train wreck? Could be good? Ya wouldn’t be dead fer quids!

Next Jam Session will be on Sunday 4th August, starting at 4.00pm

The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman Street, St Kilda

You can park on St Kilda Road (Sunday, no restrictions). Public parking is available on Bath Street, just past the Hotel on Inkerman Street. Or catch a tram if they are running, or take a helicopter, land elsewhere and get an Uber. Or walk. Or take the bus, but fer gawdsake bring it back. Or come the next week instead. Or as well..

The Castlemaine Jam

And it don’t come in jars. The Maurocco Bar rocks this Sunday 4th August. The Maurocco was opposite the railway station last time I went, and I would be surprised it they have moved it since. 2.00pm start and a good time guaranteed.

St Kilda Road Blues – all dug up

A very quiet day at the Post, with St Kilda Junction all shook up, and the 6 lanes of St Kilda Road reduced to 1, for tram works. Half the Post (the other half) almost empty. Obviously not many of the Jammers could get a day job ripping up tram tracks, as a fair few of them turned up anyway.

Jeff warming up . . .

Quite an afternoon – Serge kicked off on double bass, and was followed by bassists Pete, Slawie, Dave the Bass, and Anton “Papa Jazz”1. They all played nicely. Frontline saxophoneezers included the Captain, Jeff, Alan West, and Laurie 2. Alan upstaged us all with an egregiously 3 great solo on “Cry Me A River” . Jess sang a neat set, with Too Close For Comfort ripping along nicely.

 

Civility was restored to proceedings once Gentleman John Curtis took over ivory tickling duties, and Alan Richards surrendered the drums to an equally rowdy Sala. Those boys were having way too much fun, as did “Carpet” Hirsh 4 after nearly throwing a hissy fit because the saxes wouldn’t play “Four” without a chart, although they managed in the end.

Alan . . . great solo

Singers… Jess gets better and better, Carol was all good fun, Aimée may have her name spelt right for the first time and sang with confidence. Kevin and Brian each ripped through a coupla songs in fine style. Later honours belonged to LilyRose and Meggan from Brisbane – they got up and duetted on “Summertime” followed by “ Dream a little Dream of Me.” Magic happens….

image

L to R The Captain, Meggan, Dave the Bass, Lily Rose and Mr Hirsh all having fun – “Summertime”

 

Notes
1. Note correct use of Oxford comma. Society is to blame.
2. “Egregiously”, as in Alan doesn’t do this too often?
3. “a good toon with which to finish” Note pedantically correct use of preposition
4. The Irrepressible Mr Hirsh once insisted on a new carpet for the drummer. We were initially offered a bucket of earplugs, several blunt instruments, and advice that could have got us arrested. He eventually settled for a secondhand carpet, and hasn’t been the same since. Or before, for that matter…
TW

Do not adjust your set…

A bitterly cold afternoon, the piano locked up somewhere, a few desultory souls wandering in. Should have been a disaster from the outset, but it wasn’t. And it all started with four saxophones, one pianist (no piano for a while though!) and then a drummer…

So it is a little surprising that this ended up as a crowded, busy sesh, 26 musos in attendance, including the many singers, all of whom would tend to sulk if we did not include them in the muso count. Apparently we scored a mention on ABC FM this week, but even that proved to be insufficient warning and peeps turned up in droves.

By mid afternoon, the saxophonist count had risen to 7, with Laurie then leaving early, after a lively contribution, Roger “the Stiff” Clark there all arvo, Jeff H playing sax, clari and then flute, Cardinal Calamatta sounding sweet as ever, Alan in fine form with Josephine, and Keef getting a decent spot to solo – this has been on our to-do list for a while, the Captain de Chaos, meanwhile, almost losing the plot – he had to fit in nine different singers, (Kay, Jane, Brian, Yuko, Annie (Every Time We Say Goodbye), Ashley de Wang, Emily (Cry Me a River), Susie and Deb). Three turned up late, and one was easily better than all the others, but I can’t remember which one. You’ll all have to come again…

We only had the one Ukrainian bass player, name unpronounceable “ДϒΗНО”. He was pretty good, and of course Pete Micevski played solid all arvo.

Slap and Rattle department well handled by Alan R, then Sala, then Mac and Hussein (great rhythm on Sway really lifted this Annie Smiff version).

Rhythm and booze: all the piano players (Peter Garam, Malcolm and meself) played piano and Ben Stewart played some mean Guitar once he had got the cobwebs out.

The Captain opined that the standard of music was as high as ever, all afternoon – and I would have to agree. The audience seemed well impressed – this week, we went round and handed out cards, chatted up the burlesque dancer in the corner, tried to persuade the barmaid to leap the counter and sing, etc.etc.

I could make all this up, if only it weren’t true.
TW

Sunday Jazz : a pleasant afternoon in St Kilda

The Captain writes…

Four regular jammers were not in attendance as they had gone up the Calder to perform at the Castlemaine monthly jam (see “Moonlighting” below). A couple of others may have been seen at the Ringwood Soiree. Despite this, the Post Jam went ahead at full steam with 16 musicians taking part.

Due to the absence of a regular pianist it was decided to rearrange the stage which was universally found to be acceptable. Then the music started. Malcolm H, Peter G and John C played the keys. Peter and David put in the bass notes and Sala and Maged caressed the skins and belted some brass.  Jeff H played soprano sax and clarinet (not at the same time). Laurie S and myself were on tenor with Alan West on alto and various percussion devices. Laurie, Jeff and Alan Alan did a great version of Chitlins Con Carne.

Marion Lustig appeared towards the end of the session and played some magical recorder. Her rendition of Louie Armstrong’s Melancholy Blues was a stand out on the afternoon/evening. With only 2 vocalists, Jane L and Kay Y with able to perform more than the normal number of tunes. Jane’s God Bless the Child was special and Kay, s up beat version of What a Wonderful World got the loudest applause of the session.

Footnote: Alan West has found a great way to get a lift home. He experienced an acute attack of vertigo at the end of last week’s session which resulted in an ambulance being called. He ended up getting a ride home via the Alfred Hospital. It was also noted by several males who were present when the ambulance arrived, that, if the two young female paramedics  were typical ambos then they would consider  trying Alan’s strategy themselves.. Seriously, all’s well that ends well. Thanks must go to Marion Lustig and Bette Nash for the care and attention they gave Alan.

Kay and Dave on bass                                         Pete (bass) and Jane                                           Alan, sitting down

Moonlighting at The Maurocco

Ah, a meeting of like minded, or feeble minded, I’m not sure which, Melbourne moonlighters at the Maurocco Bar. A cold afternoon’s jaunt up the Calder. It was a packed house, (around 100 people there, maybe more) and some fine music played. The monthly Jam in Castlemaine seems to have settled to a great afternoon’s entertainment. Hard to believe that Mauro (landlord) resisted it for so long. Hard to believe the jam once sank to just six people in the original Comma bar.

Miss Smiff, Mr Hirsh, Ade, and Alan Richards all started moonlighting before I did. Greeted by Gwynn at the door, Hannah at the helm, and a wet afternoon in the Big C. Queuing for drinks, a fine collection of secondhand armchairs fully loaded, so a standing arvo and a chance to catch up with some Castlemaine stalwarts, Norm Gray on flugel, Don de Halls Gap and Christian on bass, Valiant and Maggie on keys, and the pick of them, (if you had to pick, which you didn’t) Howard on guitar.

I have been trying to find a suitable time to get up to Castlemaine for the jam session there – thanks to the Captain and Malcolm for arranging it – a fun afternoon and a credit to Hannah, Ken Turnbull, Gwynn et al for a fine session.

Hannah at the Mic                                                                          Sax and Norm on Trombone                                
Don on Bass

Sunday Jazz : And a brief digression . . .

Arrived at the Yugoslavian Embassy to find Ambassador’s wife in a state of high anxiety, and His Excellency engaged in a complicated manoeuvre that may have involved several inappropriate farm animals, and a bitter reference to the mid nineteenth century Balkan conflict. And if you have been reading this rubbish since that was last mentioned, it is high time you got out more…

As does Hortense from time, making one of her desperate forays from the nether recesses of the back bar in the hope of more excitement than would be found on a good day at the Strangled Ferret, were it still open, which, of course, it is not. Having burnt to the ground years ago.

 

But I digress. Again.

Jam Session? Yup, that went alright. Got there to find the gear had all been put in place, so the Captain had time for a sound check and a beer. By the time we started, the pub was pretty much full, and noisy, and we ripped through a coupla instrumentals, probably more instru than mental, with Jane and meself swapping drums mid toon without in any way altering the standard of drumming and Geoff welcome back on piano. Then singer Jess took first swipe at the donkey: a neat little vocal set with “Turn Me On” a highlight.

Much noise, beer and clapping, and on we went, with saxes CaptainChaos, , Alan, Jeff, Laurie and later on, Keef. Mercifully, Sala arrived so we had a proper drummer, followed by Frank who only came to the pub for a beer, and only said he played drums for a joke. Pretty good. Max Teakle played bass then piano, Hussein and Mac alternated on drums, Neil played some brief guitar, and Marian recorded away.

 

All good fun, followed by a succession of tonsil artistes – Jane, Carol, Dayle (first up, good, thanks for waiting patiently, please come again), Judee Horin (p and v), Brian doing a Sinatra bracket, Yuko back again, Annie, unflappable, Chris (Route 66, and welcome back!) and then Susie accompanied by Malcolm back after a spell, with a closing stanza from Janine.

Jam session went alright? Actually, it was huge, 25 musos got up, noisy, fun – and we are starting to worry about how we might stuff it up…
TW

Sir Roger . . .

Sir Roger De Coverley not even slightly deceased.

Bit of gossip doing the rounds to the effect that Sir Roger De Coverley had shuffled off the mortal coil. Not so. As soon as I heard the news I called Roger Clark, who knows De Coverley extremely well, and he assured me that everything was still in good working order. Well, he would say that wouldn’t he?

 

And what of Merimbula Jazz Festival?

“Too far away, tired old format, too much trad, same faces every year, getting smaller every year.”…that was Merimbula Jazz Festival in 2014. It must be said that one motive for starting the Castlemaine Jazz Festival was as an opportunity for musicians whose budget did not stretch to the 1,158km round trip. It is rather pleasing to get reports of how Merimbula has changed, and developed in new ways..All three respondents were, overall, positive. Read on.

Sir Roger de Coverley

Merimbula was a great festival again this year .Lots of fellowship , lots of muso’s but this year there was many more big bands than usual . Some of the big bands were very very good and some were community and school bands which lacked a little experience and polish.

There were the regulars i.e. Sarah Maclaine , Ron Anderson ,Alan Richards ,Blue Tango and more . I had a group with Gavin Franklin a Dr of music from James Morrison Jazz School in Mount Gambier, Larry Kean , Doug Kuhn and we were very pleased with the response of the crowd and our gigs were packed .Gavin is a great old friend of mine and I make special mention of him as he is a tremendous player and made such a special effort to get there.There were also some very high quality bands from Canberra which were a pleasure to hear .

My only other comment is that there were far less Trad bands this year .

Alan R the drummer.

Of course, not everything was perfect – the scheduling left some musicians with lesser venues and late night spots: quite probably because those were the musicians registered with multiple bands.

Dave the bass:

Glowing reports on the venues, and the sound equipment, and quality the music (Canberra musos?). Same gripe about scheduling. The crowds were up, the weather was good and the oysters tasty. What’s not to like?

In summary, the increasing numbers coming from Canberra, and the gradual increase in big bands to offset the decline in trad bands, and a focus on younger musicians promises well for the future.