The First Jam Session of 2019…

… was a blast, with 27 musos getting up, and over 50 peeps in the room. We never really know if anyone is going to turn up for the first session of the year, but if this sets the tone for the next few sessions, we are in for a busy one.

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The Captain and Laurie

Amongst the highlights..

Drummers: Steve Bray, Salah, Andre, Mike Hirsh, John Perri, Dave from Indonesia and gawd knows who else. The most drummers we have ever had at a jam session

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Mr Hirsh esq., played beautifully, bitched about the sound quality

Singers: The Debster, Nancy (new comer), Jane, Carol, hell, they were all good… and Brigid De Neefe to cap it all off.

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Bassists: Pete, Anton, Kip, Bunter, Dan McLachlan, Dave. Yup…

Saxopholists: The Captain to kick off, then Jeff Harris in good form – Don’t Get Around Much Any more, Laurie Savage a blast on When Sunny Gets Blue

Piano: Meself, Malcolm turned up just as I was getting exhausted, then Lisette. What a refined bunch…

Geetar: Neil, Fermin and Dan’s offsider whose name I didn’t get, newcomer Yusuk every bit as good as the regulars.

Sound: started a bit scratchy and didn’t seem to get any better. Too loud and unbalanced. Back to the drawing board. Mike H (secret sound engineer by day time) suggested some drapes might make it a bit more controllable. Put the idea to Dodgy Dave (who, by the way, had a great afternoon) who will put it past his wife, Mrs Dodgy Dave. We listen, mike!

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Susie and Anton

In conclusion: Good start to the year!: every man and his dog turned up – and stayed. Props to POCKOTL, Rod and Bette, Susie, and all the others in the audience. We put more effort than usual into advertising (Melband), promoting (Facebook and the Newsletter) and cajoling (telephone, mainly). It was a fun and busy afternoon, ending with the Debster scraping Captain Chaos off the ceiling so we could conduct a Committee meeting for the upcoming mini Festival (I think we have settled on 7th and 8th of December 2019 ) – put it in your diary and start thinking of excuses so you don’t have to volunteer…

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Rose (sing next time please) and the Debster (sing anytime please)

With stuff like that going on, ya wouldn’t be dead for quids…

TW

73rd Australian Jazz Convention: the last Hurrah

This is Australia’s longest running Jazz Festival, and comprises musicians and audience of equal enthusiasm, with a strong emphasis on Trad jazz, and a leavening of more contemporary bands. From 26th – 31st of December, there were a pleasing number of familiar faces from the Melbourne Jazz Jammers – Col, Steve Bray, Annie, Ponytail Pete, John Calamatta, Ashley Thompson, Brian Paulusz and Keith Hughes amongst them, and some alarmingly older musos, who all seemed to have fun.

Quite a few of the 241 listed musicians played in up to ten bands. Quite what this does to the standard of music is open to question, but the backbone of the Convention is musicians getting together, learning from each other, swapping yarns, and staying fit by running from one venue to another.

We managed to see Annie in action with Tim Nelson – Annie and the Latin Lovers. Intriguing selection of jazz standards, and middle European folk songs – in the cavernous George hotel back room – Annie with energy to burn, and an entertaining set. Marek Podstawek a standout .

Then back to see Barry Law pilot Indigo Jazz Band through a sweet set of standards, before the Katerina Myskova Quartet stepped up, but with singer Michelle Gigliotti as a replacement for La Myskova who had called in sick. Michelle hadn’t sung a full set for 22 years, neither Pete (bass) nor Bill (drums) had sighted any of her charts before we started, and both rose to the occasion, with Pete absolutely nailing Michelle’s selection of bluesy standards. Seemed to go down well.

Friday: back in Melbourne, in disgrace as we missed both of Col’s sets with Jaz Stutely in Cheap Frills. Saturday, another 5.30am start and printed/wrote out another ten charts for the lads. After catching a sweet set of standards from JAQ Plus, Janet Arndt singer, and Keith Hughes and Brian Paulusz amongst them, we played a second session (Michelle again). Cooler day, warmer audience, went well. Then listened to Shades of Blue – another fine set on the balcony, with Steve Bray on drums.

Next Year’s AJC.

This was the last hurrah for the (exhausted) committee. The Ballarat Jazz Club probably has the friendliest volunteers of any Festival, ably wrangled by Bobby Ballinger and others, – I caught up with the Ballinger lugging a step ladder around, which is the typical lot of any Committee member!

The AJC is , as I am advised, holding the next Convention in Albury,

All in all, a splendid Convention. Well done Ballarat!

https://www.2018jazzconvention.org.au/

Ballarat Jazz Club

The Next Jam Session 11 Years of mediocrity and still counting…

Hope you had a suitably jolly, politically non-correct, festive season, ate too much, drank too much, argued with the mother in law, kicked the dog gently, or did absolutely SFA, as the mood took you.

To help you recover, the Jam Sessions, rashly, are starting again on January 13th, when the desperates at least, and possibly a few other desultory souls, will be gathering at the Junktion Hotel, for an exploratory session of blowing the cobwebs out of the horns, tweaking the G String for the first time in ages, and charging heedless of the consequences into another Year of Trainwrecks, mangled Ballads, and b*ggered up Bebop.

Should be a laugh, hope to see you there…

The Survey: Jam Sessions Who, what, when, where, but probably not why…

Actually, it is extremely hard to ask an unbiased question… but we took 20 surveys at the pre Christmas bash, and came up with the startlingly boring conclusion that

(a) Session Times: Almost all of us prefer the Sunday arvo time slot to any other

(b) Festivals: More than half the respondents had attended a Jazz Festival in 2018

(c) Likes: Quite a few people nominated the social aspects of the Jam Sessions as an important factor in deciding to attend (we are, apparently, a friendly lot.). Several respondents said they liked the variety of music.

(d) Dislikes: About half the respondents said the music was too loud at times. Several mentioned “dithering about between songs.”

(e) Featured Singers etc. Almost everyone wanted another Featured Singer series, most wanted a featured soloist series, and fewer thought a featured band series would work. One suggested a “featured rhythm section” – we tried something like this in October and it ran well – with up to 12 musos playing or singing at once.

Festivals: On average, we attended 25.3 sessions per year – the 0.3 explains why some people leave early? There were 48 sessions in 2018

Newbies: One person suggested we introduce first timers by name so regulars know who they are. Again a friendly lot, and we might try this. We have been putting names and photos in the Newsletter from time to time – this started when one person asked “who the hell is Captain Chaos?” At least five of us pointed at the (former) Duracell Kid.

Variety: several respondents said they liked the variety of music, one hacked into the Rhythm Section when they don’t know the charts. That is a bit harsh, as the saxophonists and singers almost always call the tune, and do not, as a rule, have the chutzpah to fake it like the lads at the back.

Sound and light: A couple of people raised the issue of sound (the 15 year old PA/Speakers had already done around 150 gigs before we started using them for the Jam, and the microphones are all well hammered). Lighting could be better, but it took a lot of persuasion to get Dodgy Dave to install a spot on the soloist/singer. We’ll try again.

The Newsletter and publicity: We published 48 newsletters in 2018. These received 13,185 hits, slightly less than the previous year. Peak readership last year was June 2018 (1,942 hits). We have a comprehensive database for the newsletter (400 -550 names at any one time) but do not release these details. If anyone asks for a contact, we will always check first with that person that it is ok to pass on their details.The majority of newcomers find us via Google. Facebook is undergoing a tidy up.

The Pre Christmas Bash

As ever, good fun all round, followed this year by a rather pleasant dinner for the die-hards. 28 musicians got up and boogied, Captain Chaos led the whole shebang with his usual flair, Santa Claus (looking suspiciously like Jack Morris) came to town, and the wardrobe Mistress (Annie) excelled herself with silly hats and lots of tinsel.

The Jammers, in a fit of absent mindedness, attempted some jazz tunes, very nearly succeeding on occasion.

That is it for a year which saw us relocate, and flourish at the Junk, where the standard of music making lifted considerably.

Awards:

The following prizes are not awarded, because we are mean bastards as a rule, but go out and buy yourself some chocolates

Most improved bassist: Pony Tail Pete, with Dave NN snapping at his heels. Ivan sweetest sound on that enormous double bass.

Most improved sax player: Either Keef, or possibly Laurie with a late lunge at the line. John Calamatta best sound. Captain Chaos for expanding the range of toons.

Guitar: Neil, and one sublime session with Neil and Fermin together. Ben Stewart when he turned up.

Drummers: Bill, Michael F, Malcolm, Russell Salah all good. Mike Hirsh best extended drum solo, John Perri for his technical prowess, Steve Bray for his knowledge of drums. Andre a find.

Pianists: Special mention to Malcolm, who packed up the gear every session,and otherwise fiddled excellently with his organ.  

Most singers in one session: 10. Seriously…

Best violinist: Huich, just

Best Flootist (and gets better every week): Julian

Next Jam, this Sunday 13th January, 4.00pm start,

The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.

Some of the Guilty Parties

Ben Stewart, guitarist

Steve Bray, drummer

Katerina Myskova

Salah, regular drummer
Fermin, guitarist, negotiated the Junktion deal

Pony Tail Pete, bass, Annie looks on
Jack and his slush pump
Sam Izzo, pianist, concentrating hard
Julian, floot, with a microphone up his nose?

The divine Miss Smith, who forgot her hairbrush
The inestimable Captain Chaos

Sunday Jazz at The Junktion Hotel: Well,that was a surprise….

I almost didn’t go. What the hell, rocked up anyway, as I had promised Mistress Smith that I would come for the last Featured Singer series of the year (see report below).

The jam sessions have been predictably unpredictable of late … this one featured some new faces (welcome Britta the bass), some returning faces (Jane, where ya been?), some startling improvers, (Dave No Nickname on bass), some returning Jammers (Kay Young de Darwin in fine form, great to see you again), rather more audience ordering ridiculously large meals and staying all afternoon… and some fine music making/mangling/take your pick.

Featured Singer (and wardrobe mistress)Mistress Annie Smith sang a fiendishly difficult set that put Gentleman John Curtis right in his comfort zone – standout was Take Five, which is the first time in living memory anyone has attempted a 5/4 tune (other than when the rest of us were playing in some other tempo…) Annie craftily avoided some of her more entertaining/less intellectual songs so we will have to ask her back to do another set…

Rhythm section of the week: Drummers win by a country mile: Bill Swannie, Salah and Alan Smith all good, Andre a late arrival but just as good too.

Soloists: Laurie played beautifully, and nailed it, Keith was his usual excellent self, and they both paired well with the Captain .

Singers included Jane with a top swing set, Brian Fly Me To The Moon, Stormy Monday, Angel Eyes and Kevinwas there but elected not to sing. Kay Young sang as well as ever, Ann Hayres arrived later, but hadn’t sung before I left, probably so I wouldn’t be able to take the mickey. She is always good.

It was entertaining stuff. The good Captain got so excited he forgot to call his customary five bar fours, or indeed create any chaos at all. So will anyone turn up next session?

Pre Christmas Bash: Sunday 16th December

This week… 16th December, with an earlier start time of 3.00pm. For those that want to, we suggest we stop for a meal at 6.00pm  or thereabouts. The food is good, and the portions are enormous.

Indications are, that despite the bigger turnout last week, even more people will be coming for the Bash. The skeleton staff at Bendigo Towers a rereasonably confident that the afternoon will prove to be a disaster,in the finest traditions of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers.

Look out for…

Jammers attempting to play jazz – that will never work, we all prefer the occasional train-wreck.  Audience members are advised to ignore this, talk loudly and preferably indulge in malicious gossip instead. We all have our strengths…

Complete bluddy strangers deciding to turn up for the first time and expecting to play most of the afternoon…. or complete bands doing the same (it has happened before…)  We will attempt to get everyone a spot. Dodgy Dave has been warned we might run a bit late.

Of course it is always possible that almost no-one will turn up at all, in which case we will have a marvellous time anyway…

The Bash has always been a chance for new, old, decrepit and lapsed jammers to get together and sneer at the current crop. As you love a bit of scurrilous gossip (who doesn’t?) this is a great opportunity to get on the bandwagon, meet old friends, possibly wish you hadn’t,and if so inclined, blow the tits off yer fave toon or three.

Be there!

Next Jam, this Sunday 16th December, 3.00pm start,

The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.

Next week: a review of the Year that was. Reputations will be ruined, riots reviewed, repeat offenders identified, prizes awarded. 

Toodlepip!

Sunday Jazz at The Junktion Hotel: A quiet session?

Well, not really. After some opening numbers by Messrs. Geoff,
Captain Chaos, and Curtis, and a welcome appearance by Mr
Stringer (drums), the afternoon followed its usual trajectory. It always
had the look of a quiet afternoon, lacking bass player and singers for
quite a while.
Nevertheless, a pleasant cacophony for a while. Volker played a
couple (sax) as did Geoff – who could have played more piano but
elected to leave. The customary hand grenade, mainly in the form of
an overly loud drummer, occasional guitarist Mr Ryan, Mr Harris and
the Captain himself contrived to make it sufficiently rowdy for a while,
with the unfortunate departure of the few audience members who
had turned up.
We were left with a total of 15 people in the room, all of them sat as
far from the music as they could get. Salah and Russell had to leave
after waiting a while .Of course, no one is expected to learn from the
experience, as they were, in the main, having too much fun.

The Captain, Peter Ryan and Volker – a quiet little drink

Kevin in fine voice

Bill Swannie (drums) Never missed a beat


Ben Stewart – Cool jazz guitar

What went well? You may well ask, always assuming you are reading
the newsletter, and in the habit of asking yourself rhetorical
questions… Pony Tail Pete had a good afternoon, playing solid bass,
with a coupla good solos thrown in. Kevin, looking and sounding
better than he has for a while, sang impressively – Georgia a highlight
with some fine piano from Malcolm.. Keef warmed up and was the
pick of the saxophones – we managed to stuff Daahoud for a couple
of choruses, but made sense of it in the end. First time Keef had
played it, and to think we were following him! Ben Stewart was a late
arrival, playing some gentle guitar with Bill Swannie on drums and
PTP on bass then sensibly ducked the solo on Daahoud

Pony Tail Pete looking chill

I had left before Mistress Smith had settled and sung. 

This was the smallest turnout we have had since starting at the Junk

  • and we must hope for rather better next week.
  • Featured Singer for December 9th
    The always entertaining, occasionally fabulous Mistress Smith! We
    have saved the best for last: singing up a storm next Sunday, and I
    am rather looking forward to this one. Silly hats optional.
The occasionally fabulous Mistress Smith
  • Pre Christmas Bash: Sunday 16th December
  • We have set the date for 16th December, with a start time of 3.00pm. For those that want to, we suggest we stop for a meal at 6.00pm or thereabouts –
  • negotiations are being held with the production staff –
  • Costume Director: Annie Smith
  • Reindeer Wrangler: Jack Morris
  • Marketing and Promotion: You
  • The Bash has always been a chance for new, old, decrepit and lapsed jammers to get together and sneer at the current crop. As you love a bit of scurrilous gossip (who doesn’t?) this is a great opportunity to get on the bandwagon, meet old friends, possibly wish you hadn’t, and if so inclined, blow the tits off yer fave toon or three.
  • Be there!


Next Jam, this Sunday 9th December, 4.00pm start,
The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the
corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park
Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops
off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.




Sunday Jazz at The Junktion Hotel: A lot of people and a bit of chaos


TRather more people than usual turned up for this one – including about five people from Canberra, along with about 345 extremely well behaved tinlids, who sat through the afternoon and appeared to enjoy it all.

The usual opening fusillade of jazz standards, with the Captain lighting up some smooth sax lines, the inimitable John Curtis priming himself for the featured duo of Debbie and Ashley. It was all going swimmingly, until, eventually, the Captain felt enough was enough and called for the big spanner, putting up Ash and Deb whilst the debonair Mr C was nowhere to be seen, and meself got finagled into sitting in as the Debster started with a tune I didn’t know. If it had any more flats, we could have taken it to VCAT. Mercifully, John returned, with a wry grin, and the thought occurred that he might have deliberately hand passed the opening tunes… couldn’t happen could it?

As a result, the duo set wasn’t as smooth as we could have hoped – no reflection on the singers, as they harmonised beautifully, but organisationally this wasn’t our finest moment. The cock was definitely upped…

Didn’t seem to matter, and over the next coupla hours, over 20 musicians got up and boogied. “twas fun, but…

Manal was back and sang with her usual mixture of nerves and charm. The ever improving Laurie blew some nice lines, Will ditto,ditto, nobody died and nothing got broken, well maybe a little bit but who cares….

Pre Christmas Bash: Sunday 16th December

After some discussion with Dodgy Dave, we have set the date for 16th December, with a start time of 3.00pm. For those that want to, we suggest we stop for a meal at 6.00pm or thereabouts – negotiations are being held with the production staff –

Costume Director: Annie Smith, with hats

Reindeer Wrangler: Jack Morris if I can get him

Marketing and Promotion:  You: ring ya mates

The Bash has always been a chance for new, old, decrepit and lapsed jammers to get together and sneer at the current crop. As you love a bit of scurrilous gossip (who doesn’t?) this is a great opportunity to get on the bandwagon, meet old friends, possibly wish you hadn’t,and if so inclined, blow the tits off yer fave toon or three.

Be there!

Featured Singer?

No featured singer this week, you will just have to feature yourselves. Our last featured singer of this year will be Annie Smith on 9th December

Next Jam, this Sunday 2nd December, 4.00pm start,

The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.

 

What to Sing at a Jam Session?


We have had a request for some suggestions for new jazz songs to learn. Here are the 6 Golden Rules although no-one knows why…

Rule No 1; You can start with Summertime, Autumn Leaves, Route 66′, Georgia and other standards, because almost everyone else does, but if you want to sing them again and again, you had better come up with a new take on the tune. One Note Samba as a swing tune, Autumn leaves in French or 5/4 time or both, Georgia in 12/8, Route 66 with three or four singers, Caravan ditto. We have done all of these in the past, by the way.

And probably won’t be doing them again unless you ask nicely.

Rule No 2: Work out what the song is about. Find out who wrote it, and why. Listen to different versions. Try and relate it to your own experience. Cry Me A River is all about a bastard, so sing it with venom, Girl From Ipanema is about poignancy, with a sad back story for its creators.

Rule No 3: Mix it up – some fast some slow, blues, latin and slow ballads. An all blues set or an all funk set can be crashingly dull, an all swing tunes set gets tedious, and an all Bebop set often doesn’t work as well with vocals, and in any case needs to be played with conviction by heroin afflicted black musos with anger management issues to be at their best.

Rule No 4: Emotion: Charlotte Nicdao once reduced an audience to tears by singing Moon River, Sevil Sabah has done the same with Billy Preston’s You Are So Beautiful. Annie Smith regularly reduces an audience to tears as well, but these are generally tears of laughter.

Rule No 5: Singing is a specialised and demanding area of musicianship. Practice as hard as the musicians behind you. Get some formal training and feedback on your technique.

Rule No 6: Ignore Rules No 1 to 5 completely and do what pleases you most – we, the audience, will enjoy it all the more!