The Grand Hotel develops taste in Jazz: The Last Hurrah

After nearly two years The Grand Hotel has decided to suspend the jazz. Or to put it another way, you are all sacked. So this Friday sees the Last Hurrah – a short set from Ruby Rogers, with Dean Constable, meself, the incomparable Doug Kuhn, and saxaphone maestro Damian Aitken, followed by as many of the singers and musicians who have played there getting up and taking turns (nicely, children!) to play all the tunes that nearly made them famous.

All jammers are encouraged to come along and join in – the Captain has arranged some light refreshments – and celebrate what has been a remarkably successful residency, first inspired by Kaye “one note samba” Young, who has also provided the PA system as well as as some of the longest endings in any form of jazz.

Highlights (for me anyway) have been:

Risa: invited half of Melbourne Uni’s Japanese students, and got three quarters of them to pack the joint – the biggest turnover the RAB bar has had since it opened 15 years ago. Standing room only in the Library!

Amy: Getting applause for starting a song, as well as at the end of it. Consistently our biggest crowd puller.

Anne Hayres: the biggest improver, and whose performance I have always enjoyed.

Gentleman John Curtis: I keep trying to pinch his exquisite phrasing, he keeps coming up with new ones.

Bronwyn: Has been in the audience more often than anyone else, and is an astute judge of performance.

Bruce Constable: the best of the drummers. Came down from Sydney and smoked it every time.

Dame Nellie Melba was unable to receive a prize as she failed to turn up despite repeated “comeback” promises.

Ruby Rogers: started like a windmill with a sequin problem, has developed some serious talent.

Ange Strickland: utterly gorgeous, and a gutsy singer to boot.

The Divine Miss Smith: for telling the best jokes and singing the best songs.

Frank and Andrew Lye, for both dropping in at short notice and saving our bacon.

And of course, Captain Chaos for all the hard work, entertainment, calling of fours at the most awkward moments, and encouragement for less experienced players.

And me, for enjoying (almost) every minute of it.

So, what next?

At last count, I had around 80 musicians and singers listed as having played at the Grand, plus quite a few who would have wanted to. The Friday night format has resulted in a significant improvement in the quality of music played on a Sunday. So it ought to continue.

We are currently exploring a couple of options for an alternative venue for Friday night. If anyone has any suggestions (other than the Strangled Ferret, Altona West) send an e-mail to melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com

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