As the appointed hour for last Sunday’s Jam session rolled around, I couldn’t help noticing that I wasn’t in Kew. I also couldn’t help noticing that it was colder than a witches wotsit.

There may well have been a jam session last Sunday, just not within earshot., seeing I was in the cold (very cold) heart of Devizes. I am not quite sure where that is either because I keep forgetting to ask when stumbling out of a pub. Or three.

I, and your good self, are both left to speculate on the Good Captain’s glowing description of the day’s proceedings. Which hasn’t yet arrived. And you may fill in the following all purpose emergency template © . This should be e-mailed to melbournejazzjammers as soon as possible.

The Session was: (delete as applicable)
· loud,
· quiet but confident
· spectacular,
· non existent,

The audience
· would have loved it
· There was no audience
· Somewhere in between

The rhythm section
· carried the day
· carried the drinks
· there was no rhythm section
· there was stuff all rhythm

The saxophones
· were all remarkably quiet, I couldn’t hear them from Wiltshire…. maybe the wind was in the wrong direction. Lift yer game, Lads!
· They never played a wrong note
· They never played a right note
· They played bebop all day
· all of the above, depending on who you talk to.

The session started
· late
· slightly late
· slightly later still
· just before Annie got there

and finished much, much later, when Captain Chaos ran out of notes…

© Jammers newsletter World Headquarters Bendigo Towers, the legal department.

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.


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


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.


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!


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…


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

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


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!

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.