Another day, another donut

Yup, it all went tits up, pear shaped and quite possibly ass-about for starters. And after I had been given conflicting explanations by the several audio experts in out midst, I eventually left it as it is. Or isn’t.

When the Obergruppenfeuhrer gets out on day release, we may have words, but until then, we will perhaps rely on another sound system…

So… what of the jam – it took its time to get going, and we opened with no foldbacks through which we might have appreciated Jeff’s open blow all the more.

RT Hon Annie Smith

Annie getting ready to sing

Crowd-wise, this was a quieter afternoon than most – and paradoxically, so loud that we managed to empty the other half of the joint rather sooner than usual. Notwithstanding the muddy racket ( and to be fair the Captain got this under control in time, ) the afternoon was the usual mix of the sublime and the ridiculous.

The pearls among the swine had to include Nelson, who when he was allowed to go trio style played his heart out. Laurie, who seems to get mentioned a lot these days, stepped in with a lively rendition of Sugar. Yuko, who waited patiently, then sang a trio of standards for her equally patient friends. Japanese politeness.

Steve, Mr Hirsh, Michael “happysnaps” Findlay and the rather loud André played drums, The Captain, Jeff, Laurie and Alan saxed it up, Fermin and Emi(?) shared the guitar spot, Deborah picked a couple of standards – a version of Lullaby of Birdland so fast it didn’t put anyone to sleep.

Hirsh

Mr Hirsh, of carpet fame.

How long should each tune last? This came up in conversation – the average duration of a jazz standard generally runs between 4 and 6 minutes. (we measured this at Castlemaine jazz festival, and again one afternoon at the Junk) This leaves plenty of time for everyone to get a go – and runs to 40 tunes each session, which would make things ridiculously easy for the Captain. Of course, if you want to be selfish, egotistical, or both, you can extend the time per tune by any one of the following means.

· Play your instrument, loudly, whilst we are trying to do a sound check. This only works at the beginning of a session, and is incredibly helpful if the crew doing the set up actually feels like listening to you warming up. They don’t.

· Stand around chatting rather than starting the next tune. The audience (and other waiting musos ) absolutely love watching you chat. Amazingly interesting, and uses up a fair bit of time.

Kay

Welcome back! Kay with the best set of charts in town

· Solos: play one, two, or even three choruses, every opportunity you get. Particularly useful when you just get up any time you feel like. Extra points for playing over the singer, who has been waiting patiently for the last 90 minutes.

· Singers: Bring your entire book of charts up, stand at the microphone, and then start making your mind up about which chart to play. Then hand it out. Slowly. Then give the tempo by waving your hands about, a signal often interpreted by the hapless drummer as “any tempo you like, especially the wrong one” Then miss the 4, 8 16 and 32 bar intro before launching into the actual song.

Why do trios sound so much better?

Rarity value possibly. Actually, smaller ensembles (say drums and bass, singer or soloist, and piano or guitar) invariably sound better for a number of reasons:-

A simpler set up makes it more audible for the other musicians, as well as the audience

Shorter duration – and the consequent quality of solos, either vocal or instrumental.

Less is more – The phrase was originally attributed to Mies Van Der Rohe who, if he ever played an instrument , forgot to mention it.. He was a “minimalist” architect. Just like his buildings, stripping a tune back to the essentials is better than having way too many superfluous things….such as guitars, pianos, notes in a solo, more than one solo instrument at a time, or even an unnecessarily complex sound system.

At present, a typical line-up at the jam session is six or seven people and the record is twelve– way too many for producing good quality music, and often everyone seems to cancel each other out. Of course, the other side of the coin is that everyone has a good blow, and the racket can be appalling but in a fun way.
TW

Next Jam this Sunday 4pm at the Post Hotel

Next Jam is on Sunday at 4pm

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 (same side as Post Hotel). Tram 3/3a or 67 down St Kilda Road from the City 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.

The Newport Jazz Festival May 2nd and May3rd, 2020

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Website: We threw the damn thing in the water, to test it for leaks. There are a few, but Jess has done a great job so far. Register a Band! Pay an individual musician registration fee! Have a look at the venues (second page on the site) and see who gets their Band details/photos/whatever up first.

There will be ongoing edits of this as the information is updated.

for more info click here

Ah, it is lunchtime… toodlepip!

The Great Sound System Debacle continues (episode 23)

In recognition of what has now become an ongoing tradition, we have dedicated pretty much the whole review to the following debacle. Congratulations are due all round….

Step 1 Spent a pleasant hour or so in the morning not understanding the sound system as explained, patiently, by Mike, the all round ober gruppenfeuhrer Der Post, part time audio engineer and optimist in chief. Eventually the sound system of his dreams worked: signal through the mixing desk sitting on the amp we weren’t using (no one noticed until step 4 of Ensuing Debacle) to the ceiling mounted speakers, via the control panel behind the bar. Active speakers deployed as fold back, taking signal from the guitar amp, bass amp, piano and vocals via the mixer and feeding it to the singer/saxes, and to the piano/drums/bass.

No one notices the switched off amp/mixer and the two biggest EV speakers which are not connected anyway. And we couldn’t fully check the microphones but did notice that the output signals from the mics were not matched.

Step 2 of the Ensuing Debacle. Captain Chaos (now where have we heard that name before?) helpfully connected the Roland piano amp to the piano, thus managing to destroy the balance in the Obergruppenfeuhrer’s system. Quietly removed power and lead. No one noticed until step 3 of the ensuing debacle.

We started around 4 – ish with the sound system and foldbacks working better than ever. Questions remain over the microphones, some adjustment at the mixer, thereby further depleting the balance in the set up.

Step 3: Tits up and Pear shaped About 20 minutes later, the Obergruppenfeuhrer’s computerised system crashes, bringing down the secret computer panel in the cupboard and most other things in its wake. This causes the foldbacks to stop, err, folding back. The Captain converts one foldback to a fold forward as the overhead speakers had ceased emitting a signal due possibly to the aforementioned Step 3.

Step 4: Gimme Noise! Pianist points the other foldback at the pianist, thereby excluding the saxophones. He also elects to plug in the separate keyboard amp, as he can’t hear the foldback (which isn’t working). We need’nt worry about the singers, as by this stage, the microphones weren’t working either. Someone pushes the sliders on the mixing desk to max. Has no effect as the leads are feeding to Aux not Main.

Step 5: Noise Goes Up: Instrumentalists now elect to play louder as they can’t hear themselves or indeed anyone else in the foldbacks. As a result, the increased volume forces everyone else to shout .. at each other, at the bar staff, and at the top of their voices. So the sound goes up some more….

Step 6 : Switch the other speakers on: Captain Chaos is nearing end of his tether. In desperation, we switch on the Yamaha mixer amp, which powers up the two enormous EV’s with what remains of the balanced signal – although we successfully amplify the short comings in the microphones.

Outcome? Everyone happy, and a splendid afternoon ensued, proving that no sound system, however awful, can keep a good jammer down. Or as an alternative, no Jammers, however good, (and there were 25 of us) can fix a sound system up. Take your pick!

Honourable Mentions go to Laurie, sweet as ever, Alan the best of the saxes on the day, Marion for being properly audible, Aimee and the Captain for hot solos on You Are So Beautiful, and Aimee’s mum for staying on after Aimee had gone home. And to the Right Honourable Miss Annie Smith for singing so well, so late.
TW

Next Jam this Sunday 4pm at the Post Hotel

Next Jam is on Sunday at 4pm

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 (same side as Post Hotel). Tram 3/3a or 67 down St Kilda Road from the City 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.

The Newport Jazz Festival May 2nd and May3rd, 2020

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Website: It is lurching down the slipway as we speak. There will be ongoing edits of this as the information is updated.

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

Band Bookings: Col has resumed sending out info to selected bands. Bands are starting to get interested, and we have even received several (uninvited) submissions, so word must be getting around.

Venues: We are booking two rooms at the Library/Newport Community Hub, two rooms at the Bowls Club, the Scout Hall next to the Bowls Club, and the RSL next to that (all on Market Street, Newport, and a drop punt from two big carparks.

Bands: We now have capacity for up to 53 bands – more than we originally envisaged.

Seems Like…Groundhog Day

– and are we doomed to repeat the same old shenanigans? Natch!. As if the sound set-up wasn’t complicated enough, it was totally and comprehensively cocked upwards by the time we started last Sunday. Simplicity compromised by the careful/careless removal of one cable. The power cable. Not that it mattered – no one quite knew which lead went where and what to do with it went it got there.

Which it didn’t, (get there, I mean – pay attention at the back.) For a while, we had no proper foldback, no sound to the courtyard or to the other side of the bar. Strangely, the occasional trio set up worked rather well…

By the end of a lively session, the Captain de Chaos opined that it had been a busy one all round. Even though we only had 24 musos get up on the day. It felt like more – possibly because by 5.00pm, the bar was the fullest we have ever seen it. Whoo Hoo!

So… we kicked off, carefree, or careless, whichever floats your boat, with a trio of songs from Yuko, and some instrumentals from Alan, Jeff and the Captain, including Alan’s original Josephine. Just a spiffin’ warm up, really.

Then the rhythm section (Steve B, Stan the Man and meself) settled to its task, and lifted its game with Ben Hooper on keys, and the long time no see Mihoko (saxophone). Carol and Jane threw in some (possibly Diana Krall influenced) ballads, the saxes continued to jump in, then the Debster sang the best set she has in ages. By which time, Ashley (60 and a bit) had crooned and departed. Then Darlene (D’Adelaide) wandered in on a whim, and scorched through a set, Devon d’Bar sang for the first time (Spooky, not bad at all) and Deborah discovered that not all songs are created equal. Vladimiro (it’s Italian for Vladimir) played harp. And I discovered that playing the melody for the singer on Desafinado, in a key other than the default Bb is, err…, theoretically straightforward. Or to put it another way, almost impossible.

Ah well, onward and upward, as the actress said to the… but I digress. Nelson took over bass duties, Agus sat in on keys and then a great duet between the Debster and Darlene – Autumn Leaves as it often does. Chantelle got up and sang – a bit wayward at first, but then good, followed by a gratifyingly neat session on drums. And Moondance for an all-in finale, with 10 musos getting up and creating a racket which could be variously described as appalling, miraculous,or just good. Just…

Props to first time tonsil artistes, Devon, Deborah and Darlene. Welcome back to Agus, Ben and Mihoko. I haven’t mentioned Mr Hirsh, esq, – or his recording studio.

We pulled stumps at near on 8.00pm. A good afternoon’s entertainment, but never mind, we can always cock it up next time.
TW

The Newport Jazz Festival 2nd & 3rd May 2020

Logo settled and should be on the letterhead soon.

Band Bookings: the first confirmations are coming in. We are inviting selected bands to register their interest first, then οἱ πολλοί (that includes me, and you, probably)

As a result of our recent straw poll. The bands you preferred were:

· Modal contemporary
· 14th Century plain song
· Everything in between
· Anything in a tent

And the keywords so far are:

· What?
· What, what, what?? (from a drummer) (in 3/4)
· Your Gas Bill has $742.23c owing (actually, we need to check the other side of that envelope)

Next Jam this Sunday 4pm at the Post Hotel

Next Jam is on Sunday at 4pm

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 (same side as Post Hotel). Tram 3/3a or 67 down St Kilda Road from the City 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.