It has been a lively week at Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers Newsletter. First time in ages that we have been unable to report a single bum note played by a single jammer. Try harder!
Epistrophy in the key of what? We are sure there have been some bum notes,, if only because so many of you have been attempting to learn Epistrophy in either Gbm, C# major, or a tearing hurry, depending on your mood at the time.
Why so many jammers are doing this is easily explained. We had occasion to contact quite a number of musos (see the Festival section below) with the intention of confirming their intent to perform in the Second Inaugural Newport Jazz Festival (permits pending). Almost everyone admitted to using the time to avoid doing all the tasks that they had rashly said they would do when they had the time.
Quite a number pounced eagerly on the Epistrophy idea as an excuse, as I said we would play it when we got a jam session together again. By accident, I mentioned the key we would play it in – and am now looking forward to three saxophones playing it in F#, Db, A#minor and B simultaneously, whilst the pianist plays it in Fb mixolydian – and the bass player in A. We are not worried what key the guitarists use, because they always sound a bit naff anyway. And the drummers don’t play in any key, so we have asked them to work up a spiffing little riff in 7/4 instead. This will keep them happy and the rest of us confused.
The noise should be truly appalling, and I encourage you to come along and enjoy the debacle, when we get around to it. Nothing can truly replace live music, can it?
A Trot Through the Archives
Most chardonnays at one session: Bob Vinard, every session. Dizzy’s 2009, 2010, 2011, eventually got banned, came back at the Leinster, and switched to most teaspoons (six usually) of sugar in his coffee, 2015, 2016,
Most insults hurled at a single Drummer Alan White, but only because he asked for them, and got grumpy if we left him out. Still miss him. A dapper dresser – is there stilla Datsun 180B in Moonee Ponds with no seat covers? A natural drummer – never had a lesson in his life. Never missed a beat, never found it in the first place. Eventually learned that a drum stick has two ends. You get the drift…
Longest single tune: Little Sunflower, 16 minutes. The Leinster, can’t remember when, as I only woke up when it was finished. A loose use of the word “tune”.
Earliest known Jammer: Mike Hirsh, by his own estimation. Has played at every one of the venues we have destroyed. Still playing, still waiting for a nice carpet…
Biggest Train Wreck of all time. So many to choose from…Contenders include Gentleman John Curtis for a version of Don’t Explain that defied belief. Actually maybe it was another tune, it was hard to tell. He will claim, quite justifiably, that he was hamstrung by the three saxophones playing in either a different key, a different tempo, or both.
Another memorable cockup was the Annie Smith Leinster debacle of 2015. Again, the name of the tune now escapes me. The chart was to blame. She followed this up with another absolute trainwreck at the Junktion, this time with Sam Izzo on piano and everyone else on drugs probably. The chart was to blame. We did the same song, on principle, the following week and it went fine…
Strange how the Curtis and the Divine Miss Smith (as she was then known), have been generally two of the best performers at Jam sessions in between. Of course it is more fun for all of us when it is the mighty who have fallen…
Loudest singer of all time: And damn good with it… Amy Jaulin at the Leinster. The entire Front Bar stopped playing 8 ball to listen – or was it to look?
Fours, Fives, who knows… This has been an enduring speciality of the Duracell Kid, latterly known as Captain Chaos. The trick is to leap up in the middle of a perfectly good tune, and call “fours” by which he may mean anything between 3 and 17… after which half the band will ignore him, and the other half stop, whilst the drummer du jour goes berserk in the mistaken belief that we like that sort of thing.
November 15th 2013 Jack’s Accident
“And Jack! Long term jammers may remember he was mowed down by a Pajero going backwards, whilst strolling across Queen Street. Jack Morris, not the Pajero. Rumour has it he was playing his trombone at the time. A complete defence against a charge of careless driving. Anyhoo, the crash severely affected his trombone playing abilities, to the extent that he now sounds pretty damn good. He was good before of course, but not pretty.
Taariq: A stalwart of the jams, starting from Dizzy’s. Had a unique feel for what constituted jazz, coupled with an innate inability to blend with almost any other musician. Would then show that he could play, if only intermittently by occasionally nailing a piece.. Sample review:
“Highlight of the day, for me, was Taariq getting the groove going for Feelin’ Good. We agreed at the end that it almost sounded like real music. Not like yer average jam at all really.”
And that is a trot through the archives for now. Several peeps have commented how much they miss the jams. Amazing how you can forget so quickly. Stay in touch, stay healthy, and toodlepip!