The Jammers Bit: The truth…

Jane Little, singer

Kay Young, Singer,

Ivan Sultanoff, bass

Laurie Savage, saxophone

Seems like only 123 years since Adolph S Ochs, then owner of The New York Times, created the famous slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” for that august rag. It is still on the masthead today. We treat it more as an exception than a rule, but it has always been the motto of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers Newsletter, ever since we moved in to Bendigo Towers in three packing cases, a hurry or a fit of pique.

Whatever, now seems like a good time to ring up a few regular jammers, annoy them, and wheedle their life story out of them before they realise they are victims, not guests…What we learnt is that the back story is often quite superior to the sort of racket that the jam sessions can induce..What follows is absolutely true in some cases…

Jane Little, singer

Born an only twin, she first sang at the age of 3 and performed her first gig at the age of 16. Asked for a career highlight, she nominated playing The Lakehouse, Daylesford with 7 piece band Private Practice. This gig ran for years, possibly proving that the clientele at the Lakehouse Daylesford had a high turnover, or short memories, or possibly that the band was quite good..

She then sang Bob Dylan tunes at Port Fairy Jazz Festival in front of around 20,000 people – an extraordinary number even accounting for the fact it probably goes up about 1000 a year….

Little known fact: in her early twenties she was quite a looker. Still is.

She would like to be 36 – a high point in her life from which it has been downhill all the way, but in a good way.

Jane is a confident performer as a regular at the jam sessions although she took a bit of coaxing when she first turned up at the Junktion (0.006 nanoseconds if I remember correctly)– and she secretly likes Diana Krall – so she doesn’t take her jazz too seriously.

Ivan Sultanoff: double bass.

Ivan speaks nearly six languages nearly fluently, goes to Europe every year for the skiing and has a knee reconstruction as soon as he gets back – so he clearly isn’t a very good ski instructor.

He started playing the violin at the age of 10 shortly before Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Russians. Coincidence? You decide.

Asked for a career highlight, he nominated backing The Supremes, and followed that up with the Elton John Tour, John Farnham, and four concerts with Frank Sinatra. Why such a gifted bass player needed Ol’ Blue Eyes to accompany him is a mystery to all of us.

Ivan also nominated the Montreux International Music Festival with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as a classical highlight; and playing for the three Tenors. Real musos would have had at least four… Ivan reached his peak at 55, and has declined so fast he now plays at Jam Sessions…

The Supremes, on being told Ivan was playing for them:is it me or do they look just a little worried?

Elton John, on being told Ivan was playing for him

                                                   The three tenors, on being told Ivan was playing for Elton John

Kay Young, singer who didn’t set fire to her apartment in November 2014. Lawsuit pending

Kay Young: when she was so poor she couldn’t afford a pair of socks

Started singing at the age of 5, which is before most of us were born. I know for a fact I wasn’t born until I was at least 6…Sang her first paying gig at the age of 18, and nominated her career highlight as singing Garland, Dietrich and Piaf songs at the Sydney Opera House in front of 3,000 people. Pfft! even Joan Sutherland got to sing there…

Kay once flew from Darwin to a shed in Nhulunbuy in a DC3 with a 13 piece band for the Policemen’s and Firemen’s Ball. Half the band smoked weed all night and no one can remember what happened to the Policeman’s ball. She then ate a dodgy prawn or something, got an allergic reaction and ended the night in a Bauxite mine or the local Hospital, although it is not entirely clear (from my notes) which is which.

Kay singing with Bakers Dozen in Darwin.

Kay couldn’t name her worst ever gig – could be any day now… She was on TV in the cast for the last series of the infamous ” No 96 ” and supplied a photo as proof. Fully clothed, I doubt it was authentic.

Preferred age… 33

Has the biggest repertoire of any singer at the Jam Sessions, but a reprehensible habit of converting every tune to a latin number. Probably to upstage Joan Sutherland. Once sang Autumn Leaves in 5/4 at the Grand Hotel. It was appalling…

Laurie Savage, extraordinary saxophone player

Extraordinary because he was 33 before he started playing. Was born in England and didn’t get to Australia until he was 11, by which time, of course, the damage was done.

Age he would like to be: 33 if he could know then what he knows now…

Nominated a Blues Brothers gig at the Club House Hotel in Blainey (NSW) as a career highlight. Half way through the gig the shearers, who were into a bit of biffo, elected to take the fight outside so they wouldn’t interrupt the Band. How respectful!

Worst gig: playing in a paddock up in the Blue Mountains on mid-Winter’s day. Says he had an icicle hanging off his horn. Cool jazz, probably.

Laurie played Castlemaine with Stan Van Hooft in Standing Tall and particularly enjoyed it, but is now reduced to playing at the Jam Sessions.

So there you have it: extraordinary amounts of talent all round. Next week we will have a look at a few more jammers. Maybe even you.

Go to a Festival… Go to a jam session – Get up and boogie soon!

Toodle pip!

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