The Jammers Bit

About the Newsletter

The Newsletter has a proud history of exaggeration, obfuscation, innuendo, insinuation and several other long words that escape the drizzled mind of the Extra 3B Reserve Copyboy; upon whom the Editor relies to provide the typos which he may or may not correct, as the mood takes him.

We have tried reporting facts, but this approach clearly does not work, unless you are a politician in which case facts are an essential part of your reportage. Without them, you would have nothing to distort.

We have also tried writing about jazz. Whilst we know approximately stuff all about jazz, the same is true of readers, of whom there are, when last counted, three – so they cannot be singers as they can’t count that far, and they can’t be saxophonists, as they count to five and often call it six and they can’t be drummers because they can’t read.

The Newsletter started, around 2008, as a serious weekly dissertation on the Jam Session du Jour. This approach continues to this day, the only change being that there are no Jam Sessions.

Seriously recommended!
Some handy links

instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

Happiest bit of News this week

Well, this is a line ball between a discussion of when where and how we might reconvene the jam sessions, and how the hell do we think we can propose a Newport Jazz Festival, complete with social distancing in the venues, covid safe routines at the door, and enough moolah coming in to reimburse the musicians a meaningful amount.

More to be advised as the dates for opening up become clearer, but suffice it to say we are actively discussing Jam sessions and Festivals.

What Have the Jammers Been Up To?

John Bell

This virtuoso of the bent brass tube (trumpet division) has been catching up on his technique – trying out a variety of on line courses in all aspects of musicianship. Most recently he has been listening to some Baroque music from Sibelius. Posh.

He has also been writing big band charts (does this explain the run on toilet paper supplies?), and learning a few jazz standards. No one knows what a jazz standard is or is not. Is there such a thing as a jazz non-standard?

John Bell & Rose

When he is not contemplating the Universe and society’s role in its downfall (which, to be honest, is most of the time, if not all of it…) he has been learning a bit of piano, not playing with the Mordialloc Jazz Orchestra, not sitting alongside first trumpet Mick Fraser. He has also not been playing with the Port Phillip Show Band and presumably has stopped paying attention to Jack Morris, Band OberGauleiter.

John is looking forward to his getting back to a Jam Session. The Mordialloc Jazz Orchestra, The Port Phillip Show Band, Mick Fraser and Jack Morris are also looking forward to him getting back to a Jam Session.

The Keefster

Keith Hughes started with the Jazz Jammers in their heady days at Ramage, a South Melbourne Bar and Eatery so enamoured of the Jammers that we were the first to know of their demise. Some piffling detail about more money going out than coming in.

Keith Hughes

Keith had the interesting ability to solo, then solo again over the singer for good measure. All of which detracted from his ability as a lyrical Clarinettist and lively Saxophonist. Since we encouraged the singers to vocal over his solos, he has been getting better and better.

Through Ramage, the Royal Standard, La Pena, the Leinster and The Post he keeps turning up, so much so that he is now considered an essential part of the furniture of any Jam session. Dresser or Wardrobe, you decide.

So the Garage is cleared, Rotten Ronnie is up for it, and Madge from Altona and the darkly mysterious Hortense have to deliver

The effort of setting up all that sound gear, not to mention shop lifting it in the first place, had resulted in both Madge and Hortense, exhausted, falling into a deep slumber, possibly assisted by the 2 and a half casks of Chateau Plonc that they knocked off during the set up process. We have all been there, done that, but the headache stays the same.
They were startled awake by Rotten Ronnie banging on the TiltADor. He had spotted, and recognised the Kingswood leaning against the kerb, and was desperate to get in and hide , as he was being pursued, for a variety of reasons, by the Vicar, his wife, her French onion seller paramour, the local constabulary, and an increasingly irate Trixie La Belle. There could have been others.
The reasons for their pursuit of the Cad were variously

  • Unconscionable consumption of the sacramental wine in the combination bus stop and Gospel Hall
  • Repeated Failure to make good on the Vicar’s wife’s bucket list
  • Repeated French onions, leading to a loss of sales downwind
  • A variety, no smorgasbord even, of indictable offences for which the Altona Constabulary may have to make a rare foray into the wilds of Railway Terrace. Collars may be fingered….

So, we have Madge from Altona, musical director and one time ballerina, Hortense who dressed for the occasion in black with a dash of red, (she dresses for every occasion in the same outfit, sometimes sporting a Mantilla for effect); Rotten Ronnie who hasn’t been the same since he suffered that unfortunate blow in the Ballarat region; and Mme Trixie about whom we know nothing,trying to get in.
The ensemble was ranged and ready to produce the definitive version of Was I Drunk, Was He Handsome And Did Momma Give Me Hell when Mme Trixie pointed out that they didn’t know the words, had no charts and would have to wing it from start to finish. Would it work? Would the Vicar, his wife, the French Onion seller and the boys in blue stop hammering on the door?
All may be revealed next week…

The Jammers Bit.

About the Newsletter

Anyone interested in receiving a weekly newsletter detailing the jam sessions, need only send their e-mail address to and in no time at all they will have to spend nearly ten minutes a week reading all about it.

The online newsletter is free, informative and mostly irreverent, used to have reviews of previous jam sessions, and now never reviews CD’s and gigs any more because, CD’s only exist in the fevered memories of washed up musos, and there are no gigs.

The Newsletter, given to irony from its title on, sometimes contains subliminal messages which may rot your brain or encourage the reader to turn up at a jam session if we ever have one, or both; and should appeal to a varied audience which includes jazz musicians who can (a) read and (b) own a computer.

Highly recommended!

Happiest bit of music this week
Saved this for a bit of cheer. Warning! Imgur is addictive….

Try not to smile…

What Have the Jammers Been Up To?

News From the Deep North

Brisbane chanteuse Leena Salim gives an interesting insight to what Melbourne, one time capital of the free world, might look like for musicians emerging from the fog. Brisbane is gradually waking up – but then it has always been so.

She reports that live music is gradually returning to the Big Q, that people are keen to get out and hear some live performance; and that bars and restaurants are charging an entrance fee, which pays the musicians. You generally have to book (i.e. No spur of the moment walk ins). The Brisbane Jazz Club is back up and running regular events (put down the ‘phone Murgatroyd, they are booked for months ahead.)

Some peeps have ste up house parties with live music hired for the evening . In Bris, up to 30 guests are allowed, which is confusing, as the numbers elsewhere are 5, 10, 20 and 50 with a side order of who gives a stuff Melbourne conspiracy theorists who seem to collect in any number they feel like. So what number keeps you safe? The virus doesn’t know, maybe we are confusing it into oblivion.

But I digress: Anecdotally, Queensland musicians are earning less than they were, but our sunny little optimist for all things musical in the AFL capital of the world has a gig booked up, enterprising musos are playing gigs at Ikea. You can see them for free, just go up the stairs, turn right, then left then straight ahead, then make three more turns, through the kitchen section, round the rugs, past the bookshelf bits, back a bit, get another pencil and when you get to the Swedish Cafe, there they are – they finished their set about five minutes ago…

News from the Velinovski quarter (Briiiighton)

Susie is spending her time listening to Lianne La Havas – Bitter Sweet, and is going quietly mental trying to work her way through Logic Pro, doing some separate tracked recordings with a keyboard, voice and bass.

She is planning a jazz recording session (Hirsh, are you paying attention) to put down Black Coffee,
You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to, and Comes Love.

And what, you may ask, of Madge from Altona and the darkly mysterious Hortense?

Well, you probably wouldn’t ask, because not a few people don’t know who they might be, and most of the others didn’t read that bit of last week’s Newsletter. Suffice to say their headlong trajectory along the Hume came to a smoking halt at the lock up garage in Refinery Terrace. The long suffering Kingswood had had enough.

As an aside, that lock up had a colourful history, having been an annex to the Strangled
Ferret before that august establishment burnt to the ground years ago. It was where the Oscar Beetroot Band, Weimar cabaret artistes and sad emigres once held an afterparty without doing the gig first. Madge remembers it well, although Hortense overdid the sherbets on the night and can, as a consequence, remember nothing. Probably a good thing.

After a brief run as a Lebanese pizza shop, the lockup declined, and despite rumours it was to re-open as Altona West’s second knocking shop, it became instead the repository for the considerable detritus brought back from Madge’s disastrous night at the Bairnsdale Working Mens Club. Which is where the Kingswood came in handy, and not for the first time . . .

So, on to the recording of Was I handsome, Was He Drunk and Did Mam Give Me Hell. All the gear was carefully set up, three times, once without the cables, once with the wrong cables and then with the right lines in the wrong holes. The story of Hortense’s life but Madge didn’t care. “We are going to be Artistes!”

And next week, we may find out how it all went, although quite possibly there will be enlightening discussion of the Nineteenth Centuy Balkan conflicts instead; and of their passing effect on the Oscar Beetroot Band.

Or not

More Tales from the Pantry & Other Jam Sessions

Many Centuries past, (Pre Covid) there was a Queens Festival held every year at the Castle. Many merry Bands flocked to join in the usual jam tasting sessions. Each band was given an allotted time and a venue so that the musicians could a get a taste of all the fruit on offer.

There were many Knights of Jazz seen jousting for positions to play. The music of the Duke was heralded throughout the halls.
The usual cool chicks, Henrietta and Cordelia were heard warming up their instruments down in the kitchen ready for the “Bake off.” The celebrated knights were in the main drinking hall scoffing ale and wailing out some great treats.

Sir Roger wielded his mighty sax and blew what can only be described as jam that had so many notes the “bake off” judge was left with a sinus condition that blocked all senses. The waft of honey dripping from his instrument caused the chicks to throw their quills in the air and faint.

Meanwhile out in the backblocks of the Castles Stables, Princess Donna had been given the short straw again. Her tickler of ivories had left her in a pickle.

Then out of blues corner of the stables wandered a dark horse. He was fired up ready to cook up a storm. He was an old hoofer from ‘way back when’. In Grappelli style his “fiddle” did the talkin’.

There was no need to peel his grape. Wine flowed. The sweet sounds complimented Princess Donna’s penchant for exuberant embellishments, especially the finale. The music overflowed her cup and spilled onto the straw floor, turning the performance into a meal to behold. The Judges swooned at the tasting.

Moral of Tale.

The Band that rocks the stable, rules the Weekend, and, there’s many a tasty tune still played by an old Fiddler.



Tales from the Pantry & Other Jam Sessions

In the Kingdom of Jazz land, before ISO, there were places called Clubs that held Song Competitions.
It was a chance for Singers to win money to stave off starvation, and to be given a recording contract that would open the gates and drawbridges of other famous Clubs.

These Competitions were live and fiercely contested. Singers had to arm themselves with ‘Charts’ to navigate the mind stream of jazz musicians who were lined up to play for you. Respect for them was key component of your success. A smile of acknowledgement didn’t go astray in this “dog eat dog” world.
I sat waiting on the bench with my friend “Singalot.'”

I came to provide her with my support and encouragement. She had a beautiful pure voice, but was prone to nerves. It was my job to occasionally give her sips of water and mop her brow with my hanky. A few minutes before it was her turn to go on,”Singalot” turned to me and exclaimed that she needed a cough lolly to clear her throat. Of course it was the one thing that I did not have in my purse.

“I have some.” declared a sweet looking contestant sitting on the other side of her.’ Would you like one of mine’

“Oh yes please!” said ‘Singalot’ who took the cough lolly and popped straight into her mouth.

I could see the look of gratitude on ‘Singalots’ face as the lolly worked its magic.

“Next!’ called the stage manager and up onto the platform went ‘Singalot’. She graciously handed her ‘charts’ to the musicians and took the microphone.
They began her Intro and then, to ‘Singalots’ horror, nothing came out. Her vocal chords had dried out and all she could do was make a rasping sound.

No musician with shining instruments could save her.

Moral Of the Tale:

You can’t have your Cough Lolly and Sing too.