The Biggest Bash… ever

The Christmas Bash: so that was that – or was it?

Lunch. Well, why not? A few hardy souls foregathered for lunch at The Post: among them De Coverley the cad and a few friends (Larry, Doug, Laurie and Cath Connor et al), along with Yuko, The Captain, and a gradual assemblage of Jeff, Ivan, Gilbert, meself, and a bunch of others…. Lunch was pretty good.

Started the music with a fine foursome – the aforementioned bounder and his mates, and some rather good jazz, whilst the rest of us sucked on wagyu beef burgers, chips and reminiscences for a while Not many peeps at this stage and it really seemed as though the 2.00pm start would be a fizzer.

Aimee sings, Anton on bass

Which, of course, it wasn’t. This was the biggest Jam Session we have ever had – bigger than we could remember at Dizzy’s, bigger than the seven sax blowout at Ramages, bigger than the Captain’s birthday party at the Leinster.

How big, you ask? Well I can’t hear you not ask, but the answer is 45 musicians., all of whom got to play over the ensuing six hours. And when you factor in two who turned up but didn’t play (Rose and Bruce – sorry chaps), as well as those who were elsewhere engaged (Malcolm, Carol , Aggie the Gardener – you were missed) we were lucky to get away with it.

John Calamatta, the Maltese maestro, smooth as ever

All the drummers who didn’t turn up are in discgrace, because at one stage, I had to slap the skins so badly that Larry kindly got up from his rest and resumed.

So… a fine afternoon, fine music, and great company. Who should we pick out as particularly culpable?

Jeff played some of the sweetest saxophone he has in ages.

Sir Roger De Coverley easily topped the charts for most solos.

Gilbert turned up earlier than ever before, and sang with gusto.

The Debonair Mr Curtis was as elegant as ever.

Jane knocked up a fine set (actually, better than fine).

The Captain declined a solo on When Sunny Gets Blue, but then aced it anyway,.

Jack Morris sang for the third time in living memory,

Jack: he is singing

Dave NN the bass turned up for the first time in ages, as did guitar ace Ben Stewart, Ash de Wang sang…

…and the rest of you must remain unmentioned, because either you were unmentionable, or American, or excellent, or both, or because I have run out of superlatives, vituperatives, adjectives and inclination. But what a great afternoon that turned out to be!

Prizes, and the year in review

There are no prizes, but if there were, we would be awarding them to… (drum roll)

Malcolm for turning up late every week, playing better and better, and staying back to help the pack up. Gentleman JC for setting a standard to which we aspire.

The Rhythm section for driving the whole damn shebang. Ivan, Pete, Alan, Steve, Mike (x2), Bill, Mac, Hussein, and all the others: great job!

John Perri: for starting to drive the Rhythm section really well: much appreciated.

Annie Smith: for most nicknames in a year. Oh, alright, she sings rather well as well.

Alan West: for being a soothing influence on us all, and playing damn well as well.

The 120 + musicians who have played at the Post since April 2019. You know it has been a good year.

The Staff at the Post: Mike’s crew is constantly changing, but Devon, Mel, Adam, and Toby all stick in the mind. Some Jammers will be aware of how much they enjoy the jazz. Props to Mike for putting up with us.

Just when you thought – that is it for another year – or is it???

We are holding an unofficial, supernumerary Jazz Jam Session this coming Sunday 15th December, at the Post Hotel as usual, from 4.00pm until whenever – to which you are invited, and at which you may play or sing whatever the hell you feel like. Yuko’s parents are coming from Japan for this one. Annie will be there. Captain Chaos may be there, or not, or may be a newly signed up Collingwood supporter, as the mood takes him. Plenty of regulars have said they will come too.

Update: The Newport Jazz Festival May 2nd and May3rd, 2020

Bands: We now have over 25 bands signed up – and it looks like 50 may not be pie in the sky.

The Committee: rolls from hiccup to hiccup: this week saw Deb unwell, the Captain contemplating eye surgery, Julian retiring. We desperately (or not so desperately) seeking someone to take up the reins on the roles of Treasurer and Marketing guru.

The Website hasn’t crashed yet! God knows I’ve tried, but it looks increasingly likely that it will still be working when Jess gets back from the UK.

Check it out:-

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

Just in Time for Christmas: music suppliers:

Looking for that last minute present idea, or just got a saxophone with a busted reed?

Dropped that microphone once too often, or sound like a bullfrog singing through a bowl of soup?

Gone twang when ya bass should have gone boink?

South Melbourne is blessed with a fine array of music related shops – and we have picked three of them that Jammers have used in the past – they might be worth a visit. Mention the Jazz Jammers and let them know we will be asking for support come May 2nd and 3rd- Festival time.

The Music Place: 339 Clarendon Street, practically an institution, a specialist shop for brass and wind players, once owned by David Temby, passed through the capable hands of Brett Willis, and now has a young, enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff offering a range of services for saxophonisti, il trumpettore and other musos of that ilk or similar.

The Music Place are past sponsors of the Castlemaine Jazz Festival.

The shop has had a makeover, there is still a goodly display of a wide range of instruments, John Coltrane (actually it might just have been someone who thought they were John Coltrane) was trying out stuff last time I was there – and the staff seem to encourage that sort of thing…

Bass Centre: 173 Park Street. A short stroll from the Music Place, a specialist shop for bass players and their like. Get past the fairly modest exterior, and you will be visually assaulted by all things bass – axes hanging on the walls, boxes on the floor waiting for shipment – the place is fairly buzzing, and has been for 30 years. This one comes recommended by bass players in the know – and the staff modestly claim to be the best bass centre in Australia, although there used to be a shop near Fitzroy Crossing – it was shut on the day I went there. So was Fitzroy Crossing.

Whatever, South Melbourne is definitely the music centre of Melbourne, where The Bass Centre deals in both new and used equipment, and given its high turnover, constantly has quality stock on show.

Guy Palmer, Store Manager

They can be contacted by phone on 03 9696 6561, email at info@basscentre.com.au, live chat, or can talk to you face to face in the store (old school!)

https://www.basscentre.com.au/pages/about-us

Factory Sound: 75 – 85 York Street: where Jammers get a fair bit of their gear: this shop is bursting with a huge range of amps, mixers, speakers, mics, you name it, they got it. You get the same good service if you spend $100 or $100,000 – I know, because I have done both.

Tip: the in house range of Factory Sound leads and cables come with a life time guarantee, and are as good as, if not better than, commercial cables in fancy packaging. We use them at the jams…

The Jammers Bit: An Experiment

What an appalling day for a jam session: buckets of rain just when we were arriving, and surely not many musos would be so desperate as to arrive in this downpour.

Never underestimate the depths to which a musician in need of a blow will sink, say I. We had a quorum well before 4.00, and by the end of a very long day, had 30 musos get up and trip the light fantastic, metaphorically, of course.

The Experiment: Just to make sure no-one knew what we were doing, we tried using a clipboard – wrote down everyone’s names as they rocked up, in the mistaken assumption that we would then get everyone more or less equal playing time in the order in which they arrived. Sort of. Didn’t work entirely to plan, of course, partly because we hadn’t got the plan in the first place, and partly because musicians tend to arrive in ones and twos, and not, as would have been most helpful, in band – sized chunks.

Dream on! We will try it again. Let’s face it, we did manage to get through all 30, and still get home in time for a brief snooze before breakfast. We are saving time – necessary as numbers increase, by cutting down on solos, (one or two per tune, but not the eight we had the previous week) while still trying to give all (and not just a few) soloists individual playing time.

Gilbert, cool as ever, waiting his turn

Sound: The sound system worked well from the start. This is always ominous, as the only way to go is downhill from there, which it did. Next week, we will pay particular attention to the vocals , if not the vocalists themselves. The foldbacks, however, worked well, which was a strange experience for all of us.

Highlights of the day? For me, Will, Satsuko and Guy (sax/sax/tpt) put up a hot set. Malcolm managed to stick with the PA/foldback speakers – first time he has played without the Roland amp, but really, the sound was better, and better balanced.

Will, Guy and (?) Satsuko put up a hot set

Lisette played her usual immaculate self, with a touch of suave, if not an arpeggio or three.

John Perri seems to have hit a purple patch and again drummed beautifully. Mac and Hussein not far behind him.

There were far too many vocalists for the Captain’s liking (I wonder how many he does like?) but he persisted and got them all up. Newcomers Fiona and Anne the Second were terrific. Gilbert and Yuko in particular copped a dodgy mic channel, which the brains trust attempted to remedy by adjusting, then disconnecting the Bass channel. I cannot imagine why this wouldn’t work…but it surely didn’t. Sorry chaps, will do better next week.

All About the Bass: Ivan played most of the arvo, never missed a beat and was pick of the day.

Definitely a bigger and better jam – the standard of the music was consistently higher than usual.

The Jammers Bit

Perhaps the third busiest Jam Session since the Dizzy’s days: 29 musos, and a goodly crowd.

There were first timers, old hands, old friends returning, a reinvigorated Gentleman John Curtis, Sir Roger De Coverley’s disreputable descendant, POCKOTL, a drummer from New Zealand, and a heckofalot of St Kilda bright young things enjoying the sunshine, the music and an exotic range of Toby’s cocktails.

All in Mac, Fermin,Alan, Jeff, Carol. Debra Yemow Pete (hiding) and Gentleman John Curtis back to his best…

All of which boded well for the arvo’s entertainment, although its seemed to take for ever to get going. Good when it did and for an unprecedented two weeks in a row, the sound system worked, sort of, most of the time.

It was an entertaining afternoon’s moo, with two new singers, Kerry and Anthea ready for the off and sang well when they got up. Curtis was, however, first splash in the pool, and led a sprightly lot in some entertaining jazz standards before retiring, temporarily of course, in favour of strong drink and mild gossip.

Break it To Me Gently – Kerry singing and a Fermin solo

Music ranged from Carole King to Cole Porter, stopping quite a few stations in between. Bassists Pete and Ivan took turns in driving the whole lot, and mastered a couple of tunes without charts to misguide them – Break it To Me Gently (Kerry) and Your Heart is As Black as Night (Jess) . James was outstanding on drums.

Great to see Carol, on crutches, but back from the facelift or whatever it was – one of the singers who is both hip and groovy?

Later in the day, Guy (trumpet) and his keyboard mate who shall remain nameless, but only because I forgot to get his name, chimed in with Blue Bossa and a coupla bebop tunes to right the balance, Kay put up a lively One Note Samba, Route 66 and Masquerade,and then Gilbert and Yuko duetted for a finale, with the Debster doing the doo wops. Eventually, we got to pack up, then sat around gossiping . Perri was the last to leave.

John Bell, Captain, Gilbert, Kay and Yuko doing the doo wops, Guy and Yemow

So… Fermin probably the pick of them on the day with some bright guitar solo work. If we didn’t mention you by name it is probably because you were too young, good looking and talented and we didn’t like to ask.

Actually, the Post rocked for a coupla hours – a goodly effort all round.

Black Notes, people, they are cheaper…

The Next Jam Session

It will be at The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman, Sunday December 1st. The penultimate Post session (for 2019 anyway). Get out ya dancin boots, let’s make this one a quietly confident little afternoon bearing in mind that the following week is the Jammers Annual End of Year Bash. Quiet? Confident? Fiddlesticks, should be a train wreck…

See ya there anyway?

The Jammers Annual Christmas Bash. Sunday 8th December – be there!

Yep, its that time of year when the jammers for the past year get together for one final lash before taking a break until mid January. We will be meeting for lunch at the Post at 1.00pm, on Sunday 15th December – and will start making the traditional festive Appalling Racket shortly thereafter.

For the Jammers, prizes will be awarded for such things as general silliness, special silliness, silliness under pressure, most promising new comer, most promising old comer, and the coveted Award for No Particular Reason.

Inverloch Jazz Festival news

E mail below, received from the Inverloch Committee – click on the link to get to their website. Inverloch has a well earned reputation as a friendly and well-run Festival – Jam session attendees playing at the Festival will include Roger Clark, Annie Smith, and a bunch of others. The Captain, meself, and Ivan the bass will be playing for Katerina Myskova

Hello all you jazz lovers,
I have attached some information about next year’s Inverloch Jazz Festival in the hope that it could be passed around to those who may be able to join us for some great jazz over the March long weekend in 2020.All the information jazz enthusiasts need is now on the Inverloch Jazz Festival website:  inverlochjazzfestival.com

Cheers,Carolyn Nield

Inverloch Jazz Festival Committee

The Newport Jazz Festival May 2nd and May 3rd, 2020

Bands: The Captain already has the first 15 bands signed up -and we are upping the ante to include at least 50 bands. Soon, we will be posting details of signed up bands on the website.

The Committee: the Debster is doing a great job as Secretary – who’da thought she would be that good. Julian (treasurer) is hitting his straps now we have some early payments coming in, and Col and I are going out lunch, only we call it marketing.

We are also looking for someone to join the Committee. Interested?

The Word – seems to be getting out. Yippee!

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

And it is lunchtime again.. toodlepip!

Yippee! The Jam Session Update

The sheer bloody relief of having a sound system that works, and works well – after weeks of struggling to find enough positives in the sessions to outweigh the negatives… I got to the Post at around 3.45, having already been there in the morning for the sound set up. Well, it was a niceish sort of day, not much else to do, might as well drop in for the usual social lubricant, bit of a chat, that sort of thing…

The Captain looked somewhat ill at ease – turns out this was because he didn’t need to change a thing and already had 10 bucks on the outcome.

Started quiet as usual – couple of drummers (Alan Richards and Michael Findlay, Hussein and John Perri) and not too many bass players. That didn’t last long – we had Lisette for the opening stanza, Jess and Jane up for some vocals – and the whole damn shebang… at last… started to sound pretty good.

John Perri and Ivan

Photo by Michael Findlay

The regulars fronted – Jane, Yuko, Annie, Gilbert, on the tonsils, Alan , Laurie and Jeff joining Capt. Chaos on the saxophollicles (although Jeff switched to floot and played up a beauty), Fermin and Yemow on guitar, and relative newcomer John Bell on trumpet/flugelhorn.

Highlights of the day included:

  • Having a good time
  • Lisette Payet on keyboard
  • Great singing from seven different singers – I think Yuko shaded Susie for most improved, but they were all good.
  • John Bell (trumpet) starting to hit his straps.
  • A saxophone section kept busy all afternoon
  • The pub jumping, with a lot of family groups enjoying the music, and a packed sunny courtyard
  • Having more of a good time
  • Devon too busy in the kitchen to get out and sing
  • The bar staff clearly enjoying the music
  • Vlad winning a prize for most colourful jacket

25 musos on the day, all good – ya wouldn’t be dead fer quids!

Vlad and the famous coat…
John the trumpet, Jeff and Yuko

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