The Tower Hotel Jam Session is on this Sunday 29th November from 4.00pm

Definitely happening, although it was a close run thing. We try, laughably, to get things right in the newsletter, at least within the bounds of imaginative feasibility. This week, we thought we had got it wrong and wrote a heart rending article about how the Tower Hotel had been unable to confirm the Jam Session. Some of you may have heard this. We were, as it turns out, wrong about being wrong. The Tower confirmed late on Wednesday.

Yippee – pin back yer lug ‘oles and mosey on down to

The Tower Hotel
686 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn East VIC 3123
Sunday 29th November, 4.00pm to 8.00pm

Try not to hang around in the TAB, Smoking Balcony or Pokies Parlour – we will be in the Bistro, at the pointy end of the Tower, you will see what I mean when you get there.

Room Limits: I think we will be limited to 45 peeps, so an early start is recommended

Contact Tracing: It is up to the Hotel to provide a system for recording your presence, but if all else fails, we will have a manual system, comprising a clipboard and a Bic. You will need to record name and phone number, possibly time of arrival, time of departure, driving licence number, inside leg measurement and address of your best friend’s mate’s dentist. You may get the impression that we are not entirely sure about this, but will have it sorted by Sunday.

Face Masks: Should you wear a mask? Indoors, not socially distanced, yes. As a kindness to others, particularly if you have been hit with the ugly stick. Saxophone players and their ilk may remove masks for the purposes of making as much noise as possible.

The Openers: To settle you lot down, we will be starting with the incomparable Annie Smith, with Malcolm Hornby on keys, Dave Taylor on double bass, and Mike Hirsh on drums. What a line up! After their opening set, the glide path will be gently downhilll as everyone else (that’s you!) joins in.

If that doesn’t float yer boat, or if you need more live music, see Music This Weekend for some suggestions on where to go instead (or as well).

Some handy links

The Newport Jazz Festival is about to be re-launched (fancy way of saying it needs editing to bring it up to date.) Amongst the gems under consideration are some revised ticketing arrangements (for the reduced capacities) and reworking the list of featured bands – a lot ot the good ones have already put their hand up.

instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021
Again, this one should spring to life in December/January as details of the Festival are established
Marg has been cross promoting the Jam Sessions and posting some intriguing links to recordings of Jazz musos of years past.

Music this weekend

We are still doing the side gigs that we originally thought would be a handy lead up to the main event – drop in and say hello… both sessions were pretty much standing room only last week.

Yuko Onishi at The Victorian Wine Centre, 22 Armstrong Street, Middle Park.

Yuko! This week, the Osakan chanteuse will lead Alan West (sax), Doug Kuhn (double bass) and TW on keys through a song book of standards.
Friday, 27th November, 5.00pm to 8.00pm

Last week’s first session, in front of a typically Middle Park crowd, way exceeded proprietor Steve’s expectations, and he has happily confirmed repeat sessions every Friday before Christmas. Expect to see different singers every week.

Katerina Myskova at the Challis Street Fandango:
This event gets better and better: Captain Chaos has arranged a fortnightly session – and an excited La Myskova returns this week. TW on Keys, Captain Chaos on sax, and Steve Martin on double bass – as relaxed a Saturday morning as you could imagine, and getting to be a hit with the locals. Limited seating so turn up early. Jamie serves the best coffee in town. Really

Challis Street Shopping Centre, cnr Challis Street and Woods Street, Newport
Saturday November 28th 10.00 am to 12.30

The Jammers Bit

About the Newsletter

The Newsletter seems to have been on an extended holiday – last out on October 4th, the longest interruption to normal since 2008. We had published every week since the last jam session, (15th March 2020), without once mentioning the Covid 19 pandemic disaster lockdown abuse of hooman rights state dictatorship isolation woe is me in particular thingy. We resolved to wait until some passably good news was available. Rather enjoyed the break.

Seriously recommended!
Some handy links

instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

Happiest bit of News this week: the NEXT JAM SESSION…


We have resolved to re-start the jam sessions at The Tower Hotel, (686 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn East VIC 3123 ), as soon as Gina’s boss lets us – we are waiting until the room limit is lifted to at least 40 people. Current betting says the first session will be on Sunday 29th November, starting at 4.00pm.

In the meantime… we have a couple of set piece gigs at Challis Street, Newport. These re-started last week with Yuko, Col, Steve Martin and meself shaking the rust off a few jazz standards at 10.00 on a Saturday morning. This is a time which in days of yore did not even exist in a musos calendar. Next session, on November 28th, will be same line up, but with Katerina Myskova singing – by special request of Jamie the proprietor.

We are also playing at the Victorian Wine Centre, 22 Armstrong Street, Middle Park, 5.00pm kickoff on Friday 20th November. We start with Aimee Everett and Deborah Salkov, with Alan West on saxophone, Kip Dale on bass and meself on mind altering substances (coffee probably)

The hope is that these side sessions will continue, at least until Christmas. We were planning a similarly covid safe routine at the Tower with Jane Little singing, Malcolm Hornby on keys and Mike Hirsh on drums. Bass player Dave Taylor. We will instead start the next full on Jam Session with this line-up for a first set. Once the standard is established, anyone else that manages to turn up will be expected to join in.

….And make a dreadful racket, in the finest traditions of the Jazz Jammers.

Jams, Jammers, Festivals: the gossip

The Post Hotel is no more.

Manager Mike posted a sad little notice to Facebook two weeks ago. The Post has not survived the lock down and is permanently closed. It was, at its best, as one of the most enjoyable venues for Jam Sessions that any of us can remember.

The Jess Dams is no more

Chanteuse Jess Dams is returning to the UK and won’t be able to make it for a jam session before she plunges variously into:

  • Permanent quarantine, probably
  • Brexit
  • Deep winter (it is both cold and dark over there)
  • The UK lock down, which isn’t, as yet, as severe as the Melbourne lockdown, which means quite probably that it will be even more severe soon.

Her most memorable singing, for me anyway, was at the one and only Narrawong gig, which raised over $2,000 for the local community Hall. She also sang at the Port Fairy Jazz Festival, and at the last gig the jammers played at the Post Hotel.

The Castlemaine Jazz Jam is still on hold

Spoke to budding impresario John Hannah last week – he is deeply engaged in running the Three Chord Club, a once a month affair at the Guilford Hotel. Jam Session sponsor and Maurocco Bar owner Mauro is, like the manager at the Tower Hotel, holding out until he can have enough punters in the joint to be able to lose money at the usual rate. January 2021 probably.

The Newport Jazz Festival is still on?

That is the Australian version – we are still proposing to make a decision mid December, but I would have to say it looks increasingly likely that we will go ahead om May 1st/2nd 2021, but in a post pandemic format.. We will be putting up an amended (e.g. Covid safe) structure with reduced audiences and bands, and are still struggling with the cost plan.

The Castlemaine Jazz Festival

Received notice of the next AGM this week. Turns out the entire previous committee resigned, leaving the President as the only elected member. He then co-opted a number of people to fill the vacancies, all of whom are now standing for election. Can’t be bothered with that rubbish any more, but it is a sad decline from the original Community festival.

Port Fairy Jazz Festival

John Huf has had to cancel for February 2021, but will be back next year, hopefully bigger and better than ever, but if it as good as last year’s it will be a great Festival anyway!

Australian Jazz Convention, Albury

The lads cancelled some time ago, although it now looks as though the border will be reopened before the Festival was originally due to happen.. December 2020 would have been their 75th anniversary, and we should all look at supporting their return in 2021

Merimbula Jazz Festival

The June 2020 Festival was cancelled, and they are proposing to return in June 2021. This Festival seemed to have taken on a new lease on life, and hopefully the pandemic has not put much of a dent in that.

Inverloch Jazz Festival

Invy probably had the best timing of all – just squeezed in their March 2020 Festival before the lock down, and had already decided to move to an August 2021 date for the next one.

The Refinery Terrace Lockup Debacle

Well, the recording was a debacle. One would have expected no less. The lockup garage door had been firmly closed, with Madge Hortense, Rotten Ronnie Junior, Trixie La Belle and a few desultory musicians inside, and the Altona Constabulary outside . The Vicar, his wife, the French onion seller and the others had, mercifully, gone home to watch daytime TV. You can even watch it at night these days..

So… Trixie, having started by noting that there were no words, or chord charts available, suggested that Was He Handsome Was I Drunk and Did Momma Give Me Hell should be sung in French, to put the others off the scent. Turns out Trixie was the daughter of a Narre Warren gasfitter, and the french accent was a fake – so that was an idea that was never going to fly.

They all opened another cask of chardonnay, and Madge cracked a catering pack of Winnie Blues to take, as she put it, the edge off.

Rotten Ronnie Junior, already three sheets to the wind, offered to sing alto, as well as play with his saxophone. His Alto was a result of the nasty blow in the Ballarat region, of which, the less said the better. Hortense, wistful as ever, misheard the bit about playing with his saxophone, offered to help. Madge, not to be outdone, sat lugubrious with another bottle of chardy and a confused merchant seaman until she could stand no more, though whether it was of the seaman or the chardonnay no-one can really say. She waded into the melee fists and all before collapsing in a heap across the mixing desk. At which point, the dials lit up and the ancient reels started to turn…

They all wondered, (me included) at this point, how the confused merchant seaman got in. Except the confused merchant seaman, who was wondering how he was going to get out.

The dog, sick of being stood upon, lit up a mournful howl. Trixie told the dog to shut up. Ronnie told Trixie to shut up. They were all so busy shouting at each other that no-one noticed the Akai slowly turning. So the whole shebang got caught on quarter inch tape. Which is what one uses when recording in a lockup at the arse end of refinery Terrace. The result? A recording that was variously described as unusual, unique, aurally challenging, and as creating a newfound respect for the original “Was I Drunk, Was He Handsome, and Did Momma give me Hell”.


Georgia White’s 1936 recording:


Madeleine Peyroux’s 1996 recording of the same song:


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