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.

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.


Tales From the Pantry & Other Jam Sessions

Long ago (BC) in a land where The Post and the Tower were hangouts for infamous musicians learning their trade and for those who were Hallmarks of their trade, and those who could teach those who were finding their way in the Kingdom of Jazz. One Sunday, which will go down in the annals of history, was noted for its multicultural mixture of Mediaeval Knights of razzamatazz who had fallen in love with the wickedly juicy and enticing melodies that fed their souls.

You could feel the heat from the kitchen. Continue reading →

Down the bass rabbit hole with Ivan

Some samples from Ivan Sultanoff, regular jammer, occasional ski instructor. We have added some youtube url’s of each player – picked at random, but they are all addictive …

Just a few tips for bass players to look up, for instance for electric bass, look up on YouTube the following :

Scott’s bass lessons, deals with famous bass lines of various hotshot bass players, explains and shows bass lines in sections slow,up to speed , you can sign up.

John Patitucci- superb stuff on electric and upright bass, you can look up various clinics, I met John twice,had a good bass chat and was in one of his clinics in person and discovered he studied classical bass with my teacher I had at Guildhall School. …….


Christian Mc Bride- upright bass phenomenal playing, again lots of material on YouTube


Niels-Osted Pederson- Christian Mc Bride playing Bye Bye Blackbird , just go through the clips


Richard Bona- electric bass, this guy is an absolute comedian on bass in a good sense of word, his playing is just something, met him in person- nice guy, witty, funny bass nut…..


Joe Zawinul Syndicate is a groove orientated band with some serious keyboard and percussion stuff, he used Bona, Pastorius, Williams, Bailey etc as bass players, once you start going through all this you might be amazed at what you find.


Stanley Clarke-both upright and electric, wonderful stuff


MarcusMiller- slap bass – no need to comment, just find him and get upset how fantastic slapper he is.


Victor Wooten- the list goes on, good luck with all that.


If anyone wishes to communicate further , don’t hesitate —

Huich Bar Ousso, and whatever happened to the Junk

And this received from our regular violinist, who has been getting out and about.

“I haven’t been doing too much jazz lately, I got slightly distracted by some other music to learn. I’ve been getting back into a bit of folk fiddling Irish, and old-time but the americaness of it makes me feel a bit of an outsider., more so than other music – maybe it’s because I attended this online music camp that is usually held in Florida and the Americans talk about it like one knows everything about America. Just trying to keep my fingers in action. It’ll be so good to play with people again, doing recordings really doesn’t cut it!

I was lucky enough to play at Bar Oussou on the eve of Stage 3 restrictions. Actually I went there to support my friends because by that time they were locking down individual suburbs and I thought that they would have a hard time getting an audience. Then they invited me to play with them and it was a really beautiful night. Here is a clip of what we did:


Please take care, and definitely will see you one day, it’s a question of when not if.”

Best wishes,


ps: I happened to go by the Junktion Hotel 2 days ago and the building has been sold! Unbelievable!

Pete goes metaphysical…

Pete Micevski has been a bass stalwart and regular jammer for years, one of few who have carried their bat for a full session

What day is it? Are we still in 2020? … all I can say is wow, looks like we are headed into a new matrix (reality) after this Lock-Down ends, and I don’t mean that lightly, I say hold on folks, because this Lock-Down might just be the precursor of what’s to come. Crazy isn’t it?

How is everyone? I hope you are all doing well and staying safe. Finally, musicians get that precious time needed to practice (there needs to be some positivity in this pandemic) and I’m sure you’re probably doing just that, and have been running those fingers, hands and tonsils a million miles an hour.

However, I’d like to share some things about music that may help you along your journey of development, a different spice….

Stop all that practising and playing … yes you heard me right stop. Have a break people, from music. Space and not playing anything is probably more important than consistently playing … life is the same, we need a break, this gives us that time to reflect. Music is the same, we need to reflect on what we’re playing and doing this in real time is probably the hardest thing of all, taking that break gives us time and space to discover the undiscovered.

Here is an exercise for the daring,

  • Week 1, don’t play your instrument for one week, don’t even think about it
  • Week 2, don’t play your instrument another week, this time only think about the various things you where working on or what you could work on
  • Week 3, get back to playing your instrument, observe and reflect on that feeling

Stop listening to all that jazz – when it come to music “the world is your oyster”. When you branch out to what you normally wouldn’t listen to, there is so much to discover. Closing yourself off from the world of music is not healthy, by expanding your music horizon you stand to expand your music vocabulary. Learning songs other than jazz helps us better discover our voices, as our voices are built through the notes we select to play.

So, stop playing start discovering and grow





I have a confession to make: my name is Luis, and I am a “chartaholic”. I depend on charts to play music. I know that it is a shame for a musician that is trying to play jazz, but this is my personal and pathetic truth. And I need to acknowledge it before I try to heal it. My guilt is enormous, gigantic. My shame, bigger than me. I used to walk into the jam sessions sliding like a snake, with my soprano in one hand and my iPad in the other. Yes, my iPad!, my sin!!, the place where all my charts are stored!

It all started when I was a musically illiterate kid in the fascist Spain of the early sixties. You know? Those guys killed people, killed culture and killed education. Spain was a wasteland and we didn’t know it.

One day, visiting uncle Arturo, there was a piano and, by I don’t know what sort of accident, I got interested on it, managed to make some sort of sense of the keyboard to come up with some poor one-finger melodies. My father caught me on that suspicious activity and, instead of punishing me, he sent me to the Conservatory (for some weird reason we had one on the middle of the dictatorship, something to do with the education of the aristocracy, I believe).

And that was the beginning of the end. By then, I was playing a bit of recorder and a bit of guitar, all by ear and self-taught (not in the school, off course, there we hadn’t such weird subjects). And I could even sing in tune! But then came literacy to fuck it up. You want to know what was my first and biggest sin? I’ll tell you: to believe the teachers that told me that the music was that weird written thing on the paper. Since then, I made a terrible effort to forget my ears and my instinct, put on the corset of sol-fa and start musically dying slowly for the rest of my life.

Now I am a literate, sol-fa-ed, fat-ass, white man, trembling in front of a music stand, trying to make sense of charts, while I fight back my instincts, my ear and whatever debris of talent that may have survived my education. Pathetic, I tell you.

But I also have some good news (top secret this one): I have learned to let my intuition fly over the charts up to the point that most of the time, when I improvise, I feel like that illiterate kid and play by ear. Don’t tell anyone in the Conservatory, please. To my Conservatory friends I talk about scales, modes, the 9th, the 11th, the 13th, chord substitutions and all that bullshit that I don’t really understand.

And also have another confession: that kind of childish behaviour is not of any comfort for my chartaholic personality. I know, it’s sad. Because, even though I improvise mostly by ear, I can’t get rid of my charts. You take my iPad, and is like putting a chart to a guitar player: I become silent (my apologies, Fermín and fellow guitarists, this is just a friendly bad saxophonist joke).

And this is happening to me in a world where everybody knows that the “real thing” is what sounds, and that the written chart is only a kind of map of the territory, but not the territory! And I know that as well; but can’t help it – I’m a chartaholic, I need my charts, I need my iPad. That is my personal fate.

But, wait a second, you know what? I still blame fascism for my “chartaholism”.

L Chacon

Jack Morris: a career

“I started playing Trombone in a small village brass band in England called Ardley at the age of 14.

Jack the tonsil (2)

I was very keen to improve and practiced so hard that, by the age of 18, I was accepted into the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. I served for 5years, and during this time played at the Albert Hall and the Empress Hall on many occasions, Before the end of my service in 1953 I played in the RAF Band outside of the gates of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Coronation.

I also played in a 20 piece Stan Kenton style Band in and around the London area.

On the return to my home town I played in a 5 piece Dance Band, a Town Brass Band and a small Symphony Orchestra.

I arrived in Sydney on the 25th July 1968 as an immigrant. During the 2 years there I played in Terry Eldon’s Big Band as 1st Trombone, and in a Night Club Band. I then moved to New Zealand in 1970 and joined the Manawatu Big Band and also formed the Ram Jam Big Band which was more Funk.

In 1977, I moved to Auckland to join the Royal Navy Band for a 5 year stint, and formed the Jack Morris Big Band and gigged around the North Island and at Jazz Festivals. At the same time I played with a trad group in and around Auckland. That Jack Morris Big Band is still active, having performed at many venues in the Auckland area.

I returned to Melbourne in 1995 and played with the Diamond Valley Big Band for some 2 years, also with The Let’s Dance Big Band, also the Musicians Club Big Band until I moved to Seaford near Frankston in 1997 and formed the Jack Morris Big Band and performed at the Mornington Peninsula and other Jazz Festivals, I relinquished my position as MD in 2007 and bequeathed the Band to one of the members.

Since that time I have moved up to Northcote residing in a Retirement Village and have played on occasions with Musical Ensembles, visited and played at the Jazz Jammers at some of their Venues. At the moment I am the MD for the Port Phillip Big Band.

There you are Ted, you have plenty of crap to go through, and I haven’t mentioned my singing.

Jack Morris

The summary version: Jack is a long time jammer, one of only three trombonists we have had in the last 12 years.He started playing trombone for the RAF during the Second World War. We won. He then played at the Coronation, which still went ahead, and with Stan Kenton, whose career survived. He moved to Sydney in 1968, about the same time the Australian Cricket team moved to England. England drew the series. He played in the Navy Band in New Zealand, but nothing sank, so he returned to Australia, eventually playing at jam sessions as the only Music Director we have ever had, so he must have been the worst…

At an age when he should know better, he is now Music Director of the Port Phillip Show Band (Captain Chaos on 3rd clarinet or something) which is a pretty hot outfit.

Throughout his long and varied career, he has rarely been complimented on his singing…

Go Jack!


Debbie is a regular jammer, Secretary for the Newport Jazz Festival Committee and runs a peripatetic outfit called Bootleg Daze. She has a unique ability to light up an audience with her smile.

Everybody’s got to start somewhere, right?

I’ve been thinking lately about the issue of starting as a beginner and then (hopefully) getting better as a performer.

For me, this is what the jam sessions are all about, so I’m prepared to cut some slack for the beginner singers, for the drummers who really don’t know their bossa from their swing (yet), and the three-chord keyboard players. We were all like that once. Some of us still are.

I’ve heard some grumbling in the past from audience members when there’s a train wreck, or the singer can’t find the right key (yes, that was me). I’ve been guilty of wincing myself sometimes, but c’mon people, we’ve got to nurture the new talent! Except possibly for the multitude of vocalists, who keep enthusiastically turning up (pre-COVID) and expecting to get a slot when there’s just not enough hours in the session to fit them all in (tip – turn up early).

I well remember (sort of) the first time I got up to sing at a jam session. It was at Dizzy’s in Burnley, when John Curtis was running the jams. I needed two glasses of red to get up the nerve (that’s why “sort of”) and I expect I sounded like it, too. John was very gracious and so I came back the next week, when he was gracious again.

Everybody was (gracious I mean, or at least they didn’t tell me how awful I was) and I reckon for those of us who’ve started out as jazz newborns and grown up a bit (or at least older), it’s up to us to give a hand to the newer newbies.

Certainly while I’ve been coming, since that La Pena days, through the Glasshouse, Leinster Arms, The Junktion and The Post, I’ve noticed regulars who have improved from being “give him/her a chance, s/he’s still a beginner” to “actually, you’re pretty good – want to join a band?”.

So I’m looking forward to being able to get together with all the regulars, sink a few, sing in an inebriated fashion and clap enthusiastically those whose best performances are still to come.



Breath meets the larynx and this is ‘Vocal Attack’

One of a series of articles on singing, from Ebony Rose

The vocal chords are living tissue and need to be used carefully. ( Avoid sudden shouting or gravel sounds as this causes strain). Hear the sounds mentally before you release them….


Inhale expanding the lungs……when breath goes through the larynx and vocal chords energy, vibration, sound, and pitch come into play. We are also using our resonators (air cavities, throat mouth nose and sinuses.


When a guitar is played you strum the strings.A Vocalist must find the power and know where to resonate from in the facial cavity. Fasinating really as no teacher can show you exactly how to do it!


It is something we must feel and learn…


Remember that moment when you found the tone and pitch resonating in the right part of your face, forehead and at the same time you are using the diaphragm to control the depth and resonance…..the sound is so much better!


Stay tuned for the Vocal Chords!


All Love Ebonyrose xx

How I was introduced to the jazz jammers

Singer Aimee Everett


Sala was the one who introduced me to the jam sessions. We had met online. I have always been keen to meet musically minded people, but not sure where to find them. The drum set in his profile picture caught my attention and I thought I would try and befriend this stranger. For about three weeks, we messaged each other and discussed music and occasionally sent each other an audio recording of ourselves.

Having a mutual musical interest, we thought it would be fitting for our first meet up to be music related, so we ended up meeting at Yarraville pop-up Park watching the Concerteenies. Sala invited me to come down to the jam session the following day, which I did. He bought me a drink and encouraged me to get up and sing. I can’t recall the songs I sang or how well I sang them (note sure if that was due to the drinks or the nerves), but I remember how friendly and warm everyone was. Since then, I have been one of the regulars at the jam sessions.

Hope everyone is safe and well and I looking forward to seeing you once we return to a ‘new normal’