Jazz Is Dead?

One sometimes wonders whether a pattern is emerging in the Gold Street Gossip Shop sessions, hailing as they do from the epicentre of cultural alternativeness in the northern wastes of Colliwobble. Most weeks, we seem to start with a bout of amnesia, therefore thinking that we can actually play (and I use the word loosely, as Hortense might say) a couple of numbers in the tempo di dubious from the book of songswotColknows, before settling down to the usual fare of Autumn  66, Summer Leaves and Root something or other…

Each tune becomes more mangled than the last, until eventually we all fall over from exhaustion, pack up and go home to recover. Every week. Every week.

But not last week. In another first, I heard not a single bum note, no five bar fours, nary a peep of complaint from Colonel T (retd) about why we were not playing everything at 220bpm, in three different keys and  four different tempos not counting the guitarist, because let’s face it, not many guitarists do count these days…

Singers sang, I heard no bars dropped, saxaphones soloed so quietly you could hear a pin drop, at least from where I was listening, drummers could have been heard to murmur ” No, after you, no really, would you like me to play a little quieter?” and even the bass players would have smiled.

Damn, I was getting away with until that last remark, which is recognisably beyond the bounds of possibility. Alright, I might not have been there. Jazz isn’t dead after all, unless the Jam Session really was that predictable.

Which of course, it was not.

I’m off to the pub…



Jam Session News: There isn’t any, the Editor has gone AWOL, and the extra 3b reserve copy boy is off to the land of the long white pom…

Other than that, last week’s jam, much enlivened by the absence of Messrs Chaos and Kuhn, started quiet, stayed quiet mostly, and was rather fun all arvo.. by the time we had finished, 22 musos had had a dip, nothing got broken and nobody died…

In yet another first, we opened proceedings with a new singer, Carol, accompanied by a new pianist, Kay, and an old bass player, Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (retd). Putting tyros together is a recipe for disaster, but fortunately, none of the jammers can cook, and it all turned out rather well..

Colonel T, who gave up a promising career as a bus conductor on the No 436 to Hemel Hempstead, or not as the case may be, was still playing bass some 4 hours and 15 minutes later, having carried his bat through the whole schemozzle. Fine effort made all the sweeter by the eponymous Mr T actually playing some swing tunes properly, possibly as a joke, whilst failing to get a dollar for every time he had to play Summertime.

In between which, there was some fine sax from Paul, and Alan West, Jack Morris on his extendable large trumpet, Lisette, Geoff , Peter , and Richard on keys, no guitarists for a change, Bill, Steve, Michael and some young dude on drums, Kevin on tonsils, a cameo from Chrissie and Bruce, which elicited the inevitable “turn it effing down” from the management, and fine sets on tonsils from the Debster and Donna.

The evening ended late with the inevitable Route 66 massed choir (well, Debster, Donna and Chrissie anyway) and a final trot through People Get Ready.

Next week sees a whole new ball game. Due to a scheduling cock-up, the Editor has gone to the Gorbals or something, the extra 3 B reserve copyboy is off to see his aged aunt in Oxfordshire and Captain Chaos has run out of pencils. Which leaves Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Jazz Jammers Newsletter since 2008, deathly quiet and slightly deserted, and us all a bit stumped for how next week’s Newsletter might turn out. Maybe Madge from Altona will see to it.

Should be a corker…toodlepip!

Jam Session News: Getting better, or trying or something… and another week in the salt mines to follow…

There are many, many Jam Sessions which are carefully planned, scrupulously organised and meticulously focussed on, generally, “modern” jazz, which, for reasons which escape me, means jazz first performed by African American heroin addicts some time between 1954 and about 1966, and slavishly copied by middle class kids in Jazz courses the world over ever since.

The Lunatic Soup Lounge Session is not one of those… as I discovered when I sauntered through the door last Sunday arvo, to be greeted by the bizarre sight of Colonel T on keys and Sir Roger De Coverly, the cad, swing his black sax around, Captain Chaos having retired to the bar, his work apparently done.

Disorder was soon restored, and there followed yet another afternoon of dubious music, from the likes of Paul (sax), Laurie (“my sax is bigger than yours”), Ashley (sax, and that’s my mum over there), the avuncular Kevin (guitar), Ann (floot, and that’s my daughter over there), Billondrums when Michael wasn’t, Il Duce on drums for a while, Doug, Ivan and Peter all on basses of various types and persuasions, and later cameos from Lisette, John (piano) and Alex (drums) although in truth I had left before the latter two got going.

In summary, an enjoyable session, no great heights aspired to, or reached, but some diverse and entertaining music making along the way; and always that thought that next week, maybe, something different will happen.

It hardly ever does, of course, but the jams are sustained by a dash of enthusiasm, as little competence as we can get away with, and warm applause for someone who just got better, or tried, or something. That sort of thing can set you up for another week in the salt mines.

See ya Sunday?

Jam Session News: One out of the box

Before you know it, the daffodils will be out, the flannelled fools will be ironing a crease, and the ski bunnies will be bouncing off rocks again. In the meantime, where better to be on a cold winter’s day than sucking on social lubricant in the back bar of the Gold Street Lizard Lounge? Don’t answer that..

So, one out of the box? It was indeed. Arrived remarkably early, for me, as I was only ten minutes late; to be confronted by Captain Chaos proposing to open proceedings with a jaunt through Monk’s Round Midnight. Weird way to start the day, but it turns out that newcomer Paul (sax) had requested same, so away we went – no drummer, the Haircut on bass, and meself on keys. By the third chorus, the Captain had wisely dropped out to listen, and Paul was blowing up a storm. Young Michael waltzed in, so drums sorted for the second effort, Stella by Starlight. Even hotter, and on a tune we can normally completely bugger up without even trying. There followed 15 minutes or so of some of the most enjoyable jazz, setting the tone for an afternoon of strangely high standard. We can fix it, we can fix it…

Very few singers, all of them called Kevin, but a plethora of saxes – the Captain, of course, aforementioned Paul, Jason Chalmers and his oppo Stuart back from a gig, Peter Cole – all good, and at times exceptional. Peter took over on keys, then Lisette and John; Hurch then Alex on drums, and for once, bliss, no guitarists off the beat, just Ray Hood the original lounge lizard beating up the amp, then playing up a storm. Ivan took over from the Haircut, Peter had a dip on electric bass, and the rhythm section fair ripped through the arvo. Eventually I went missing, exhaustion having got the better of me, but the drive home gave me time to reflect on the day’s proceedings:

· No train wrecks: not one, not even close.

· Hardly any swing, plenty of bebop tunes: we only play these when Col T (retd) is awol. No one knows why…

· Some classy music: checked the address, must be some sort of misunderstanding.

Of course, next week, even the politicians will be back to normal, in honour of which we will undoubtedly be playing Autumn Leaves, and Summertime, before finishing off with Route 66.

Stay classy. And stick to the black notes, they’re cheaper…

From the Clinic

The rehabilitation clinic for the tone deaf resumed on Sunday at the Leinster Arms after a quiet week with so many away at the Castlemaine Jazz Festival.

Early on I spied Roger “vote 1 Tories” Clark with his alto saxophone, Doug “I don’t play loud LSD Funk Rock” Kuhn on bass ; Sam “too loud and I‘ll quit” Izzo on keys and new face Michael who admitted he knew nothing about jazz drumming on the drums.

I took up the guitar at the Capitano of Chaos’ behest and a few interesting Continue reading

Jazz Jam Report Sunday June 5th 2016

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival is in progress and so far I have been to the Esperanza Spalding gig which I enjoyed and to check out the lovely Sarah MacLaine at Dizzy’s with Brian Abrahams on drums and vocal on “ Lush Life”. It is a fine time for live music fans and gives me something to cling to while I wait for the snow season to actually bring some snow for my outdoor winter adventures.

The Jazz Jam a.k.a the sheltered workshop for D.I.Y. musical lobotomy patients started in a very quiet and understaffed fashion. Newcomer Bill was on drums and a kind of blank bewilderment during the trading of fours with the Capitano of chaos who blew his horn and this scribe played the bassline and the chords simultaneously using each hand on the keyboard. Continue reading

At The Leinster

I have bought a looper pedal and if I can get the hang of using it,then I may start having live appearances backing myself times 6. Woe betide me if I split up with myself and have to send the looper pedal to the second hand pedal graveyard on E bay!!.

The sheltered workshop for the survivors of DIY musical lobotomies and tonal dyslexics reconvened after a period of seven days. Time wounds all and by Saturday I was telling myself that maybe they will play a Wayne Shorter composition that was written quite recently, i.e. Something from less than 50 years ago would be selected and truly mangled again. Continue reading

From Somewhere inside the Leinster Arms

I was out there hiking in the less visited wilderness that is the North of Wilson’s Prom over the Easter long weekend. I don t have to do that again and when the trauma of pushing through 60 km of virgin scrub with 25 kgs strapped to my torso has receded like the tide, then I will be fit and semi sane enough to take on the Grampians during the ANZAC day long weekend.

Meanwhile, the sheltered workshop for the tone deaf, rhythmic dyslexics and do it yourself musical lobotomy patients resumed after the Easter break.

The Jam session started slowly Continue reading

Heartless Treatment of Jammers – He orta be asshamed!

Our more usual correspondent seems incapable this week of dictating his usual drivel to anyone in his team of personal attendants. This unfortunate state of affairs is liable to lead to unforeseen circumstances. It is rumoured that this absence of copy has been caused at least in part from switching his previous imbibulation from the glass to direct intravenous methods. This has left him somewhat more incapacitated than normal if normal is word that can be used in his current situation or even any situation. Mention of his current situation reminds me that he was recently seen swanning around multi-storey accommodation that overlooks Fawkner Park doubtless he was after one of the many suites they have there.

Ah well we will see what happens next week.

Oh! And break a leg Ted.


It’s a Mess!

One cannot but express a begrudging admiration for the myriad new ways that people at the jazz jam can come up with fresh approaches to ruining some half decent songs from the old new real fake book. Despite years of musical training and study, or almost none, the aficionados of the sheltered workshop for the musical dyslexics at the Leinster Arms are the true maestros of musical train wrecks. Continue reading

Jam Session News: Well, we had fun…

Glen was looking a little troubled when I wandered, late, into the Lunatic Arms Jazz Division Headquarters – try escaping St Kilda when the Jazz Festival and you’ll find out why I didn’t get there at 4.00pm on the dot as planned..

Ah well, the A Team all away at Hall’s Gap pretending to be real musicians, leaving just the loafers (us) to fiddle about for a while… and what fun it turned out to be – opening stanza, newbie Matt on drums, left early, possibly with bleeding ears, to be replaced by the irreplaceable Monsieur Sebastian, who took the threat of an even louder drummer quite seriously before settling down to an afternoon of fine music in the company of :

Peter on piano trying out an unrehearsed chart for the first time ,
Another Peter on bass,
Kay de Darwin on tonsils giving the songbook a real workout,
Mauriccio and Anita on guitar,
…and a bunch of others, meself included

Fifteen musos on a day when the regulars are away is quite remarkable. The afternoon ended in a fine “sod it, why not moment?” with Fermin, Robert and Mauriccio all on guitars, and a whole bunch of musos murdering, and I do mean murdering Route 66.

Sometimes, moving the prima donnas to one side lets a whole bunch of others get a chance to shine. And shine they did. Me, I just propped up the bar and enjoyed it.

Nice one, lads

Next week’s Jam will see the return of the Halls Gap Heroes, all of whom played brilliantly, I am told. And the Colonel will be back from not falling off a mountain, looking disgustingly fit and tanned, and if you want to be part of the schemozzle, just turn up around 4.00pm.

220bpm indeed!

Jamming at the Lunatic Soup Lounge: Despatch from the Colonel

The Jazz Jam at the Leinster Arms Hotel on 31st of January 2016 had an improved attendance, with a better spectrum of people who claimed to be musicians who played or tried to play various instruments. There were not just singers and drummers who are really the people who hang around with musicians. Early on in the proceedings the standard was dragged down by this scribe sitting in on drums.

Many songs of Pre Swing era antiquity were trotted out despite protestations from this scribe. Jazz has moved on, Miles Davis went electric and freaky, Weather Report hired Jaco Pastorius and Charles Mingus never got a nice friendly lift music Kenny Gee kind of attitude about anything, but alas some people missed that and keep missing it. Well ignore what happened after 1933 at your own peril I say. That was also the year Hitler came to power.

The highlights were thin on the ground as most material was duly mangled and turned into a what V Line call ‘quality’ and ‘punctuality ‘ , but Alex Jarosh on Guitar playing “Stella By Starlight “ was almost something that resembled jazz music . The vocalists included : Chris Manetta (vocals) who put “ I put a spell on you “ through the Jazz jam blender with Bruce still impersonating a drummer; Kevin the bespectacled warbler who thrives on skipping multiple bars of music (if this is an act of kindness then we thank you for getting it over with sooner rather than later); Jill who was backed by Marek and yours truly on drums and electric precision bass respectively and made “ Cly me a Libber” ( the tired old Korean karoke standard) more interesting than usual. Thanks to Mark who came down from Castlemaine (smooth vocals) and the other warblers ,scatting groovers and crooners who stepped up.

Pianists included : Ted Woollan; Sam Izzo ; Gentleman John Curtis ; Adrian of the The Elwood Blues Club. Reeds and “blow in one end and hope for the best” kind of instruments were played by Captain Chaos, who ignored the “ Chameleon” form and finished the song on the 2nd time around thereby avoiding the the coda instructions on the chart; and Keef on saxophone. Uncle Jack Morris played some neat trombone. Playing Music keeps you young. It uses the brain in ways that are a healing force, although those of us whosometimes listen may be more scarred than healed.

Newcomers… plenty responded to the ad. placed in that teenage heavy metal cyber space positions vacant kind of web page “Mel band”. These included : First timers Tim ( busy double bass); Matt , the extroverted 3 pot screamer who played over other people’s singing and solos and should have stuck to that. Try the ginger beer next time. Rob Lewis, silver haired guitar God, Bass player Peter with the pony tail,who played electric bass in the trial by fire that is often the sink or swim initiation at train wreck central, Mauricio (guitar) from Chile, with the lovely Anita – the first Chilean musos that I can remember at a jam.

As the last month of summer appears, and we grow older but only marginally wiser, we can but hope for more music to be heard at the jazz jam next week, or settle for what happens instead. You will have to bear witness to these crimes against music if you wish to report them to the relevant authority.

The next Jam Seesion is on Sunday 7th February, at the Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood, from 4 – 7.30pm