Just a bunch of bloody amateurs?

Rash promises: By the time I got to the Post at 3.00pm, I had already received three text messages from singers who had said they were coming, and then didn’t. Would anybody turn up on Easter Sunday Arvo?

It seemed, for a while, quite possibly not, while we took a good 45 minutes to set up the gear. Jeez, a power point nearby wouldn’t be too much to ask, would it. Well, yes it would.

Eventually opened the batting at 4.10, with the Debster chosen as our first singer, Kevin in at first drop. Dave Taylor on double bass, and Alan Richards on drums made for a sweet rhythm section.

Due, quite possibly, to our incompetence in setting up the gear, the sound was remarkably good all afternoon although it got a bit noisy as the place filled up. I do wish that people wouldn’t turn up and have a good time, whilst we are trying to be deadly serious, or otherwise musical. Havin’ a good time? Bah, humbug!

We stopped worrying if anyone would turn up by the time the Captain started worrying about how he would get everyone a turn at the wheel. The Post Hotel was pleasantly full by half time.

In the end we had 16 musos get up and boogie – four bassists and seven singers – with the return of Rose (Route 66), Kevin and, good grief, haven’t seen Brian in a while; Carol, newcomer Edith, and Susie. Will was the lone saxophonist, played as smooth as ever, even filled in on the drums at the close. Nice one.

Props to the Captain -who didn’t play due to a crook arm, but put hours into finding the right venue, and hopefully felt well rewarded; to Edith who admitted after singing that she had never done it before – and made a pretty fair fist of it; to Rose for recommending the venue, and to all the jammers for giving the session the thumbs up.

And a final thanks to POCKOTL, Rod and Bette – they didn’t get there until 7.00, but these are our connection to the original Dizzy’s Jam sessions. Better write an other paragraph before Bette works out how old that makes her.

Oh yes… “Just a bunch of bloody amateurs” was how I described the jammers to the landlord – so he wouldn’t be disappointed – he wasn’t, and the jammers exceeded his expectations.
See ya next Sunday​​?

Sunday Jazz at The Royal Standard, Carruthers notices it is a bit quiet…

Second session at the Royal Standard, the Captain is a bit crook and all that bumping in and out to do… and it did seem a little quiet, as Carruthers has noted many times before …

Jammers Happy – at the Royal Standard playing As Time Goes By

Still, we got things up and running on time, all except the microphone which joined us a bit later. Quite why anyone would have a switch on a microphone is beyond my limited comprehension. Certainly made life hard for Miss Jane, who later sang up a storm anyway.

Good new drummer, Michael, warmed to the task after taking over from Russell the Reliable, then Bill as immaculate as ever. Jeff more or less had the saxophone department to himself, and ran duly amok, as you do.

An afternoon then rescued by Nurul, who sang remarkably well for someone who has only had kids to scream at for the last few months. Dave Taylor majestic on double bass, the Nicknameless Other Dave drove it along nicely in between times.

And as the evening wore on (and it did wear a bit at times) Huich came to the fore, given an opportunity to call the tunes and fiddle away, with Yuseke on guitar as able back up. Great little interlude towards the end of the evening.

The lowest turnout (13 musos having fun) since the Leinster Arms days – we need to settle to a new venue…

This coming Sunday will be our last at the Royal Standard for a while, notwithstanding its easy parking, central location, ace food and a really nice Little Creatures on tap. The jammers are then moving to the Post Hotel on the corner of Inkerman and St Kilda Road in sunny downtown St Kilda. More below.

Sunday Jazz at The Royal Standard, it worked a bit good

Got to the set-up early-ish, to find The Captain and Jane bolting the drum kit together. All more or less done before the troops arrived, although we failed to get the sound check set-up before the saxophones started warming up. Alan Richards turned up in time to re-assemble the drum kit, thereby rendering it playable.

The new/old venue proved a good one – a bit noisy and hard to balance, but the smarter musos adjusted to that quickly, using the alarming (to some) strategy of playing quieter.

Friday 22nd March saw the biggest number of hits on the website for any day in the last two years. And 19 musos fronted, singers and saxes winning the day, but rather more delicate interventions from Laurie, the Captain, Huich (violin) and Gene (guitar) in particular.

Dave Taylor added more than a touch of class on double bass, working well with Alan. Probably explains the standard of music which climbed a notch or three as the arvo wore on.

Geoff (piano) played his longest session yet. Whoo hoo!

We are continuing to check out the places suggested by various jammers, but are we happy with the Royal S so far…? Proving to be a good stopgap venue, Frank was well pleased, parking is a doddle, and a turnout bigger than we had dared hope. Roll on!

See ya this Sunday?

Sunday Jazz at The Royal Standard, what will they think of next?

Yup, landlord Frank has stepped up to the plate and offered us the back room at the Royal Standard Hotel for this Sunday and next.

If we like it and he likes it, we might continue thereafter.

A little history:

We first approached the Royal Standard, watering hole to the gentry, everyone else let in for free, about 8 years ago – in the mistaken belief that it was another venue anyway. . Then landlord Dom and his wife Cheryl agreed to let us try the side Bar for a few Sundays.Eighteen months later, we left for the Leinster….

When the Grand Hotel cancelled the regular gigs there, we turned back to the Royal Standard again for Friday night sessions. These ran for a few months, and quite a few of the current MJJ regulars played there.

Frank remembers us well, probably for all the wrong reasons, but has welcomed us back. Guinness on tap, and Italian meals of the better sort. Decent sort of a fella.

See ya this Sunday?

Padding out the Newsletter Part 1

An early classic mangle, from the Diva herself, shamelessly reprinted so you know how it should be done. All names have been retained, to protect the innocent.

The Divine Miss Smiff pulls out a chart for a song called Dreamer or something – simple enough, latin (we can cock that up, no problem), ABC form with an intro and a coda – should be easy, let’s roll!

So… we started, as you do, with the Intro. 16 bars, but the Divine Miss S decides to sing the A section over the second eight, on the grounds that she never does the intro but forgot to mention it. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t work too well, but as it is a Jam Session, no-one really minds. Except Peter Da Bass, who is actually reading the chart and is therefore, a priori, lost forthwith.

Of course, this gets us to the B Section early , where upon the piano player (moi) elects to follow the form whilst the singer, realising her mistake, jumps back to the A section instead. Or maybe she doesn’t realise her mistake and jumps to the A anyway, because the rhythm section is clearly in deep disarray , and the Divine Miss Smiff likes to tidy up where she can. A few more bars of rubbish and it is time for the saxophonist’s solo. When I tell you that the soloist is Captain Chaos himself, you will appreciate that things may not go well from here on out, not that they were going swimmingly anyway.

So, in leaps the Captain, who decides to solo over the intro, whilst the rest of us have now embarked upon the A section. Markoen (guitar) and moi have a minor mid-debacle conference and decide to follow the soloist not the form, which promptly puts the bassist (Peter, somewhat confused already) totally off… We yell “9” at him when we get to that bar, but it doesn’t help as he doesn’t speak German…

Blistering solo from Markoen, in the middle of which, the Captain wanders around helpfully telling every one we shouldn’t be playing the Intro, which we weren’t. The piano player plays A, B, A, C on the grounds that this is what the chart says. The guitarist plays A, B, C and finishes somewhat sooner. His defence is also that this is what the chart says, and who am I to argue? The drummer, Bill I think, remains so blissfully unaware of all this that he manages to keep the tempo. That will never work…

The Divine Miss Smiff comes back in. We were probably midway through the D section at this point, which is strange, because there is no D section. Whatever, the Diva elects to put in a big ending, in the mistaken belief that (a) she is in charge, and (b) this might turn tragedy into triumph after all. She isn’t, and it doesn’t. The ending she attempts is somewhat different to the coda on the chart, but why not, the rest of the chart has clearly not helped so far… and the song eventually collapses in a schemozzle or a rallentando, I am not sure which.

The audience, who surely hadn’t been listening, applauds. The rest of the jam session that Sunday was almost as good.

Padding out the Newsletter Part 2

Jammers All Purpose Identification Chart

Compared notes last week with John Hannah who now runs the Castlemaine Jam sessions (first Sunday of each month at the Maurocco Bar). It seems that different jammmers fall neatly into the same categories.

The Beginner

Turns up without his or her instrument, otherwise desperately keen to play. The conversation goes something like this…

· Are you a musician? Answer, not really.

· Would you like to play/sing? Answer: no

· Which tunes would you like to not play/sing? Answer Autumn leaves, Summertime and/or Route 66

Beginner gets up and is often very good.

The Professional.

Turns up and announces that he/she is a professional musician. Actually this has only happened twice, once with a drummer who is now really good, once with a multi instrumentalist, who was really bad.

The Gadgeteer

Turns up with instrument, plus stand, plus three mutes, plus “special” microphone, plus complicated instructions for the other musicians.

As a general principle: the competence of the musician is in inverse proportion to the number of gadgets.

The Instructor

Spends more time on directions than on actually playing the damn piece. Typically, tells the other musicians what a B Section is, where a B section is, and how many times it should be played, and in what order. Invariably this does not correspond to the 5 page chart said instructor has provided. But that doesn’t matter as half the musos weren’t going to take a blind bit of notice anyway.

Late Breaking News…. Oh Bugger!

The Junk is no more. We were advised yesterday that the Junktion Hotel had closed its doors, ceased trading, gone belly up, run out of beer, goodwill and enthusiasm, and is about as sanguine and sentient as a Norwegian Parrot on bypass. Meaning there wil be no jam session this Sunday 24th March

Will we try and find another venue? Yes, hopefully soon

Will we persist with Kew as a venue for a November Festival? Maybe – there are a couple of contacts with (very preliminary) interest.

Do you want to get involved? If you know of a suitable venue for a Jam session, either as a one -off stop gap measure or as a permanent venue, call

Ted 0431 968982

Col 0422568537

And following is the newsletter wot we wrote before the above…

Last week’s Jam: Strangely better.. whoo hoo!

Mixed metaphor week, and the rump goes out for lunch…

Where to start? Well, the QFest Committee quorum started with lunch and a bit of a meeting. Plans for a Festival (November 2nd/November 3rd) are gradually taking shape. The Good Captain has started contacting the first tranche of bands – no names no pack drill at present, but more than a couple of good bands have expressed interest. More later…

We ended lunch with a guided tour of QPO (it’s just up High Street) and a discussion of how we might grow in 2020. Their manager Tony Harika was certainly interested.

Surprise and Sound check.. Back to the Junk and a smooth set-up with sound checks completed and then the 20+ musos set to. Surprise appearance from Ray “the original Lounge Lizard” Hood. He ‘s been called that for so long we can’t remember why. He and his singer Annique Azure had come down for a “major tour of South East Australia” – with only one venue listed on the tee shirt. Damn, they were good!

Adolphe’s infernal contraption and a newcomer: Not to be outdone, Jeff, the Captain, Laurie, young Clark and later on Keef played some fine saxophone through the arvo, newcomer Rowena (good voice!) got up and sang against her better judgement, but with a little bit of persuasion from her friend, and moi.

Jugs: Roy and his offsider Evan played “My Canary’s Got Circles Under His Eyes”, a tune I hadn’t heard for 25 years (we played rubbish back then, still do occasionally) and other jug band numbahs on guitar and resonator mandolin. Fun stuff. Miss Jane and Miss Carol brought proceedings back to an even keel, with some gentle wanders through the jazz genre, then the late, frazzled, not frazzled, slightly laid back and/or incredibly stylish Annie produced a great take on Lennon’ s Imagine, with guitar and flute solos from the aforementioned Hood and Annique.

Drum ‘N Bass By this stage, Pete (bass) was starting to wilt – he played all arvo and played really well… again.Ditto drummers Russell, Alan and Andre.

Tits: Trevor (whereyabeengreat to see you) closed out with Jane on Stormy Monday. Just an excuse for everyone to join in, blow the tits off the proverbials, and then we all went home, strangely better. Whoo Hoo!

Last week’s Jam: Up and Down Sort of a Sesh…

Another warmish day, coldish beer, drunks on the balcony and the Jazz too ran hot and cold all day. Not a bad turn out as it happens, with upwards of thirty peeps there at some stage or other, and quite a few more wandering in later. The food looks increasingly enticing as Murilo the Brazilian Chef settles in, and the beer is always good…

After giving the sound system a big wrap last week (as good as it has ever been), the Captain sensibly (is that a first?) decided to set it up exactly the same. Needless to say, it was nowhere near as good, even after we had got the Behringer foldback to work, if that is the right word for a Behringer, which it probably isn’t…

What did work was a sweet set by Susie towards the close: her singing continues to improve. Apparently “practice” has something to do with it. Susie is sending me a copy of the video her friend took so we can put it in the Jammers Newsletter

Aren’t you, Susie??

Why does a tune go off one week, and then go off in the opposite direction the next week? Probably because we gave Laurie a bit of a plug for Memories of Tomorrow last week. Didn’t work as well – suspects include the tempo, and the Baritone, which is a monster to play at the best of times. Ten points for trying, plus another 9 for Birks Works, which again had tempo problems but was a hell of a lot of fun.

Just to make sure he was a total disaster, I commented to Dave the Bass that his playing was getting better and better. This cunning plan didn’t work, as his playing was better and better again.. That’s four betters in two weeks. Good Grief!

After Russell, Sala, and Michael Findlay back after a long spell in the paddock, John Perri played beautifully (as John Perri can..) Got a little bit excited towards the end, but great to see him back.

Singers included Jane and the Debster, Kevin smooth and I am not sure who else. All hampered a little by the sound, but all good. Jane has a Featured SInger set coming up soon. Watch this space.

I haven’t much mentioned Huich (violin), back after a break, Neil, Fermin and Gene from New Jersey on guitars, Pete and Dan on bass. And I won’t – they all leave me lost for words. Good rhythm section…

So… next week rolls around: are ya comin’ or what?

Next Jam Session will be on Sunday 17th March, starting at 4.00pm

The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.

A smallish affair gets even smaller … and classier

It is too damn hot! By the time I got to the Junk, the car was overheating, and predicatbly, almost no one turned up…

Which was strange, because the musos that did all had a great day. Read on

Captain Chaos, fresh from wrangling a jam for about 6 hours the night before, set off at a rate of knots – you could tell straight away he was in good form. Easy Living

Jeff turned up. Been having lessons in saxophonology, embouchure, flooting and quite possibly deportment. You can never be too careful. Result? Played the best I have ever heard him.

Laurie Savage eschewed his usual run of blues based beobp tunes, instead hauling out Now and Forever, which was a highlight of the day.

Pete Micevski, he of the pony tail, got there early. Played all day, hard to believe he ever sounded like a beginner – classiest of the lot, all day.

Russell Stringer set up the drums, played 4/4, 6/8. 12/8 and grooved along. Occasionally apologised for not nailing the beat at the outset of a tune he probably hadn’t heard before anyway. Actually took no [prisoners, hit things masterfully and departed exhausted… Bill Swannie took over! And played for at least two hours without a break. Got better and better, even though he was pretty damn good to start with.

A rhythm section that good made piano playing a breeze, which it probably needed to be to cool things down – it was still too damn hot.

Julian swung his flute hard and fast. He gets better and better, and brought with him a bevy of audience to boot.

Exhaustion set in around 6.00pm, when young Malcolm took over the keys, and Vlad, first guitarist all afternoon, played up a storm.

Guest singers Ashley de Wangaratta and Nicola sang, I think, Embraceable Ewe and Stormy Weather, but it could have been Route 66, and Sumnmertime. Whatever. Entertaining sets and lifted the mood. It was still too damn hot…

Cooling down: Annie Smiiff, the Divine, Late, Frazzled or None of the above sang too. She is always good.

Chuffing: The Captain announced himself well chuffed – it had been a classy afternoon and not a trainwreck in sight. We ‘ll fix that later…

What ever next!

A Smallish Affair

Sunday broke warm and smooth – not much prospect of many peeps fronting for the Jam – but when we got there, young Roger the Clark was propping up the wall, the Captain was leaping from his chariot and the cleaner was, sensibly, refusing to let the ruffians in…

In no time at all, Dodgy Dave turned up and the usual crew set to. Kickoff was marginally delayed whilst the ump found a coin, and then it was on for young and old, but only if you count anyone under the age of 60 as young…

The Captain, fearing an outbreak of normality, decided the equipment layout should be reversed. Much to everyone’s astonishment, this seemed to work rather well – certainly the sound was much clearer, and unless everyone was playing better than usual, which you would have to doubt, this could become a regular thing.

Jazz anyone? Yes, we did play a bit – mainly of this but with a lick of that thrown in for good measure. Malcolm turned up early, and announced he had to leave soon, so we got him on, asap, Laurie, the Captain, Calamatta and the aforementioned somewhat sprightly Roger the C contributed the saxophological twiddly bits, whilst Russell, Alan and Salah hit things in the background, to good effect. Neil played, beautifully, all afternoon; Pete and Dan alternating on bass. Singers Jane, Kevin and Carol leavened the bread.

Highlights of the day included a somewhat nervous Judy getting up to sing for the first time. Didn’t see any nerves once she hit the mic. All seemed pretty good to the rest of us – Summertime , recorded by E. Fitzgerald in 1956; and At Last. (Etta James, released 1960) Hope she comes again.

Trainwreck of the day! I have been building up to this one for a long time, and now officially receive the accolades of an adoring public, or maybe just a tone deaf parrot with tinnitus , for comprehensively cocking up Nicas Dream, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – (1956) aided and abetted by Calamatta (the Captain claimed he was playing in another key), aged tyro Dan MacLachlan (bass), and young Alan Richards on the drums. A complete disaster from start to finish, according to Captain Chaos, and he should know…

So You missed it….

In case you turned up, or in case you didn’t, the Junktion Hotel was closed on Sunday 10th, sadly for the staff to attend a funeral. Dodgy Dave clearly had the week from hell, but is bouncing back…Apologies if you didn’t get a phone call or an e-mail – the Captain was at Port Fairy Jazz Festival and I was somewhere around Bandar Seri Begawan, the most exciting airport in the free world.

Rose (sing next time please) and the Debster (sing anytime please)

All of which meant that we put some effort into getting a decent turn out for last week’s session (Sunday 17th Feb if you are as confused as I am). If you are not confused, read on and we will do our best..

Back in the Groove

Last Sunday’s session ripped. The Port Fairy heroes, or most of them, returned – generally playing better than ever as a result, and by the end of the arvo, we had 26 musos get up and boogie – including a cameo from the elderly Mr Clark (sax), no less than 8 drummers, ranging from Russell the Hustle through the smooth Swannie, via Alan in a loud mood, Sala as good as ever, Mr Hirsh (also sang Sunny Side of the Street) Ponta, Tom (?) and David with a closing cameo from Andre.

Which pretty much set the tone for the afternoon. Entertaining sets from singers Jane, Carol, Debbie, Ann Hayres, Kevin (smooth as) and Rose H, back in the groove… all drowned out on occasion by saxophones with the Captain, Laurie and Jeff redeeming themselves with the highlight of the day –

Highlight of the day: Killer Joe, featuring bassist Dave NNY playing the best we have heard him ably supported/guided by Neil.

If I haven’t mentioned Julian, Marion Lustig, Ponytail Pete or a healthy audience it is because they were all good too. Lisbeth promised to sing The Old Country (Nat Adderley, ) …. probably by 2028 or earlier. Can’t wait.

A fun , if exhausting afternoon, plenty of variety and more musos than usual.

Next week Come along! We will be planning the next featured singer series, trying to catch up on the planning for the upcoming Q Festival now slated for 2nd and 3rd of November 2019. Keen afficionados of something or other may recognise this as the date vacated by Wangaratta, and just before the Melbourne Cup.

Next Jam at the Junktion Hotel: Sunday 24th February, 4.00pm start,

The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.

It has been a busy week in jazz. See ya Sunday?