My apologies to the avid readers of the Newsletter – it has been a bit thin for a while, and we are deeply appreciative of the continued support of both of you, in the absence of any suitable insult. Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers’ flagship organ, is bestirring itself once more, in the hope that we can all get taken over by a hedge fund, or at least employ a gardener.
Winter already. Time to burn the furniture, and race to the back bar of the Ludicrous Arms. Some may claim to have been lost, others would have walked into the Leinster under their own steam. Whatever, another pleasantly diversionary jam session was in prospect, with about six saxophones to one of anything else.
As it should be… Yet again, the assembled incognoscenti failed to recognise the full Garrett protocol, which, as an opening gambit, leaves little to be desired, and even less to speculate upon. The good Captain, dispensing with such dreary conventions as following the form, conducted a lively rampage through Morning, or at least parts of it, before L Savage tackled Yesterdays, beating it also to a satisfying pulp. Noel confounded the Captain by playing well in tune; and Paul, Gentleman JC and the troops threatened real music for a while, before descending to the level to which the rest of us aspire.
Several peeps, Chaos one of them, remarked on the lack of competent singers. Others remarked upon the lack of competent anything, and were it not for the fact that we were all having a good time, one might have been tempted to call the whole enterprise something of a schemozzle.
I must own up to staying until less than stumps, pleading exhaustion and a surfeit of pills. A fun afternoon, nothing got broken and nobody died.
And the band played on – ’til well past the hour.
Quite why anyone in their right mind would want to attend a jam session remains a mystery. One day someone sensible will turn up and all will be revealed. No Hortense, that is not what I meant at all…
So supposing you read the ad in Melband, or google “Melbourne jam session”, or take the advice of someone who really doesn’t like you, or get lost on your way to the Municipal Bottle dump in the hope of a windfall, just what could you expect when you stumble through the green door?
Well, musical tragedies, the most appalling racket, and disharmony for a start. And that is just the saxophones warming up in the back room. Despite all this furtive practising, they still manage to come out and play the head approximately three poofteenths of a semitone flat, before launching into a solo which sounds like it is based on the chords for Epistrophy in 5/4 time, but probably isn’t, before playing over the singer, presuming to play the head one last time and then repeating it to make sure no one else gets a go.
But why just bag the saxaphones when there are richer pickings in the Back Bar?
Drummers... We all like the extended drum solos in between every number, and the slap and rattle jockies rarely let us down. The appalling racket ensures that no one can hear what song, key or tempo the singer or soloist might be calling for, and that gives us at least three excuses for getting it wrong.
Bass players: there are two types of bass player who come to the jam: Taariq in his bebop mode, and everyone else. ‘Nuff said.
Guitarists. Few people know that the guitar is a direct descendant of the mid fourteenth century left handed lute. This is because it isn’t true. Or is it? Whatever, we can only be amazed at how the guitarist can play a melodic line, comp a million chords and put in the bass line all at once, without ever interfering with the tempo and rhythm being set by the bass and drums.
Singers: these fall into three categories: singers who are so inexperienced that they know no better, singers who are so experienced that they should know better, and singers who used to know better, but have forgotten. The Divine Miss Smith falls into all three categories.
Captain Chaos: He maintains he carefully orchestrates the musician changes so that everyone gets a fair turn; and he never gets the least bit irritated when anyone just presumes they can get up and barge in because they feel like it. Or wants to play just one more tune, or doesn’t want to get up because they are waiting for a more accomplished line-up.
The Pianists: Anyone who has read this far will be wondering about the pianists. Most of them are good looking, modest, talented to a fault, and generously hold the whole thing together. The other one is still malingering in Hospital, lazy sod…
Freda Trout is writing the newsletter this week. Gawd help us.
Upon reflection, probably something. Another fine arvo of cocking up all the good bits, and enjoying the dross. This was a remarkably busy session – mainly because we had five bass players ( Colonel T, Ivan, Matthew, Chris and Pony Tail Pete) and only three saxophones .(Captain Chaos, Luis, and Peter Cole). Continue reading
Autumn, it would seem, is somewhat late this year, but upon us nevertheless. As I ambled through the doors of the Gold Street Gossip Shoppe at the unusual hour of 4 o’clock last Sunday, there was the palest glow of feeble sunshine, the first chill breeze of the season, and stuff all going on inside.
A quiet session seemed in prospect, starting with pianist/drummer Gentleman John Curtis as gentlemanly as ever, and the McCue de Bendigo getting better and better on the ivories. It took a while for the joint to fill, but fill it did, and by the time 24 musicians had turned up, tuned up and joined in, it would be fair to say that this was one of the busier sessions. And not a little musical from time to time, although the habit of playing real jazz on a Sunday afternoon sets a dangerous precedent and is to be discouraged…
There were plenty of good moments in between the occasional debacle. Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (retd) absent mindedly played bass rather well. Fortunately such an experienced old hand will not let that put him off his game, and he will surely be back to stomping on the ground so hard the floor shakes in no time. No time being the operative phrase. Anyhoo, he got things moving along rather nicely. Possibly because there was also a very good bass player, Matthew Birtchnell, who started rather hesitantly, and by the time Katerina got up and ripped the joint apart with Summertime and All of Me, was absolutely flying. More please.
Lewis, the guitarist for whom 1000 notes is never enough, was back, and in great form, Ben “Twang” Stewart produced some fine solos, and Luis (soprano saxophone) played some ace bossa.
Brian, Kev, Vlad and Kay all sang: Brian’s Ab chart for That Old Black Magic a ripper, Kay as entertaining as ever, Kev making it look easy, and the rhythm section playing Killing Me Softly in totally the wrong key for Vlad.
Michelle, Bill and Andre drummed, Julian flooted and presiding over it all was a benevolent Captain Sensible. Who, in a spirit of consistency, decided not to call fours, and therefore failed to produce his customary 5 bar magic. Stolen Moments was fun, although pianist Kay stole the show on that one.
So… a really enjoyable afternoon of ballad mangling, and by the time Landlord Glen produced the party pies, I think everyone was well mellowed.
Autumn is a good time of year…
And we will do it all again, especially the debacle bits … at The Leinster Arms, Gold Street Collingwood, Sunday 2nd April 2017, at 4.00pm.
Strange little jam session last Sunday: started with lots of casual sax, only one bass player all arvo, a coupla singers, three drummers, and the usual complement of guitarists and pianists. As the good Captain remarked, there were times when it almost sounded like music… which is another way of saying there were times when it didn’t.
Hortense, I am almost certain, was not there – she has been much distracted of late Continue reading
Audience confused, of course, but the regular jammers set down for a regular jam, playing around with some fairly standard songs, with predictable results. Like a pair of old slippers, it was all decidedly comfortable – saxophonists (there were three) leading the charge in a born to rule kind of way, pianists (two remarkably good ones dropped in on the regulars (Curtis, the Don, and meself), and Findlay whacking away at the drums to the point of exhaustion, whereupon Il Duce took pity and spelled him for a bit. Matt Berg took over later on, played beautifully.
As has been the case in recent weeks, Bass players were a bit thin on the ground, with Ponytail Pete and Colonel T shouldering the load. Fermin, Brian and later on Chico all slotted in some nice guitar work.
It is afternoons like this that give you time for a yarn with a few old friends, the occasional social lubricant, and some light banter with a slightly manic Colonel T of the Fourth Punjab Light Horse (retd), who took it upon himself to direct proceedings from time to time. The results were predictable, although perhaps the rendition of Black Nile was a bit special, as it was spectacularly shredded, demolished and stomped into the carpet. Musicians who were there will know what I mean, and the funeral will be announced once the pieces have been gathered up and bagged.
The late Miss Smith turned up at her usual hour, and lifted the mood considerably – still basking in plaudits from her Friday night session. And Ponytail Pete got booked for his first session at the Royal Standard Hotel this week, so at least some of us are progressing well.
Kind, comfortable, what more could you want. Don’t answer that Hortense…
Melbourne Jazz Jammers – a bunch of musos getting together to play random toons. Sometimes we all play the same tune at the same time. Doesn’t make much difference.
Second opinions will be sought at The Leinster Arms, Gold Street Collingwood, Sunday 4th March 2017, at 4.00pm.
In light of the buzz around the joint the previous week, it was only reasonable to expect things to be a little quieter – and in that expectation, those of us who wandered into the Gold Street sheltered workshop at 4pm on the dot were not disappointed.
The afternoon would evidently start with three pianists and a saxophone… Izzo, Curtis, and meself, debating as to who should stuff the first stanza by playing drums. We opted for Curtis – Continue reading
Wandered into the Gold Street Gossip Shoppe and Society Tea Roomes last Sunday with every expectation of there being no one there, and a seriously quiet jam session in prospect, given that so many regulars had made the odyssey to Port Fairy for their first Jazz Festival (see the Captain’s report below)
The session started quiet enough, but musicians of all calibres kept arriving all afternoon – and what transpired was one of the most enjoyable jams in a long time. Could I have a dollar for every time someone said “I thought there would be no-one here…”
We started with a classy little set from Katerina Myskova, Continue reading
No kidding:- Col, Kev and Sir Roger De Coverley’s ageing roue descendant all hit up the Castlemaine Jam (which was a good one by all accounts), a lot of jammers were away furiously arranging a Port Fairy set list or three, in the hope that they could fool at least some of their audience into thinking they know what they are doing; Il Duce, who quietly sets up the room each week, was in Queensland, and we had everything shipshape and Bristol fashion by about half an hour late…when a gentlemanly rump fronted a very quiet Leinster Arms for the obligatory afternoon of doing things differently.
And how different they were… Peter Garam produced the first firework of the day Continue reading
Fun little session last Sunday, much enlivened by newcomer Joel on his slush pump. I can only remember three trombonists in recent years, and one of those would be Elliott Joe on his green plastic technological marvel, so a bit of a treat, and some harmonious little duets with the Captain ensued.
Whatever, a quietish sort of a jam where 19 musos got up, nobody kicked the dog, and nothing got broken. Plenty of variety in the toons on offer, and lots of bebop as Colonel T was AWOL. Continue reading
No sooner had I eased the corporate chariot into one and a half spaces, parking not being my strong suit, than I was greeted by the sight of young Nadira strolling somewhat purposefully towards the battered green door of the Gold Street Bebop Stop and Tea Roomes.
The Hobart chanteuse, possibly one of the better known singers in Lenah Valley, was urged on by a beaming Captain Chaos, who may have sat back and listened to a selection of swing tunes finely crafted, but not to the extent that he forgot to plan some disruptive fours for later on. Marion appeared a little lost on some of the rowdier numbers, and a little found on some of the others – another fine contribution. Continue reading