The more things change . . .

A pleasant little toot up the Hoddle Strasse, followed by the sounds of a Bavarian Brass Band playing Moanin’ as I wandered into the Gold Street Gossip Shoppe and Ladies Tea Roomes for yet another afternoon of indulgence.

Or so I imagined. Quite by mistake, I fronted first and had, instead, the fun of setting up the various bits of hardware, sackbutts, viols, contrabassoons, contrafagotti, cromornes, double bassoons, fifes, fipple flutes, flageolets, flugelhorns, funk band instruments, hautboys, heckelphones, hornpipes, and spittoons that are apparently the necessaries (see note 1) of a jam session.

Which started, as is more often the case these days, with a coupla dodgy charts from Corporal T‘s songbook, the distinguishing feature of which is that Corporal T (see note 2), appears unable to follow them. In which, it must be said, he was in good company.

Curtis was summonsed to the rescue, and having sensibly dispatched with guitarists, proceeded to show how it might be done. Strangely, Captain Chaos proceeded to play the correct form most tunefully, and got better as the afternoon wore one. Keen aficionados of Jam Session procedures manual will recognise this as a particularly underhand attempt at confusing the rest of us, by playing so unrecognisably. Which would have succeeded had we not been confused already.

By the time scones had been served, Chance (drums), Laurie (salt shaker), Peter Cole (belgian nose flute) Brian, Kevin (tonsils), Ivan (tea chest) Geoff , Peter (keys) had all had a dip, with Bill and Michael alternately hitting things in the background; before David Ruiz dragged a carol singer through the door (Angelique, she was rather good) , Omar, and even the Pellster turned up, and the afternoon descended into a happy muddle with all sorts of good things being played.

At which point Rose got up, sans charts, and sang a beautiful slow version of Route 66, with a hot sax solo from Tony thrown in for good measure – at the end of which we all felt much better…

Don, I think, tried to draw things to a sensible conclusion, but I had gone home for tea and toast by then…By the time I left, with the score at nil all, the good Captain had barely broken a sweat, and for all I would know, they danced well on into the night, as they often do. Old faces and new tunes, old tunes and new faces – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

See ya Sunday?

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain runs out of notes.
TW

Note 1 There may be one or two readers who think I am making this up. There may be one or two readers. It is all true, as always.

Note 2 Once a conductor on a Corporation omnibus on the 437 Hounslow route, or some such, Corporal T may be a distant relative of Colonel T, but he can’t remember. Should you wish to visit Hounslow, start from Shepherds Bush, and keep going North west until you feel threatened.

Note 3 Note 3? So it is obviously not Little Sunflower. Even the Captain has admitted that this is a dreary two chord affair, although we did play it, and did manage to get one of the chords wrong. Or was it the other one?

As I recall:

20 musicians descended on the Leinster Arms on a wet stormy Sunday afternoon to keep the bar staff busy. John Curtis called the early tunes and challenged the early comers to play some seldom heard titles at the jam session. African Flower by Ellington and Jobim’s A Felicidade were examples of these. Continue reading

Carrots?

It was always a feature of the Oscar Beetroot Band’s performances in the 1930’s that there would be no soloist, such prominence being unwelcome at a time when loud-mouthed demagogues were apt to assist a performance by hurling carrots at the stage. Why carrots? Nobody knows…

Of course the only people who remember the Oscar Beetroot Band are those who are blissfully ignorant of its possible fictionality, or maybe just blissfully ignorant. And Hortense, of course, but she is apt to remember things when she wasn’t there anyway. Just ask the Vicar.

No carrots to the noggin last Sunday… as carefree a jam as we can remember (well, that accounts for the last three weeks or so) and some relaxed, fine music making that occasionally sounded like we either knew what we were doing, didn’t care, or had drifted into the dangerous waters know as “jazz”. As ever, we can, and will, fix it, but in the meantime, props to the 25 or so musos, and an audience that never flagged.

Highlights of the week, for me, anyway, were undoubtedly Herbert (see below) and Bettina. The latter chanteuse fronted with some distinctly vague charts, and gave all the appearances of someone who was going to introduce “her” band, fiddle with everything and then sing imperfectly at several semitones removed from the charts, the band and commonsense. I could not be more wrong (again!) this one had me totally fooled, and she showed some real class with the bluesy numbers she selected. Don had a ball on keys, and not surprising.

Captain Chaos ran things so smoothly that he flirted with the idea of creating a mild bit of chaos for the helluvit, but restrained himself. Another first. All afternoon, we only had one changeover hitch and pretty much everyone got a fair bit of playing time.

So who was there, I hear you ask? I wrote it all down on a bit of paper, wrote down where I had left the bit of paper on another bit of paper, bought shares in the paper company and am now none the wiser. Ange sang, Katerina sang, the Divine Miss Smith gave me no grief, and sang also, Daniel impressed on the drums, as did Bill and Michael, Herbert and Fermin equally smooth on guitar, Lisette and Andi tried a banjo/ukele number which was fun, and Gentleman John C, meself and the Don amused ourselves at the ivories. And through it all, Ivan swung hard on his electrified bass. Sweet!
TW

A busy week in music… meanwhile at the Lunatic Soup Lounge Jam Session

Well, a busy fortnight really, as we have had musos away last week at Halls Gap for their “new” festival, and this week at Wangaratta Jazz Festival, as well as various goings on in downtown sunny Melbourne.

Last Sunday’s Jam session was certainly different – Don stepped up to the plate to run the session, and I got there late, sat back and enjoyed some great playing.. well, there might have been a bit of rubbish in there, but certainly not from the Don, who played two hours straight and confessed to enjoying himself. That is the idea… He played immaculately throughout. Continue reading

Why Bother?

There has been some discussion on the purpose of the jams of late, and your opinions are sought –

As a reminder, here are some random thoughts on what we are doing:

Joining In: How many musos have turned up with very little experience of playing with a band, joined in and had a ball. (if anyone is wondering, around 40 new faces turn up each year – close to 1000 since the jams started.)

Learning on the Gig: Steve Sedergreen, jazz pianist and educator, who started the Friday night sessions at the old, old Dizzy’s, is big on this one: theoretical studies, plus practice don’t cut it – the third wheel is getting experience of playing live. The Jam Sessions provide this opportunity.

Musical Excellence: As in not pursuing this. The pursuit of excellence is what the Schools of Jazz are for – you will notice not many students turn up at jam sessions. If the aim was solely to achieve excellence, we should have given up about 24 years ago. Not all musicians want to follow someone who is clearly better than them.

Three specific criticisms need to be discussed:

· Criticism of beginners, hopefully well intentioned. This came up a few weeks ago. We should never forget just how terrifying it is to get up and perform for the first time (or the second, or the hundredth…) Newcomers to Jam sessions need all the positive encouragement they can get.

· Criticism of the Jammers playing a Friday night session and depriving professional musicians of income. This has been raised by several people and has some validity. In defence of the Jammers (who have just done four weeks on spec at the Royal Standard, using 13 different musicians) the pub only started having live music because we originally approached them and suggested it; the “income” of the professional musicians was an insulting 34c above the legal minimum adult wage, and the Captain Chaos Quartet is reportedly pulling substantially more people into the pub than the bands tried before.

· Some musos have turned up at a Jam, sat around, and left before we can get them a spot. We have had this happen three or four times in the last six months, generally because we have been too busy, occasionally because individual musos tend to hog the spot and a couple of times because the standard was scary high.

Have Your Say!

I would suggest comments to the management of the organisation, but there isn’t any (*)… your thoughts on the Jams, however, random, are sought – email to:

melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com

* Footnote: There isn’t any… management or organisation, take your pick.

The Jam Session last week – got it wrong again…

As I was saying only last Friday, “And next week? Probably no one will turn up. Unless you do.. ” How wrong can you be! At least 33 musicians must have heeded the call, two of them, possibly, as a direct result of reading the newsletter and realising that attending a jam was marginally less painful. To put it in perspective, this is now the second busiest Jam session we have recorded since 2008 (the busiest was 35 musos for the Captain’s birthday bash).

The early warning signs were there (4 saxophones with -ists attached by 4.30) and by about 5.30 we were out of control… But what a great afternoon it turned out to be. Continue reading

Jam Session goes off at the Colliwobble Chop House and Basement di Bossa

It is always best not to think, but if you did, you might wonder why we can never assume that many people, some of them musicians, some delusional, most both, and the rest in search of social lubricant and light but essentially malicious gossip, will turn up on any given Sunday.

The Vicar’s sermon must have run to a few extra pages at Matins, because we started with very few in the Gossip Shop, and it stayed that way for quite a while. Then, as can happen, they started pouring through the door, all deserving of extra playing time and getting it – until we could, as is now habitual, entice Glen (Il Duce to those in the know) from behind the bar to tell us to turn it down. In anglo saxon.

So . . . Continue reading

Ballad Mangling 1.01: blow by blow account of Jam Session debacle

I still haven’t got over this one. Midway through last Sunday’s jam session, 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. Continue reading

Jam Session No 1,034 goes according to plan

One can never be sure, when sauntering into the Gold Street Gossip Shop, watering hole to the gentry, quite what the plan will be. Will the jammers, in the spirit of inconsistency, play some jazz? Will Madge from Altona run amok, or sit out the back with a house port, a sailor, and a catering pack of Winnie blues? Will Hortense get lucky, always assuming she will be there, which she might be?

Last Sunday’s not so little jam session (it was crowded again), provided none of the answers, of course. It had promised to be a run of the mill affair, Continue reading

Jam Session, cheap booze and Broken Promises

Last Sunday’s Jam was the third biggest turn out of musos we have ever had. Props to Rod and Bette back on a brief trip from some sweaty dive north of Borneo) for dragging so many through the door, and sorry you had to shout all afternoon to maintain the constant banter to which you are accustomed.

So, about those loud saxaphones and rattly ol’ drummers. No point in telling either to turn it down, as they are all industrially deaf. Can’t imagine why… Continue reading

A Busy Day at the Ol’ Leinster Basement De Blues

Quite what has happened to the Jams of late is likely to remain a mystery. Suffice it to say that, after a few weeks struggling out of the doldrums of mediocrity, last Sunday’s session was positively frenetic, with previously unheard of things going on, like really good pianists turning up, and the entire ensemble making noises that even the cognoscenti would begrudgingly recognise as somewhat jazz… Continue reading

JAZZ GENRES EXPLAINED

It is high time someone explained the different genres in Jazz. Meanwhile…

THE BLUES  Probably the most basic influence on jazz, comprised of no more than three chords and the perfidy of women. All of it sung with a fake sincerity, often in a fake American accent to make it sound authentic. Apparently.

JAZZ STANDARDS The term is an ironic one, describing the constitutional inability of your average muso to play the same thing twice. There are actually few standards amongst Jazz Musicians, and all of them are low.

Jazz standards use four or even five chords, and were written some time between 1933 and1948, a time when most sensible people would be staying home to watch the advertisements on pay TV. The genre is defined by the use of walking tenths in the bass line, or staggering quarters if the bottleshop will still give you credit; and by the soloist swinging – preferably from a rope attached to the rafters, but I digress.

BEBOP  Another ironic term, describing the constitutional inability of your average bebop muso to play the same thing once. If you slow it down and play Bebop backwards, it doesn’t sound any worse. Spooky, or what!

POST BEBOP  This genre cannot be called ironic at all, as most adherents struggle with words of more than one syllable. It does not refer to jazz music that has been learnt by mail order. No one has ever listened to the end of a post bebop composition – because it doesn’t have one, it just fades away when the jazz club goes broke.

FREE JAZZ  Jazz that is so dissonant and repetitive that no one will pay for it. The entire enrolment of University Jazz Courses is said to be working on extending this to the point where people will pay for it (on condition that it stops immediately.) If successful, they will be able to go and get a job teaching trombone in a High School one year earlier than the previous intake (see note below). Progress is a wondrous thing.

SHOWTUNES  Ah, the most sublime music of all – saccharine romantic ballads. Showtunes have a timeless quality, at least when played by the Jammers, and we only pick them to see if we can get Colonel T off the stage.

Footnote: The enrolment at a University is called an intake. Each year around Melbourne about 100 Students are taken in by Jazz courses. Only to discover that there are no jobs at the end of it, other than teaching trombone in a High School. Far better to have studied Accounting or Quantity Surveying. There are no jobs in those disciplines either, but at least the pay is better.