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. The standard of music was kept comfortably low, the eight reeds players tried and failed to dominate proceedings, the five drummers (Michael, Bill, Michelle, Spike and the unmentionable Mr Hirsh) were all good, the four bass players (Chris, Peter, Carlton and Ivan) did their thing, the five pianists (Gentleman JC, meself, Tony, Don and Richard) had a ball, the five vocalists (Katerina, Annie the Smith, Johanna and Shannon on latin harmonies, and Ol’ Smooth Tonsils Kev all sang up a storm, and the four guitarists (Chico, Johnny, Fermin and Peter Ryan) kept themselves nice. Well, you get the picture, and that is without mentioning the trumpeter Zizhi, the flautist Dave, and a happy little audience.


Tony blowing so hard he’s gone blurry, and the ever improving Ponytail Pete

Props to Will for turning up early and picking a coupla toons, to Ponytail Pete for putting the drum kit together and then playing some swinging bass lines, to Laurie for being the only (and therefore best) Bari in the room, to Tony for easily being the loudest saxophone, and to Evan for playing some sweet clarinet lines. Newcomers included Yu (saxophone) and Zizhi (trumpet). Alan West hit the mellow tones, and the Calamatta put in some smooth licks. The Captain was so overwhelmed he almost forgot to call fours.

Chaos smoothly rang the changes so we could listen to, and pick out, a couple more jammers for the Friday sessions – Michelle (drums) and Yu (saxophone) are booked in for 28th October – and hopefully everyone got a decent chance to join in.

The Highlights: Either six reeds playing at once, or the two newcomers Johanna and Shannon singing harmonies and giggling at the same time.

We are unlikely to sustain this many musos every week – and it is slightly alarming to see how much the list varies from one week to the next. What do we do if they all turn up? The suggested solutions are

(1) Advertise a much better Jam, at the same time, paid, in a CBD venue with free parking, and A and R in attendance …and see how many are fooled by that one
(2) Play Epistrophy in F#minor on high rotation until the fuss dies down
(3) Send all the good musos to Halls Gap and let the B Team take over.

Actually, we are trying option (3) this week – feel free to drop in (it is about 343km closer than Halls Gap to where you live) and have a dip.

We shall be disporting ourselves with elegance but probably not competence. Should be fun…


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


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.

Carruthers plays up…

“I don’t like it, Carruthers, its, its just too damned quiet….”

Carruthers has, apparently fixed that, and now the jams are almost too damned noisy instead. Last week saw a mixed bag of trophies pinned to the ancestral walls of the mouldering pile, and we will skip, figuratively, over the opening salvo – a piping hot set with Sam Izzo at the keys – and get to the guts of the matter, which was the sight of Il Duce twinkle toeing across the dance floor to tell the five, read it and weep, five saxaphones to shut the f*** up. Messrs Chaos, Cardinal Calamatta, Alan West, Tony and Laurie Savage were the guilty parties.


A piping hot set: Haircut, Savage, De Wang and Izzo – who departed after this, leaving the others to go downhill all afternoon Continue reading

Some More Jam Session Terms explained

Part of an ongoing series of one.

Soloist: Can only play one instrument at a time, often quite badly. If talking to a soloist, make sure that you speak clearly, as they are often not good listeners, due to lack of practice. On no account should you mention the presence of a rhythm section, as this might startle them.

Saxophonist: a sub set of soloist. They cannot all put five beats to the bar in a 4/4 tune, but most of them are pretty good at it. Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.. Continue reading

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. Continue reading