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It would seem that the jammers have spread themselves all over the state, what with Castlemaine, Merimbula, Mornington and the rest.

So it was with a sense of coming back together that the stalwarts presented for the Gold Street Tea Roomes weekly bash once more.

The afternoon started innocently enough, with young Roger alternately sucking and blowing on his black satin finish medium sized saxophone. He looked positively Adonis like in his bebop with tight jeans. Of course, Adonis has been dead for around 2100 years, so it is not necessarily a good look after all.

Enough of the shenanigans, we all thought, and on with the ballad mangling.

Of which, although numbers were low, there was plenty to be had.

Jeff the pick of the saxes, Chloe and Susie singing, Brian providing a fine take on Georgia, the rest of us just mucking about really. A pleasantly relaxed jam session, nothing got broken, and nobody died.

Spiffin! See ya this week?

TW

The Leinster Jam: One last Hit Out

Wandered into the Gold Street Gossip Shop, to find very little going on. After a suitable period of sitting around the Lunatic Lounge doing nothing, we got up and got started. Many thanks to guitarist Ben for calling Wave, and expecting the piano to play the head, comp the rhythm and throw in the bass line for good measure.

At least things could only get better. They didn’t, and we lurched, staggered, dribbled and fell over any number of jazz standards – 22 desperates in search of the lost chord.

A coupla highlights: Vlad (guitar and purple hat) got a spot at the Royal Standard this week – with Joys’ Castlemaine band; and Banjo Joe, played some neat banjo finger pickin’ style, and then sang in an outrageous falsetto – apart from my just enjoying it, there was the additional amusement of seeing some of the more traditional folks choking on their beer. More please!

Phil contributed a lively set on keys – Dinah, Lulu’s Back in Town, and I think Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby. for reasons that had escaped me by the time they finished. The six saxes were noisy in a good natured way, and the drummmers were, as ever, immaculately well behaved.

This week’s Jam will be run by pianist and singer Peter Garam. As ever when the more pretentious musos are away, the B team will step up and have a ball.

If you can’t make Castlemaine, the Leinster is a pretty good substitute.

Toodlepip!
TW

On Council Largesse, and why employing musicians is a bad idea…

One of the special joys of inner city living is lying in bed listening to the rumble and clatter of the garbos at about 6 o’clock in the morning.

The other one is getting the rates notice. It is about at this point that you realise you are not just lying in bed listening to the rumble and clatter of the garbos at about 6 o’clock in the morning – you are also paying for it.

And you may console yourself, humble jazz musician, with the thought that at least Councils are major employers of musicians – Stonnington, Yarra, COPP and others all have programmes of jazz, generally free.

We recently carried out a Feasibility Study for an all-day Jazz event in Melbourne. Great site, good location, lots of pluses. We did a survey of live music prices, and similar offerings elsewhere. We looked at higher priced bands as well as a volunteer/low cost model. Whichever way we cooked the books, the proposal would not, could not, stack up.

And the reason? All those “free” concerts, jazz in the park etc. etc., mean that no commercial operator will go near a jazz festival – unless there is a substantial grant of public money. And so we have the edifying spectacle of professional musicians bemoaning the lack of opportunity, whilst complaining about their lack of earnings, and trousering the Council pay that ensures there can be no other commercial opportunities.

Council largesse could kill the music scene.
TW

The Leinster Jam: flirting with Reality.

I am indebted to Captain Chaos for this opportunity to write a brief review of last Sunday’s jam session, for parts of which I was in attendance. I am advised by the Captain that there were 24 musicians turned up. Certainly the musicians I saw were of a pretty lively standard, with a smattering of new faces.

Tunes played probably included Summertime, Autumn Leaves and Georgia. Taariq is convinced he should have a dollar for each time they get played. He could be onto something.

There are now only two ways in which aspiring jammers tend to find us – Google and Word of Mouth, and examples of both were on display- we had new drummers, a trumpeter, hot pianist, and a couple of guitarists. And there were the usual 6 saxes in attendance. We have no idea what we would do without them, as they have never given us the chance to find out.

See ya Sunday?

Where are we?

The Leinster Jam started quietly last Sunday. Only John and Lisette for the keys. Michael and Dan to drum and Noel and myself with our Tenors. Lisette used the keyboard split to more than adequately make up for the lack of a bass player. Ivan eventually arrived and played bass for the next 3 ½ hours except for a small break provided by John Curtis who jumped at the opportunity to exhibit his multi instrumental status. Ted was the next to come in and did a short stint on the keys. He was followed by a plethora of Saxophones …..new comer Jeff (Alto), Laurie, (Tenor) Paul (Tenor), John Calamatta (Tenor) Keith (Alto), Will (Tenor) and Peter (Tenor). Vocalists Julie and Cloe also appeared to break up the wailing of the Saxes. Vlad later filled the vacant guitar space with his purple guitar which looked as if it belonged in a heavy metal band.  Glen and Bill augmented the drum role and Richard did a late stint on the keys.

Highlights……Paul and Jeff’s version of Now’s the Time. Lisette singing spooky backed by herself on keys and Paul, Glen, Ivan and Vlad.  Julie’s very spelt “Valerie” with harmonies from Lisette and an excellent  solo from Vlad.

Where did it go?

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.

Jam Session 1.01: start here…

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.
TW

The Jam Sessions: What to expect…

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.
TW

The Jam Sessions: what we actually got…

Last day of the month of April saw the appearance of seven drummers at the Sunday jam. For a while there was only Sam on keys, Fermin on Guitar and a rotation of drummers: newcomer Russell followed by Michael, Dan and a very smart younger slap and rattle artiste whose name eludes us.

Sam tickled the low keys to play a cool bass line until Taariq arrived to take on bass duties. Noel (tenor and flute) Luis (Soprano) and I added the heads on Saxophones and Kevin warbled some words.

And then… disaster looms!

Sam and Fermin were scheduled to leave at 5.30 so it looked as if the only rhythm would be provided by drums and guitar for the rest of the night.

Disaster averted. ‘Twas a Close Run Thing!

Just as they were about to leave in strolled Peter Garam (keys and vocals), Kay (keys) and Peter Ryan (guitar). They were soon followed by Ivan (Bass) Omar(bass) Bill (drums) Michelle (drums) Annie (vocals), Peter Cole (Tenor), Laurie (yet another Tenor) and another newcomer on melodica, who could have been a distant relative of the young drummer, so we didn’t get his name either.. Glen also had a stint on the Drums.

Numbers varied from an “unusual” version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, through a very cool Black Coffee to a very loud Tenor Madness.

By the knackered end of it, a pretty good session all round.

Not your usual correspondent
CCTW