Happiest bit of News this week

Well, this is a line ball between a discussion of when where and how we might reconvene the jam sessions, and how the hell do we think we can propose a Newport Jazz Festival, complete with social distancing in the venues, covid safe routines at the door, and enough moolah coming in to reimburse the musicians a meaningful amount.


More to be advised as the dates for opening up become clearer, but suffice it to say we are actively discussing Jam sessions and Festivals.


The Jammers Bit.

About the Newsletter

Anyone interested in receiving a weekly newsletter detailing the jam sessions, need only send their e-mail address to melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com and in no time at all they will have to spend nearly ten minutes a week reading all about it.

The online newsletter is free, informative and mostly irreverent, used to have reviews of previous jam sessions, and now never reviews CD’s and gigs any more because, CD’s only exist in the fevered memories of washed up musos, and there are no gigs.

The Newsletter, given to irony from its title on, sometimes contains subliminal messages which may rot your brain or encourage the reader to turn up at a jam session if we ever have one, or both; and should appeal to a varied audience which includes jazz musicians who can (a) read and (b) own a computer.

Highly recommended!

Happiest bit of music this week
Saved this for a bit of cheer. Warning! Imgur is addictive….

Try not to smile…

The Jammers Bit: We are Not Going Back to Normal

Or forward at the moment… In response to the extreme lack of any performance opportunity other than gawping at a screen whilet the Zoomed opposition operate at a 25 millisecond delay, we bring the following Jammers Guide to the Lockdown :

Stage Four: Doesn’t work for the Captain as he tends to start with Stage 3 or 5 anyway
Stage Three: Singers: Did someone say Stage?, here I am..
Stage Two: Theoretically possible, but wouldn’t it be easier if we all moved to Queensland?
Stage One: There is no Stage One, that was just a rumour put about to keep the conspiracy theorists, anti vaxxers, gluten free hippies, humourless vegans, police and other weirdos occupied.

Zoom Zoom Zoom; Online Music Collaboration.

Leaders of the Music Business are still frantically trying to find out how to stop musicians putting up music without paying them a cent. Optimists think the solution will be up by next year, epidemiologists (and God knows we have enough of them all of a sudden) think it will be 16.32pm next Thursday but only if their modelling is accurate, which, of course, it isn’t.

So…. zooming on

Sound Delay: There seem to be ongoing problems with co-ordination regardless of software used. Sounds much like a jam session, and it never bothered us…

As a money raising venture: tricky one this, probably the best way to generate funds is to threaten to keep posting recordings. You could try Little Sunflower as a double whammy.

Audience: There isn’t one, as a rule. Again, much like any jam session, and again, it never bothered us…

This week’s contributions from Jammers with too much time on their hands..

  • Musicians : Rose’s article on Instrumentalists’ language: a guide for aspiring vocalists.
  • Tales from The Pantry: yup, still don’t have a clue what this is about, see if you can make it out…
  • Dr John’s Jazz Clinic: In, it should be noted, several parts and considerable detail. Essential reading for harp players who want to show off, as well as jazz musos of all levels..

What have the Jammers been up to?

The Newport Jazz Festival (yes, it is still a thing) Committee held their first Zoom meeting last week. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, this went fairly smoothly. Several glasses of wine were spotted in the background, but no credibility bookcases.
Bill Swannie, possible future High Court Judge (well, he hasn’t been caught yet), has been lounging about at home, listening to Michael Jackson at Archie’s insistence (that is what Bill says .. maybe he secretly likes it) and devising new ways of remotely online misleading the next generation of lawyers. He is well, but is using an electronic drum instead of his fine Gretsch. Who said Covid wasn’t a crisis?

Bill Swannie

Annie “Pegleg” Smith probably continues to stump around the lobelias when she should be inside bashing out another artickle for the Newsletter. I wouldn’t know for sure as she isn’t answering her telephone.

Festival and Jammers News:






The Jammers Bit: Corny Copia

Suddenly or surreptitiously, I am not sure which, we have a bucketful of articles, some of them more or less music related, others possibly the result of combining a tedious lockdown with copious supplies of mind altering pharmaceuticals. Whatever, I am deeply grateful for the demented ramblings of music starved musos, and for all the other articles that have been submitted. It is now a bit like a jam session, we will have to get the Captain to set up a list and make sure every one gets a decent go…

Now that I have said that, it is quite probable that next week’s Newsletter will be a series of blank pages (tempting thought, innit?)

Any hoo, in the meantime, for those of you can read, and for the drummers:

  • Laurie Savage Why The Saxophone? A question that we have all of us pondered at some time or other
  • Tales from the Pantry: otherwise known as Ales from The Pantry. And, no, I don’t what they are about either…
  • John Curtis: France : The Jazz Summer School Experience. Our resident intellectual on his experience in a French Chateau with a bunch of musos.


A possible model for the future of Jam Sessions

I am keenly aware that, back in April, we projected a re-opening of the Jam Sessions by the end of September, and covered our posterior by declining to nominate which year. It looks increasingly likely that we won’t be opening any time soon. I have talked to Gina of The Tower Hotel, and they are as keen as mustard to get re-started.

So how do you hold a jam for, say 30 musos plus hangers -on (we could call them audience to be polite) socially distanced in a room with a maximum capacity of 20?

This is not as hard as it might seem: Hold the jam session in, say, three outdoor venues with a set band drawn from the jammers in each. We then need to guarantee we play so badly that no-one will turn up, so the 20 person gathering limit is not breached anyway. Shouldn’t be too hard. We could always deploy Little Sunflower in an emergency…And we might offer to turn their venue into a mess for free, because none of the venues have any money anyway, and this would help them get re-started.

Interestingly, this model would allow, say, up to 20 – 25 jammers to play a lot more (maybe a two hour/two set arrangement.) Each band would have to accommodate one or two musicians who might be beginners – a similar arrangement to the Laika Bar days.

What have the Jammers been up to?

I sometimes wonder…

Alan West has been listening to Sonny Stitt My Old Flame with a bit of LRB, and Skyhooks on the side, contemplating Sun Tzyu, who runs a takeaway shop in St Kilda. Alan is threatening to play more originals. You have been warned

Alan West

Fermin, guitarist du jour, on the other hand has been listening to jazz fusion – Hard
Groove by the RH Factor; and not playing much guitar. He has just won a tender with Hobsons Bay Council and is now wondering how he can do it for that much money…


Kevin Roff has been giving Boz Scaggs a whirl. Somebody has to. Kevin has been staying around the house as a kindness to others, and says he is well.


Alan Richards, drummer to the stars, last listened to Karma Chameleon on the wirelss in his car. So at least we know he has a car… Boy George will be mortified.

Michelle Gigliotti, chanteuse is still working in the aged care sector, and listening to some Gregory Porter – Youtube that one, you won’t be disappointed


And Susy Velinovski, apart from running Zoom meetings recommends Lady Gaga at the VMA Awards as an aural/visual/virtual experience. If you want to see what socially distanced mask wearing performance looks like, click on the link…


What a fine selection of traditional jazz ballads….and I have been listening to Esperanza Spalding – hugely diverse, but check out her ending on Sunny Side of the Street


Festival and Jammers News:







Tales from the Pantry & other Jam Sessions

Once upon a time in Jazz land, before ISO, an army of Musicians descended upon a well -known Tavern for encouraging players of all ages. The normal turnout was at least 4-5 axes and up to 6 saxes. If you were lucky, a plethora of keyboard players would turn up to tickle the ivories.

This afternoon in time was unusual, as it brought forth enough Drummers to form a marching band. The Ivory ticklers were indeed pleased, as it was now easier to sit back, partake of the Tavern wine, and play, using just one hand.

The usual sign in was thrown into array. The Captain of the motley crew had to draw straws in order to prevent a war. Soon play was underway. Some Drummers were known and adulated by the number of sticks they carried. They were given the lions’ share of play, to show their teeth on how to clear out a whole Tavern, as well as bring the Singers to their knees.

As would have it, one known Princess Donna unfortunately drew a short straw. She drew out a chart that would defy and test the temperament of most drummers. She confidently pointed out how the rhythm changed from Swing to Bossa. Basic staples for every Drummers supper.

P.D. stepped up to the Microphone and counted in 1,2, 1234.Then before you could say, “What a lot???”….By the end of only eight bars, the Drummer had crossed over to the dark side. Chaos rained down as Princess Donna threw daggers at the Captain, but there was no stopping the sticks from flying.

Princess Donna tried stumbling through the lyrics and even stamped her foot to get the Drummer to cross back over to the light. But there was no returning. He had been taken by the Devil. Hands and feet flew everywhere, as his whole body convulsed to his own Rhythm.

Moral of the Tale.

You can lead a drummer to follow,

But you can’t make him Sync.

Signed “Cookin.”

More Tales From the Pantry & Other Jam Sessions.

Once upon a time in the olden days of yore, (B.C. Before Covid) there reigned a handsome “King of Keys.” He was always on the lookout for Songbirds who could bring joy to the hearts of his subjects.

There were young birds of all shapes and sizes who desired nothing but to learn how to warble sweetly and chirp their way to fame. This practice was supported by the Kingdom of Jazz Lovers, who loved to see new faces. Their generous natures encouraged a multi-culture of musicians. Alas the Prince of Song became jealous of the Kings attention to these young beginners. He felt that he deserved to take centre stage anytime he pleased, even to the point where he would defy the Captains orders of only three songs a set of merry tales.

All it took was a break between instrumental interlude and verse. The Prince of Song pranced onto the stage and grabbed the microphone before the Captain could yell, “No ‘Pop’ here Prince, only ‘Jam’.” But, there was no stopping the Prince. “Its time for my Purple Reign” he yelled.

Goldilocks was furious that he hadn’t followed the ‘three rule.’ She jumped off her stool and began beating her Bongos in protest. The Chicks gathered their feather boas and tried to flee the Coop. Red faces from the musicians, who tried to stem off the royal “Pop’ invasion. “We want Blues, not Purple “screamed an older chook who had taken exception to having missed out on her place in the pecking line.

Mr. Music, in charge of the Royal Chambers, came bursting in to calm down the din that had risen to unbearable decibel levels. The noise threatened to discharge the patrons who had gathered to hear the sweet tones of the new birds.

Sword in hand, he calmly grabbed the Prince o’ Song by the arm, hauled him off stage and settled the three bearers of flute, sax and brass who were ready to pack up. The King of Keys glowered at the Prince who sheepishly retreated.

Goldilocks recovered from her anger and resisted the urge to hold up three fingers. The subjects continued to give their best of three and toasted Mr. Music who had prevented what could have been a very sticky Jam session.

Moral of the Tale.

Mr. Music has arms that soothe the savage guests.

Signed : “Cookin” from the Pantry.

The Jammers Bit: The Jam Session Irregulars


This week’s breathtaking edition is entirely written by the Jam Session Irregulars, none of whom has attended a jam in months, of course. Much thanks to:



Alan West    Learning Music


Captain Chaos    It is Not Just the Music


Mike “carpet” Hirsh    Recording Tips For Vocalists


Rosemarie Harvey    The Vocal Chords





‘Nuff said. Read on!…..

The Jammers Bit: Whatever Next

Whatever …

You may well ask… seems like we are no closer to resuming jam sessions than we were a week ago… or three months ago.. Conversations with a number of jammers have entirely failed to throw up the sort of sparkling bright suggestions for resumption of play that we might have hoped for. These lockdowns are starting to resemble the English cricket season, where rain falls for seven days out of every five, and every time the umpires walk out, it rains again anyway.


So, what, as Hortense might have put it, are the options? And what, as Madge from Altona might have replied, is stopping us. Here are three alternative approaches to the “new normal”


The Back to normal option. a jam session at the Tower Hotel, subject to social distancing, and with some limitation on numbers.


Downside: if there are too many people, we split into two sessions, maybe on separate days: Nightmare organising that lot. Most Jammers turn up at random times, other than the estimable Miss Smith, who is always late.


The Outdoors Option. An outdoor location is inherently safer, and would ease back on the numbers issue. . . Stonnington, Williamstown and Port Phillip are three Councils which might be interested: Stonnington has had an outdoor jazz programme, Williamstown has the Newport Bowls Club and Paine Reserve, and Port Phillip has an open air rotunda/bandstand in Catani Gardens.


Downside: Good luck getting that through Council, which would have to approve any use of public space. And it is bleedin’ cold at this time of year, although we would be complaining about the flies by the time it is all in place. And we might need a bit more manpower to set equipment up.


The Streaming Option: set up a “virtual” jam session and invite jammers to get involved. The software exists and should be getting better.


Downside: we lose the socialising aspects of jam sessions, which almost all jammers nominate as the most important aspect of a jam. No substitute for live and sweaty


And… Next

We would like to get some feed back from any of the jammers who are so mind-numbed by the lockdown that they still read the Jammers Newsletter (feeding twaddle to the masses since 2008). Do you have a suggestion for the future of the jam sessions? Let us know


Send us an email:     melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com


Festival and Jammers News:





The Jammers Bit

This week Facebook, the Jam Sessions, Rose’s bit and John Hannah is looking at the Castlemaine Jazz Jam – even though it is in the same purdah as the rest of us. And very little else going on at present, which could, of course, be a good thing.

Melbourne Jazz Jammer’s facebook page.

The links are at the bottom of each post. The Facebook site enjoys lots of visitors and POCKOTL regularly signs up new members to… nobody quite knows what. That is half the fun of the site, which features clips from jam sessions, plugs for gigs, contributions from jam session regulars – and at the moment rather a lot of good stuff from Gary Burton’s Berklee Jazz Improv course, which is free, but not exclusively for drummers. Quite a few jammers have done it in the past – check it out.

A quick look through the list of Facebook subscribers would suggest that most of the musicians here are of a better calibre than most of the jammers, only they get to play less; or at least they would if the jam sessions were back on again.. Go figure.

The Jam sessions

When are they back on? At present, I don’t know, the Captain don’t know, the Chief Medical Officer of Victoria don’t know, and you probably wouldn’t bother asking Donald Trump, although he would probably know..

Sooner than some of us fear – you have been warned. Stay safe.

Ed: This post was written in the middle ages CT (Covid Time) and the Melbourne world has shrunk somewhat even in the past few days since it was written and today we had 268 new cases! Stay safe and wear a mask if you can’t social distance.

The Castlemaine Jazz Jam… John Hannah

The last jam was on Sunday the first of March 2020, so long ago I can barely remember what happened. I do remember we were bursting at the seams with both musos and punters, and a good time was had by all.

Thanks to our very capable team of Gwynn, Jim, Rob and Peter. And of course, to Ken for his support in publicity. You can tune in to him and Ann on Main fm 94.9 for their great show, Jazz Life, 7 to 8 pm on Mondays. And we can’t forget our genial hosts, Anne and Mauro, who provide a free drink to all who perform.

I also remember that since Mauro installed a new PA with a Mackie 32 channel 8 bus mixing desk we had been having sound problems. One of the problems was communication between the stage and the desk (because it’s now at the back of the room). So, I went out and bought a walkie-talkie. But that was just before the lockdown, so I haven’t yet been able to try it out.

It’s now over seven years since Ken and I started the CJJ. Although we never charged entry, recently we started asking punters for a gold coin donation. This has enabled us to buy a drum kit to be kept at the Maurocco Bar, just for the jazz jam. It needed a bit of work and our drummers, Alan, Geoff, Bill and Mike offered to help out.

I should also mention that two of our punters, Cheryl and Paul, very generously put on a BBQ at their country property for all the musos and organisers, all food and drinks provided. We are lucky to have very loyal and supportive audiences up here. They have offered to have another one when we return.

Unfortunately, Mauro is especially at risk so we have had to put off the next jam probably till January…but the way things are going, who knows. Anyhow, I’ll let you all know when that happens, and maybe some of you would like to make the short trip up the Calder for a celebratory opening.

Slim Hope (aka John Hannah)

1    The Mackie sound system is better than the Melbourne one
2    The walkie talkie will be the next source of complaint
3    It is very much hoped that the Melbourne Jammers will send a strong contingent to the next Castlemaine Jazz Jam, whenever it will be. The sessions are well run, and a lot of fun – just ask Carpet Hirsh, The Divine Miss Smith, Alan Basher Richards, Brian the tonsils, the Captain …or me (TW)

So…Another week, another load of codswallop, although it is getting harder to find the cods, let alone wallop them. Many thanks to all our readers who encourage us to write this tripe. You are all deeply implicated. Toodlepip!

Festival and Jammers:


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The Jammers: A propos of nothing

It is a bit colder than usual in the lower reaches of Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Jazz Jammers News. Apart from the chill high country wind blowing through the gratings, the extra 3b reserve copy boy, lowest of the low, has been tasked with writing this week’s load of tripe. And tasked by no less than Editor McCue, terror of the twelfth at the Bendigo Krazy Putt Mini Golf Course, and Gauleiter in Chief of this august organ. Lift the readership, he said, in a terse missive borne through the window by a terrified and underfed homing pigeon. We haven’t paid the phone bill for quite a while. You may be edified if so inclined as you sit back in your floral print chesterfield, sipping Prince of Wales tea from a bone china cup – or whatever it is you do in lockdown, without a care in the world.

Being an enterprising lad, the E3BRCB has sought the advice of some of the most medicated followers of the ongoing saga of the Jam Session – in abeyance but poised to create an appalling cacophony as soon as the shutters are up. The advice, as ever, was irrelevant.

Madge from Altona: There was a particularly fierce singer at the Helston Folk Club, every Wednesday, 5 shillings to get in, about 1967. Brenda Wootton, click here who toured the county (Cornwall) looking for opportunities to sing, with her companion John the Fish click here who was a fine guitarist, skinny, with a splendidly unkempt beard. Brenda terrified the compere who wore leather patches on his tweed jacket, and everyone else, who didn’t. The two of them acted like minor celebrities, which they would later become. John acquired the soubriquet Father of Cornish Folk Music. Brenda ended up being recognised as a poet and singer – a cultural icon for the Cornish although she was born in Ruislip or something. Madge has never heard of either of them.

Hortense: spanish, quiet, quietly desperate. Brenda McSomething lived in a dismal university share house with five disreputable students. Smarter than all of them, she excelled at cards, which is how they all passed the time when the pubs were shut. They drank a lot and studied little. She ended up in Wales, possibly. Should have gone North and married a lugubrious curate, only Paddy got there first. Hortense is quite like her, but they never met…

Rotten Ronnie Junior: briefly notorious for his ill advised fling with Hortense, otherwise a bit of a cad anyway. Since securing the fifth saxophonist spot at Mme Trixie La Belle’s Academie de Danse in Altona West, he has gone mercifully quiet.

The Vicar: not to be confused with his bicycle. Hangs out at the Altona West Combination Bus Shelter and Gospel Hall on the off-chance of I am not sure what. Do not mention the Vicar’s Wife.

There has been a consistent theme amongst the Jammers – they all miss the Jam Sessions. Thanks to the lockdown, you have clearly forgotten how appalling the jams can be. We are hoping to rectify the situation by the end of July…




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