The Jammers’ Bit

Is the standard of jazz getting better…

One has to wonder.. usual start at 4.10pm sharp, which gave the Captain an extra nine minutes to fiddle with the foldback, and Toby time to connect newcomer Salvatore‘s violin rig to the PA system. The foldbacks worked at their best for about 3 minutes, then went steadily downhill with adjustment. Sal’s violin setup, on the other hand, worked remarkably well, particularly when Sal was connected to the other end of it.

So… no bass player for a while, but a lively start to the session, and a rummage through the Debster‘s bag of tricks before Peter Garram got up with Miss Kay, Carol sang her usual immaculate set, and Ivan turned up to supply the missing bass lines.

Laurie put up some clean toned sax, Roger had a dip on guitar, Alan saxed and Jane sang.

As the arvo wore on the pub filled up with the usual assortment of jammers, startlingly single women reading E-books by the window, families with mothers escaping the humdrum , precocious kids, locals, interstate tourists on a last drink before the airport, and the usual motley crew of ruffians, ratbags and the St Kilda glitterati. So polycultural a crew in fact that we hardly need pay attention to the jam.

But we did, and a splendidly raucous racket it was, Okto on his axe, saxophones wailing about far too loud, and the Captain having such a good time, he managed to revive Little Sunflower and we didn’t mind a bit. Probably helped that Malcolm, in an avuncular mood, was on top of it Play barely settled until well after 7.30, when the usual few jammers ordered meals and sympathy at the bar. As ever, Gilbert saw us out, and the Perri bossed the remnant crew about until sticks. He told us he was a professional, in case we forgot. We didn’t.

Which brings me back to where we started. Is the standard of jazz getting better? It seems to be at one of its periodical high points, from which no doubt it will soon relapse, but what the hell, we had fun, again, didn’t we?

See ya this Sunday?

The Jammers Bit

Meanwhile, back at the Post…

Well, a few of us shot through to Port Fairy (see below) leaving the nearly famous B team to disport themselves as they wished at the famed landmark and watering hole, also known as the Post.

Rashly, or perhaps not, we left Miss Kay to wield the organisational rattan cane as required, aided and abetted by the Debster. The girls had a pretty good time of it, what with a few of the regulars holding it up, and a few newbies adding a touch of class. Discipline was excellent, I am told.

Precocious youth, John Bell and The Debster

So… props to Peter G and the Curtis on keys, Richard Gale who struggled with Yuko‘s choice of ‘orrible key for A train, and ‘orrible chart for Round Midnight. Slawie dropped by, first time in a while, Shahar and Jonathan, fresh from busking at South Melbourne market, joined in to show us all how it should be done, and John Perri put up a longish session on drums. With regulars Anton (bass) Okto (guitar), John Bell (trumpet), plus all the names I didn’t recognise, a pretty good line up.

All told, seventeen musicians darkened the door, threw hats metaphorically in the ring, and had a good time anyway. Maybe more next week?

Upcoming opportunities for a gig

Mike at the Post has offered us three Wednesday night spots at the post – 26th Feb, 25th March and 25th April, each to be a two hour slot for a quartet (piano, bass, drums and soloist) and singer. This has come about following the two sessions we did with Katerina Myskova and Jess Dams.

If you would like to get involved, let us know at the jam session.

The Jammers Bit

31 seems to be the new normal

Not that we would ever accuse anyone at a Jam Session of being normal, but for the second week in a row, there were 31 musicians at the Caelidh, all keen for a bit of a fling, and, by the end of the evening, all had been, hopefully, been accommodated. Well done Captain Chaos, although it was a close run thing… 12 singers was the feature of the arvo. Each sang three songs, suitably elongated to accommodate various soloists.

John Bell and Rose

Pick of the singers this week was a fine set from Jane, from Yuko, Kerry and Aimee, sweet afters from Rose, welcome back, patience from Kay, with the cheese and biscuits course supplied by Gilbert, and Susanna who you may remember from Leinster Arms days – or not as the case may be. Carol put up a confident set, and Tye surprised some of us (mainly me) by putting in a fine version of My Way. More to come from the lad…

Of the soloists, Alan, Jeff and Laurie saxed things up, and John Bell continues to glow brighter on trumpet by the week.

Laurie looking worried, Ivan and Malcolm

I am sure I have forgotten to mention somebody other than the drummers, and bass players, all of whom I have managed to ignore entirely because you can from time to time. Oh alright, here’s a pic of Chantelle with Pete on Bass, Malcolm on keys.

Chantelle on drums – welcome back!

We finished rather late due to having to fit in over 30 musicians – again. Pizza on the way home. It really is the new normal.

The Third Jam Session of 2020

Will be this Sunday, 2nd February at 4.00pm. At The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman Street. Lots to look forward to – John Curtis will be on keyboards starting shortly after breakfast and finishing in the middle of the night. I have been invited to the Castlemaine Jam, forward to which I am rather looking.

Plenty of parking around the Hotel (Bath Street is the go – it is off Inkerman behind the Post). Come to think of it, everything is off Inkerman, other than Inkerman itself. Or just waddle in with ya weapon of choice, get yer name on the list and whoops you’re in..

Enthusiasm essential, charts a bonus, performance anxiety optional, and competence to be well concealed as a kindness to others…

Update: The Newport Jazz Festival May 2nd and May 3rd, 2020

The Captain keeps posting more bands to the website wranglers – and we are now full of big bands which is a great headache to have.

The Two bands per musician malarkey: As a small Festival, we decided at the outset that we would limit all musicians to a maximum of two bands. This has a significant benefit for the playing programme as there are a lot less “clashes” to avoid. If you are still looking for a band to play with, why not give Col a call – the number is on the Contact tab of the website.

The Committee: Met this week, we now over 40 bands registered – and the Committee has been discussing ways of shooting the laggards should we be over subscribed.

Facebook/Whats App/Twitter: someone tell me how we do this. Please. Still waiting

Promo Cards: seemed like a few of you liked the idea of double sided cards. Going fast.We will get some more soon.

The Website Jess has given a much needed spruce up to the website with updated information and photos of at least some of the bands. We have also sorted out the Paypal situation though the handy expedient of disabling the option. Some payments have gone through on Paypal, and some will have been refunded.

Check out the website (updated) , like it on your Facebook page

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

The Jammers Bit: An Experiment

What an appalling day for a jam session: buckets of rain just when we were arriving, and surely not many musos would be so desperate as to arrive in this downpour.

Never underestimate the depths to which a musician in need of a blow will sink, say I. We had a quorum well before 4.00, and by the end of a very long day, had 30 musos get up and trip the light fantastic, metaphorically, of course.

The Experiment: Just to make sure no-one knew what we were doing, we tried using a clipboard – wrote down everyone’s names as they rocked up, in the mistaken assumption that we would then get everyone more or less equal playing time in the order in which they arrived. Sort of. Didn’t work entirely to plan, of course, partly because we hadn’t got the plan in the first place, and partly because musicians tend to arrive in ones and twos, and not, as would have been most helpful, in band – sized chunks.

Dream on! We will try it again. Let’s face it, we did manage to get through all 30, and still get home in time for a brief snooze before breakfast. We are saving time – necessary as numbers increase, by cutting down on solos, (one or two per tune, but not the eight we had the previous week) while still trying to give all (and not just a few) soloists individual playing time.

Gilbert, cool as ever, waiting his turn

Sound: The sound system worked well from the start. This is always ominous, as the only way to go is downhill from there, which it did. Next week, we will pay particular attention to the vocals , if not the vocalists themselves. The foldbacks, however, worked well, which was a strange experience for all of us.

Highlights of the day? For me, Will, Satsuko and Guy (sax/sax/tpt) put up a hot set. Malcolm managed to stick with the PA/foldback speakers – first time he has played without the Roland amp, but really, the sound was better, and better balanced.

Will, Guy and (?) Satsuko put up a hot set

Lisette played her usual immaculate self, with a touch of suave, if not an arpeggio or three.

John Perri seems to have hit a purple patch and again drummed beautifully. Mac and Hussein not far behind him.

There were far too many vocalists for the Captain’s liking (I wonder how many he does like?) but he persisted and got them all up. Newcomers Fiona and Anne the Second were terrific. Gilbert and Yuko in particular copped a dodgy mic channel, which the brains trust attempted to remedy by adjusting, then disconnecting the Bass channel. I cannot imagine why this wouldn’t work…but it surely didn’t. Sorry chaps, will do better next week.

All About the Bass: Ivan played most of the arvo, never missed a beat and was pick of the day.

Definitely a bigger and better jam – the standard of the music was consistently higher than usual.

Another fine mess..

Strolled into the Post Hotel, watering hole of the alternative gentry, and apparently of the Aldi clientele from up the road, and whoever lives in Elwood, plus a whole load of randoms from other salubrious suburbs with their wives, children, surfing companions, chauffeurs and familiars….and that was just the audience.

Rose, who did not sing, and doesn’t dance on the table

Where was I? Ah, yes, the Jam session, and would I kindly write a review, subtly naming everyone who turned up so they get to read their names hidden in the depths of this twaddle like a jewel in the compost heap of life; and come again, the following week.

Pockotl and Rod who neither sang nor danced on the table

So, we started (this is the review bit) with a ten minute hiatus whilst Captain Chaos searched high and low for a chart to Mercy Mercy Mercy, didn’t find it and made the unsuspecting Jess sing it anyway, even though she had only heard it for the first time on her I-Phone three minutes earlier, and had three or four other well rehearsed songs ready to roll.

 

Sir Roger de Coverley, not to be outdone, got up and played a lively little set of I can’t remember which, Jeff clarinetted to Jess’s medley of Ella Fitz songs, and the Captain, Laurie and Alan variously played on a variety of saxophones, and chinese floots, to a variety of toons. It was with some relief that we got to Laurie’s C minor blues in one piece. He likes that stuff and it shows. Followed by a fine cameo from Rob, who last played guitar at, I think, the Leinster in about 1455 -1485, shortly before, during or after the wars of the roses. Or not, as the case may be… He hasn’t lost his touch.

Sir Roger De Coverley, the indefatigable Anton, and The Debonair Mr Curtis

What else? Drums ably handled by Steve Bray and Michael Findlay, Anton cruised in, and proceeded to play for the rest of the session, the lone but classy bassist. Marion struggled with the mic, then got it right and recordered away. Trevor harped on for a while, The Curtis accompanied various singers beautifully, Brian and then Carol sang some trainwrecks with gusto, Malcolm turned up late, to hear Peter Garram on the keys – (note to the organisers, the Garram plays a mean blues) – Then Huich fiddled a bit, Susie sang Black Coffee, after which, Malcolm got up to accompany Annie the Smith, with trumpeter Guy joining in, eventually joined by Kay for another dip, this time on Mercy Mercy Mercy. For some strange reason, this was executed for the second time in the session at a funereal pace.

Trevor the Harp

What a splendid afternoon’s mess: thoroughly not to be taken too seriously. Of which, Jess topped the lot of them with her version of Adele’s version of Billy Joel’s version of the Bob Dylan ballad To Make You Feel My Love. Wow!

Jam Session? Another fine mess indeed. Ya wouldn’t be dead for quids! See you soon.

 

The Next Jam Session

Yes, we are doing it all again, at the Post Hotel, corner of Inkerman and St Kilda Road, on Sunday 1st August, 4.00 start. The Captain (but not the chaos) and Malcolm will be away, there is another fine Jam Session in Castlemaine the same day, so whoever turns up at the Post will get the run of the joint – more tunes, more trainwrecks, etc. etc.

Serious Jazz? Tits to that! (*)

Jam sessions in Melbourne come and go – we have lost count of how many have blossomed, flourished, faded and carked it. There should be a hotly contested prize for the serious session with the shortest life span… not that the Post would be hoisting the trophy, for at least two reasons.

The most likely explanation of the longevity of the Jam Sessions is that we have not yet got it right, do not know how to get it right, and have very little clue as to how to get it wrong, but keep trying.. Creative incompetence, BoJo (**) style, perhaps?

This week’s jam at St Kilda’s Post and Part Time Furniture Store (have you seen upstairs?) was, it could be said, on a downward trajectory – smaller than previous weeks, and musically a bit loose.

So… what, as the Curate (***) said, were the parts of it that were excellent?

The sound: just about as good as it gets. Captain Chaos has taking to adjusting the twiddly bits on the mixer, with, admittedly, disappointing results. In his heyday, the pub would have been burnt to the ground by now.

The fully engaged audience of punters, kids, hopefuls and lunatics. Most of whom, sensibly, huddle on the far side of the bar, although, to be fair, the Captain reckons that is the “sweet spot” sound wise.

The singers (fewer this week) who tend to get in the way of an extended saxophone/flute/clarinet solo from time to time. Accidentally of course, but much to the relief of the considerable number of friends they bring with them. The soloists generally arrive early and on their own. You may draw your own conclusions.

The big wind up at the end. Although not, perhaps, as good as the previous two weeks: Mustang Sally robustly and comprehensively explored. Are we going to keep the all-in smorgasbord finale of recent weeks going? We should, at least until we either cock it up, forget to do it, or accidentally play Little Sunflower (****) instead.

Mustang Sally : L-R Col,Alan, Vlad, Singer, Kay, Piers, Annie, (Malcolm) Michael, Octo
  • * “Serious Jazz? Tits to that” … a quote from one of the 322 ads we have put in Melband. We are not allowed to say that any more. Apparently “serious jazz” offends some people.
  • ** Obscure but on point reference to Boris.
  • *** The Curate’s Egg, as featured in Punch Magazine, November 9, 1895 . “Parts of it were excellent”. But of course, you knew that…
  • **** “ accidentally play Little Sunflower” : fondly remembered as the longest and dullest tune in the repertoire, this once went for an appalling 11 minutes at the Leinster. Several audience members had woken up by the time it finished.

Awards Night. Don’t be silly, there isn’t one, but if there was…

Best Violin; Huich – great solos.

Best Guitar: Octo – a bit of shredding going on, but in a tasteful way. Neil, Vlad and the Queenslander all needed more volume at times..

Best Saxophonist: Go on, sulk, the rest of you – Will was easily the best this week. Alan, Jeff, Col all placed well, and Calamatta had a hot solo in there somewhere.

Best Pianist: Malcolm managed to keep the vol at a sensible level, chose his organ sounds sparingly and appropriately, subtly drove the others to greater heights on Mustang Sally. And packed up afterwards – what’s not to like?

Best Bass: Pete and Slawie were their usual excellent selves, but it was great to see Piers back – clean bass lines, absolutely rock solid tempo.

Best Singer: This one was easy: there is no such thing as a best singer, they are all good, and if you don’t want your eyes scratched out, you will keep it that way.

So… 24 musos rocked up, mucked around a bit, and walked back out into the rain well chuffed. Not the greatest Jam Session ever, but a solid afternoon’s work all round. Train wreck next week, please, we have to maintain our usual standard (often referred to as “abysmal”).

See you Sunday?

Will and the Captain
The Andrews Sisters, possibly

Next Jam Session will be on Sunday 18th August, starting at 4.00pm

The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman Street, St Kilda

You can park on St Kilda Road (Sunday, no restrictions). Public parking is available on Bath Street, just past the Hotel on Inkerman Street. Or catch a tram if they are running, or take a helicopter, land elsewhere and get an Uber. Or walk. Or take the bus, but fer gawdsake bring it back. Or come the next week instead.

Sunday Jazz : a pleasant afternoon in St Kilda

The Captain writes…

Four regular jammers were not in attendance as they had gone up the Calder to perform at the Castlemaine monthly jam (see “Moonlighting” below). A couple of others may have been seen at the Ringwood Soiree. Despite this, the Post Jam went ahead at full steam with 16 musicians taking part.

Due to the absence of a regular pianist it was decided to rearrange the stage which was universally found to be acceptable. Then the music started. Malcolm H, Peter G and John C played the keys. Peter and David put in the bass notes and Sala and Maged caressed the skins and belted some brass.  Jeff H played soprano sax and clarinet (not at the same time). Laurie S and myself were on tenor with Alan West on alto and various percussion devices. Laurie, Jeff and Alan Alan did a great version of Chitlins Con Carne.

Marion Lustig appeared towards the end of the session and played some magical recorder. Her rendition of Louie Armstrong’s Melancholy Blues was a stand out on the afternoon/evening. With only 2 vocalists, Jane L and Kay Y with able to perform more than the normal number of tunes. Jane’s God Bless the Child was special and Kay, s up beat version of What a Wonderful World got the loudest applause of the session.

Footnote: Alan West has found a great way to get a lift home. He experienced an acute attack of vertigo at the end of last week’s session which resulted in an ambulance being called. He ended up getting a ride home via the Alfred Hospital. It was also noted by several males who were present when the ambulance arrived, that, if the two young female paramedics  were typical ambos then they would consider  trying Alan’s strategy themselves.. Seriously, all’s well that ends well. Thanks must go to Marion Lustig and Bette Nash for the care and attention they gave Alan.

Kay and Dave on bass                                         Pete (bass) and Jane                                           Alan, sitting down

The Survey: Jam Sessions Who, what, when, where, but probably not why…

Actually, it is extremely hard to ask an unbiased question… but we took 20 surveys at the pre Christmas bash, and came up with the startlingly boring conclusion that

(a) Session Times: Almost all of us prefer the Sunday arvo time slot to any other

(b) Festivals: More than half the respondents had attended a Jazz Festival in 2018

(c) Likes: Quite a few people nominated the social aspects of the Jam Sessions as an important factor in deciding to attend (we are, apparently, a friendly lot.). Several respondents said they liked the variety of music.

(d) Dislikes: About half the respondents said the music was too loud at times. Several mentioned “dithering about between songs.”

(e) Featured Singers etc. Almost everyone wanted another Featured Singer series, most wanted a featured soloist series, and fewer thought a featured band series would work. One suggested a “featured rhythm section” – we tried something like this in October and it ran well – with up to 12 musos playing or singing at once.

Festivals: On average, we attended 25.3 sessions per year – the 0.3 explains why some people leave early? There were 48 sessions in 2018

Newbies: One person suggested we introduce first timers by name so regulars know who they are. Again a friendly lot, and we might try this. We have been putting names and photos in the Newsletter from time to time – this started when one person asked “who the hell is Captain Chaos?” At least five of us pointed at the (former) Duracell Kid.

Variety: several respondents said they liked the variety of music, one hacked into the Rhythm Section when they don’t know the charts. That is a bit harsh, as the saxophonists and singers almost always call the tune, and do not, as a rule, have the chutzpah to fake it like the lads at the back.

Sound and light: A couple of people raised the issue of sound (the 15 year old PA/Speakers had already done around 150 gigs before we started using them for the Jam, and the microphones are all well hammered). Lighting could be better, but it took a lot of persuasion to get Dodgy Dave to install a spot on the soloist/singer. We’ll try again.

The Newsletter and publicity: We published 48 newsletters in 2018. These received 13,185 hits, slightly less than the previous year. Peak readership last year was June 2018 (1,942 hits). We have a comprehensive database for the newsletter (400 -550 names at any one time) but do not release these details. If anyone asks for a contact, we will always check first with that person that it is ok to pass on their details.The majority of newcomers find us via Google. Facebook is undergoing a tidy up.

Sunday Jazz at The Junktion Hotel: A lot of people and a bit of chaos


TRather more people than usual turned up for this one – including about five people from Canberra, along with about 345 extremely well behaved tinlids, who sat through the afternoon and appeared to enjoy it all.

The usual opening fusillade of jazz standards, with the Captain lighting up some smooth sax lines, the inimitable John Curtis priming himself for the featured duo of Debbie and Ashley. It was all going swimmingly, until, eventually, the Captain felt enough was enough and called for the big spanner, putting up Ash and Deb whilst the debonair Mr C was nowhere to be seen, and meself got finagled into sitting in as the Debster started with a tune I didn’t know. If it had any more flats, we could have taken it to VCAT. Mercifully, John returned, with a wry grin, and the thought occurred that he might have deliberately hand passed the opening tunes… couldn’t happen could it?

As a result, the duo set wasn’t as smooth as we could have hoped – no reflection on the singers, as they harmonised beautifully, but organisationally this wasn’t our finest moment. The cock was definitely upped…

Didn’t seem to matter, and over the next coupla hours, over 20 musicians got up and boogied. “twas fun, but…

Manal was back and sang with her usual mixture of nerves and charm. The ever improving Laurie blew some nice lines, Will ditto,ditto, nobody died and nothing got broken, well maybe a little bit but who cares….

Pre Christmas Bash: Sunday 16th December

After some discussion with Dodgy Dave, we have set the date for 16th December, with a start time of 3.00pm. For those that want to, we suggest we stop for a meal at 6.00pm or thereabouts – negotiations are being held with the production staff –

Costume Director: Annie Smith, with hats

Reindeer Wrangler: Jack Morris if I can get him

Marketing and Promotion:  You: ring ya mates

The Bash has always been a chance for new, old, decrepit and lapsed jammers to get together and sneer at the current crop. As you love a bit of scurrilous gossip (who doesn’t?) this is a great opportunity to get on the bandwagon, meet old friends, possibly wish you hadn’t,and if so inclined, blow the tits off yer fave toon or three.

Be there!

Featured Singer?

No featured singer this week, you will just have to feature yourselves. Our last featured singer of this year will be Annie Smith on 9th December

Next Jam, this Sunday 2nd December, 4.00pm start,

The Junktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on the corner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley Park Road, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops off Fenton Street from High St, Kew.