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:




Why The Saxophone?

Laurie Savage, saxophonist and philosopher

Ted and I were talking about Covid the other day and our hope that like many another disease it would evolve to a less dangerous form, and so the conversation drifted, as conversations are wont, to evolution and the idea of the saxophone having evolved from simpler, less virulent instruments like The Ophicleide.

It probably wasn’t a case of natural selection, but rather the Ophicleide, a rather benign and woofly keyed Euphonium-like beast was hybridised and weaponised by that redoubtable mad genius, Aldolph Sax in the early 1840s.

When I was in the later years of high school in the late moon-landing-and-marijuana tinged 1960s I discovered two wireless programs that change my life in subtle ways: Relax with me hosted by Arch McKirdy (2BL), and John Thompson’s Underground (2SM). In most ways they were chalk and cheese but in another, very important, way they were very similar. Both programs played music one would never hear on the steam wireless. Arch McKirdy introduced me to Phil Woods (“What are you doing the rest of your life*”), Ben Webster, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Hank Mobley, Gerry Mulligan and others, while John Thompson introduced me to Mike Bloomfield, Howling Wolf, Johnny Winter and many other blues based bands, some brilliant, some not. The saxophone caught my ear and so did the blues.

So, why the saxophone? Simple, I can’t sing**. I loved the English guitarists like Alvin Lee, Eric Clapton and Robyn Trower, and was wrapt in the electric bass of Jack Bruce with its deep growling melodic lines. So I borrowed a bass and gave it back a day later – I hated the feel of it, I have absolutely no affinity for stringed instruments. But, a friend’s Dad was an altoist in a dance band and let me have a blow; it was love at first honk.

Men in my family were not encouraged to play music, serious literature was OK, sport was ideal but music was not something men did so it took a while. When I was 30 I bought a sax, took music lessons and as soon as I could arpeggiate 3 chords and force high notes by biting the reed I went to blues jams. Nothing much changed for a long time but I got better and sometimes manage to play something I’m happy with and that makes people smile.

*WAYDTROYL must have been the least appropriate opening score for a movie about Horatio Hornblower.

** Yes, singers, I know … anyone can sing. That’s probably true for women because their voices don’t break. It’s different for many men.

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.

France : The Jazz Summer School Experience

By John Curtis, pianist

In August 2009 I was fortunate enough to participate in the Advanced Improviser’s Course with the Mediterranean Jazz Summer School held at a beautiful old chateau (Chateau du Bijou) near Chomerac in the Ardeche department in southern France about midway between Lyon and Marseille just to the left of the Rhone River. There was a singers’ course running in parallel and we all lived at the chateau for the week of the courses. In the food department we were exceedingly well looked after by a French family who normally ran a small restaurant in Chomerac I think. Whatever, it was great French fare with wine on tap. Breakfast of course included coffee and croissants. Dinner was usually quite comprehensive.

The school was run by Clive Fenner, an excellent drummer from East London and a very nice person. He has been running the course every year for quite a few years now as well as a sister course in Havana for Cuban music. He was ably assisted by a number of excellent musicians from the UK working as tutors on the course including two pianists, a saxophonist, a bass player and two singers. The students included about twenty singers, two pianists, two drummers, three saxophonists and two guitarists. We had people from the UK, Holland, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and, of course, Australia.

As part of the selection process you were asked to outline your jazz experience including the instruments played, length of time playing jazz, music qualifications, individual lessons taken, courses/workshops attended, band experience, reading ability, improvisational ability, how easily you were able to learn new material, repertoire, strengths as a musician plus what areas you thought you needed to develop in your playing and what particular things you were hoping to learn or get from the course.

Each day first thing after breakfast we started with some physical movement exercises which sometimes included timing-related activities. Then typically during the day we would participate in small group workshops learning to perform assigned pieces as a group, choir workshops (which included the instrumentalists), listening workshops designed to facilitate transcription and learning by ear, specialist workshops (for example the two pianists had specialists sessions with the principal piano tutor Simon Purcell), big band workshops and, in the afternoon after lunch, rehearsals with individual singers. The pianists were in demand for these rehearsals, so the afternoons were a lot busier than I expected. They were nominally for individual practice but who’s complaining.

After dinner each evening, we had a jam session which, as often as not, went well beyond midnight. The tutors also participated and there were some great performances helped along by a liberal supply of beer and wine. The catch was we had to get up quite early in the morning so by the end of the week you can imagine we were all a bit ragged.To round out the course we put on a concert for the Chomerac locals. The audience was fortunately very appreciative and the jam session afterwards concluded a great week. We all parted company the next morning and I took the train back to Paris to meet Lynne who was arriving there that day.

I have to thank Ray Hood for putting me onto the course. Some will know Ray as a regular attendee of our jam sessions in the past. As I recall Agus Batara has also attended the course. Unfortunately, Clive Fenner has been sick (1) and I don’t know whether the course will continue to be offered. I would certainly be happy to recommend it if it is. The one-week immersion was a very enjoyable experience and it definitely helped me to further my jazz objectives.

John Curtis

The debonair Curtis returned from this course a different piano player, bursting with new ideas and I had to steal all his hottest licks all over again…

(1) Clive Fenner died in 2019 but the courses in France continue.


Clive Fenner 1949 to 2019

The Jammers Bit: The Music Edition. Good Grief!

It has come to my attention that many of you are coping rather well with the stage 4 lockdown. This is to stop at once – we have Government regulations against that sort of thing.

We understand that Jammers have been surreptitiously listening to music *(see below) and making ISO recordings on the sly, and posting them unnecessarily to Facebook. This sort of behaviour could break the internet, or at least clog up the Facebook part of it. We must ask that you wipe that smug grin off your face, or maybe not as you are probably wearing a mask anyway. There are consequences for such irrational attitudes and it must stop at once.

Examples of the moral decline of civilisation as we know it might include the demise of Lipstick Manufacturies, the demise of the Flu season, the status of Free Victoria as the only state which hasn’t shut its borders to anyone, the discovery that home percolated coffee is just as good as a cold cup from a half shut Barista, and you do not need bread anymore as Marg is baking it for you..

And, for Godsake, will someone kindly go out and catch the flu – seems almost no-one has this year and it is playing hell with the statistics.

What a lucky life!

What have the Jammers been listening to?

Jeff Harris: last listened to A Night in Tunisia, and is so bored he has taken up piano.

John Curtis is locked up in South Bank, as he should be, and has been listening to a French CD he bought years ago – so obscure that he cannot remember its name, although I am sure if he could he would pronounce it with an appropriate French accent. Grave probably

John Curtis

Cardinal Calamatta has been listening to Argentine tango called Nostalgias, by a composer called Pablo something or other. He has had a break from saxophone, lost his embouchure, and is now getting it back – sweetest tone of any of the regular saxopholologists.


POCKOTL (Marg) has now pruned everything in her garden to approximately ground level, and is baking bread while it all grows again. She has been listening to some Jimi Hendrix. Rock chick…


Deborah “have you been listening to the Republican National Convention” Salkov has been learning Orange Coloured Sky and listening to Lady Gaga who she thinks is rather good.

Gina (Tower Hotel Manager) has been swanning around Queensland, but promises to come back and re-open the Tower. Bopping around to Beyonce at the moment.

Doug “haircut” Kuhn last listened to chanteuse Patricia Barber and seems to have got the lockdown two step down pat.

And finally, Captain Chaos hasn’t been listening to his phone as he hasn’t answered yet. I am reliably informed he is well and listening to Trains – the Blue Note Tokyo All Stars Jazz Orchestra. He has also been practicing and accidentally played a hot solo last week. We have told him to have a Bex and a lie down…

Captain Chaos

Festival and Jammers News:
Sad news from Port Fairy- the Jazz Festival has been cancelled for this year – not a great surprise as the much bigger Folk Festival was cancelled about three weeks ago. We will do a ring round and get an update on all the Festivals soon. It is going to be ugly…

Click on the links for the Festival website etc. Etc.


Tales from the Pantry and other Jam Sessions

Along time ago before ISO, there were two chooks who would free range the local pub scenes.

One was known as Henrietta. This afternoon she was hoping to lubricate her vocal chords and strut her stuff on the stage.
The other, Cordelia, loved to display her talents on the guitar. She was a mean plucker and picker with a plectrum.

Both smart chicks would always come early to the venue and set up their equipment.

This particular Sunday the talent scouts were out and the house was packed with music lovers and jammers.
The chicks did a quick sound check and then launched into a well -known country/blues song called “Chickens in the Barnyard” They were singin’ an pickin’ an’ the whole room were jiggin’ along.

Suddenly out of no -where, the sound equipment failed: but, the band, bein’ a roost of ole time troopers, kept a mimin’ a strummin’ and a drummin’.

The Sound guys tried a fiddlin’ and a pokin’ but still they could not get electrified. There were cries of it’s not “our” equipment, it’s not “our” fault, why don’t you check yours? Hey!

The two chicks muttered and apologized. They were not used to having their feathers ruffled. Wildly embarrassed they packed up their stuff and retired to the bar.

Moral of the Tale:

Hens should never leave home without extra batteries.

Signed: “Cookin”. Classes from the Pantry.

Drummers Lies


Hello fellow jammers,

Mr Hirsh here,

It has come to my attention that the Jammers news backroom copy boy, (thrice removed), has been struggling to find credible contributions due to the pressure of this wretched pandemic.

So to lighten the load, here is for your enjoyment are the top 20 lies that aspiring drummers may tell you, in an effort to get some urgent attention.

Top 20 Lies Told By Drummers

  1. I can play that
  2. Metronomes hurt your “Feel”
  3. I wasn’t fired; the producer just likes to work with his own people.
  4. The album/CD is doing really well
  5. I practice 5 hours per day
  6. I never practice
  7. I’m doing tons of sessions
  8. I played on the record, but I wasn’t credited
  9. I never play Top 40
  10. It’s not what you play, it’s what you don’t play that counts
  11. Your girlfriend/partner is really cool
  12. I’ll put you on the guest list
  13. Sure, I know that tune
  14. I’m really good friends with him
  15. He’s totally cool
  16. We are huge in Japan
  17. I recorded every track on the 1st take
  18. The drum sounds were amazing, but the engineer screwed up the mix
  19. He really likes my playing
  20. I’m gonna be in Modern Drummer next month

Working with Musicians…..

We have all experienced embarrassing performances with members of a band due to lack of communication.
If you are lucky enough to be a Vocalist who has studied theory you should know a great deal about music and how to convey what you require.
Rather than just theory, other Vocalists may have spent time practising and perfecting Vocal skills – learning by ear – and expect the members of the band to figure out everything for you. (ie. key of song and the feel you want). This can be a recipe for trouble……a bit like speaking a dialect of a language and hoping the musicians will work it out on stage for you!

Here are some tips to help.
Prepare...this includes attending with a chart; and
Practise counting the song in….

Many problems are encountered because the Vocalist is not aware of the complexity of music and then not able to convey this to the band – such as the feel of a song….bossa etc.

You should be aware that some band members really prefer a melody line and chords and others will be ok with chords…..

Even if you do not get everything right you will gain the respect of musicians because you have made an effort to prepare.

All Love

Ebonyrose xx

The Jammers Bit: When do we open a jam session?

Due to the complete absence of any positive news vis a vis the Jammers, this week’s Newsletter is looking at the story of Rob Petrie, Gelignite and the Cessna 206, Heritage architecture, and why you never have two clocks in an aeroplane. All of it true, of course, and almost exclusively irrelevant. Finishing, as you do, with hopes of a Jam Session.

Petrie was a lunatic, but a big, likeable bloke. Invariably dressed in a faded uniform with the obligatory Blundstones,. He had a heart of gold, a tatty Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife career, an enthusiasm for arresting mutton birders, and a penchant for big explosions. I first met him sitting in an overloaded Cessna 206, with my feet propped up on a box which the pilot had put forward to help balance the weight.

The Cessna 206 It was a 20 minute flight to Maria Island, and its grass airstrip with notorious winds off Bishop and Clerk making the landing interesting, as you had to buzz the strip first to chase off the kangaroos and Cape Barren geese, then turn around quickly and land before they wandered back. There is a.100 foot drop off the cliff at the end of the strip into the sea.

A Cessna 206 on the “runway” at Darlington air strip.

check out the landing conditions!

Gelignite: About 10 minutes into the flight, I turned round and asked Rob what was in the box under my feet. “Gelignite” he said. Lovely stable stuff and quite inert until it goes bang. There were no vehicles on the island, so Rob was going to use the gelignite to shift some rock.

About this much…

About an hour after we got to Maria Island, I was moving around the old convict settlement, photographing and surveying the original buildings, as heritage architects do… I had to stop for a while as Rob wanted to blow out some rocks to put in a drainage pipe. Quite safe, he said, and promptly blew a rock through the roof of the Coffee Palace at a range of about 75 yards.

Heritage Architecture: He also managed to blow a crack in the end wall of the Men’s prison, thereby revealing the original doorway to the Mess Hall which was mentioned in the Diego Bernacchi records, but had never been found. Unusual survey technique, made my day..

Petrie’s drainage pipe later worked a treat as well, so it was a pretty productive effort all round.

The clock: On the return trip in the Cessna, we flew off the end of the cliff, and climbed steadily. The dasboard had two of everything except the clock. Nick the pilot explained that a clock was an handy navigational tool, and you either had one and hoped it worked, or you had three. If you only had two and one was, say ten minutes out, you wouldn’t know which was which, where you were and when you would fly into the mountain. There were only two things that Nick didn’t like when flying – cumulo nimbus and cumulo granite. Best to avoid the latter.

The Jam Session: I don’t know where Petrie is now – or Nick for that matter – it was a long time ago, but the clock concept is relevant to Victoria today. We had a first wave of pandemic which seemed to go fairly easily, that is one clock. But then a second wave which, hopefully, will subside but that is only two clocks. – but you can tell better how the pandemic will behave when you get the third wave, because it becomes more and more predictable. Only then could you even contemplate opening a jam session safely.

Just a thought…


Festival and Jammers News:




The Jammers Bit: And another thing

Greets. The emails we are sending out have resulted in lots of correspondence with a whole lot of jammers. – a common theme being, “can’t wait to get back to the jam sessions” – for a whole lot of reasons, not all of them entirely musical.

This week’s codswallop includes a couple of links – copy and paste, people! Huich’s session at Bar Ousso is good, and Ivan’s diatribe on bass players (the Bass Rabbit Hole) is addictive once you get started.

Madge has, reportedly, been up to her usual shenanigans, although she is finding the curfew somewhat hard for a tired old tart who tries not to get up before 8pm anyway, and has spent the best years of her life on a park bench at 5am in the morning. Madge has always been a bit of snob, and considers the merchant seamen of her acquaintance somewhat beneath her. Well, they were on the park bench.


  • Ivan Sultanoff on bass players
  • Ebony Rose on relaxation
  • Huich’s Bar Ousso jaunt


Let’s start with a Rolling Stone link to a history of Strange Fruit Well worth a read – find out at the end who the “last racist” might be. Have we ever covered this at a jam?

‘Nuff said. Stay home, stay healthy and stop roaming the streets at night, For those of you still practising your reading -something to amuse…Read on!

Festival and Jammers News:





Deep Breathing

More from Rose, on singing.This week: deep breathing


Find a quiet place where you can connect with your breathing.

Lying on your back feel the rise and fall of your breath – no manipulation, no control just awareness of breathing….exhale all the air in your lungs. When you take a full breath, the lungs are completely filled, feel the fullness all around the back area as well.


A vocalist must learn to strengthen the muscles of the back as well to maintain more control and be able to extend the notes when singing. Standing have the feet hip width apart and the pelvis slightly tilted in with shoulders back and chest out exhale all air and then inhale.

Remember your whole body is your instrument. Forced resonance will affect pitch and tone. Use the relaxation exercises to release tension created by physical and emotional stress, and to maximise vocal ability.

Dynamic Breath

Concentrate on feelings of inner energy, working through awareness of breath in the body. When doing the deep breathing it will release negative emotions such as anger, frustration and nervousness.

Deep breathing can be addictive! – Just try it.

All Love