A fine turn-out of jammers past and present for the funeral of Al Papa Jazz and for the ensuing wake and jam session at The Leinster Arms. These were both sad and happy affairs. If Al brought one thing to the jam sessions, it was his understanding that joining in is the spirit of the jam: not bravura performance, or musicianship, or being able to play faster or louder than anyone else: just being in the moment. So props to JC, Kevin, Mike Hirsh, the Captain, Tim, Miss Smiff, Julie Stewart, Frank the Indefatigable and all the others for getting up and playing. The music goes on.
As we know Al Papa Jazz, aka Alan White, passed away last Thursday. He has not been forgotten as the large crowd assembled at the Fawkner Memorial Park in Sydney Road attested. He missed his birthday by a few days but his family ensured that all and sundry could farewell him in an appropriate manner. This was duly continued at the Leinster Arms where the taps ran free and surely Alan would have enjoyed himself immensely had he been there. I am told he would have especially enjoyed the free beer!
Once again Alan, this is for you, . . . and the girls Julie and Annie sang Summertime ably supported by Mike (drums), Kevin (guitar), Frank (bass) and John (piano).
We will miss you.
The Melbourne Jazz Jammers
Wild times on Sunday at a packed Lizard Lounge and Lunatic Soup Kitchen, aka The Leinster Arms. Hortense may have been hovering in the nether regions, as she is wont to do, complaining sotto voce that there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat. Actually, neither Hortense nor her pussy have been swinging much of late, ever since that unfortunate incident when Rotten Ronnie Junior got into a fight and suffered a nasty blow in the Ballarat region.
But I digress. Back at the Gold Street Gossip Saloon, another eight saxophonists turned up, making for a right old shemozzle of an afternoon’s entertainment. Taariq (bass) was as happy as a pig in the proverbial, what with getting to play for about three hours without a break, Rod Murray, Gentlemen John Curtis, Bob and meself got away with having the piano turned up, Louis, Glen and Andrew contributed percussively, whilst Fred continued to hammer his bongos/congas into the ground. Anne H and Lisbeth did the vocals, Natalie fluted, Jack the T threw in a slush pump medley, and the aforementioned Captain, Keef, Aaron, Tim, Peter, Nick, Ali and Louis did their reeds thing (Louis and Keef sensibly switched to clarinet), all in front of a mildly bemused audience, not all of whom had their 76th birthday, although Di couldn’t resist the temptation.
As ever, the music making moved to another level as Al Papa Jazz strode purposefully to his chair in the corner. Sadly, he didn’t stay there, and we were treated to yet another demonstration of his drumming ability, which, as avid readers would know, remains in a class of its own. Not once did Al lose the beat…
…having craftily elected not to find it in the first place.
Reeding, Writhing and Rhythmatic…
Madge from Altona had a busy day. Taking her usual bus from Altona West over the creaking Westgate and on into the seamier parts of Collywobble, where all the men are one eyed, and their womenfolk have less than three teeth, has always been an exhausting adventure; but this Sunday she found the Gold Street Tearooms and Gossipshop so full that she could not even get a seat, ( the double doors to that august establishment offering no easy passage to someone of her stature.) So, sitting outside, wreathed in the acrid fumes of a rollie, she contented herself with listening to the strains of what could pass for jazz on a dark night, wafting from the Tea Room Orchestra.
She perceived some discontent amongst the orchestral assembly, there being no fewer than 22 changes of personnel as the afternoon wore on. Finally, as the red glow of her 15th rollie arced across the street, she rose from her now severely deformed chair, and with barely a discernible indentation in the tarmac, remounted her bus with every intention of returning it to Altona West before the indigent Altona Bus Lines staff had noticed it missing. Which they hadn’t due to three of them being unable to count, and the other 14 not giving a rat’s in the first place.
So, the busiest jam in a very long time, and some damn good music: eight sax players, two pianists, two percussion, three bass players, a flute, mellodica, guitar and three singers – even the Captain admitted to being tired at the end of it all.
Props to The Captain (six bar fours anyone?) Keef, Ali, Rod, Jeff, Peter, Aaron and Roger the Dodger for some the sax battles; Rob Murray for some great piano, Louis the Fly for his usual eclectic mix of mellodica, Stan, Taariq and Kariss for playing bass with some very dodgy charts and in some cases, no chart at all, Don (guitar) and Natalie (flute and small child) , Fred and Danilo on percussion, Nicole, Julian and Lisbeth for singing, and meself for remembering at least that many names.
Which means I have forgotten Al Papa Jazz. No easy task, but he was in a class of his own again. . At least he turned up looking resplendent in his second best outfit. Somewhere in Moonee Ponds there is a beige Datsun 120Y with no seat covers.
A number of people have asked after Hortense. It would be more sensible to ask before.
PA system: Uncle Glen has a new one, and it works mighty fine except when Uncle Glen is making adjustments, which is, on a good day, only about 97% of the time… Just kidding, but it really has made a difference to the sound quality and clarity in the room. Now we can all hear who is out of tune….
Drum Stuff: Suddenly there is a whole new bunch of bashers and brushers coming along – mainly Tom, Danilo, James, and Fred (percussion) For months all we have had has been the irrepressible Al Papa Jazz, who may not come from a different era, but often comes from a different time… But I digress: we have even had drum and bass extended choruses these last few weeks. Tom and Danilo have both played sessions at the Grand Hotel. It is entirely thanks to the drummers that we no longer have to listen to the kind of rubbish that the rest of us come up with – they have thoughtfully drowned it out…
Saxophonic delights: Captain Chaos goes from strength to strength these days, generally without buying a ticket. His predilection for changed tempos and plain awkward toons led to a somewhat disjointed start to the Sunday arvo session. Things gradually improved, Frank and Mr T swapping guitar and bass duties, Sir Roger de Coverley (ageing roue from Richmond, and noted sot if you count lemonade) only prepared to play if I promised not to say anything about his close relative R Clark, which I wont of course. Anyway, the rest of us resisted the urge to play Four in 5/4 time, and a good time was had by all.
Pianissimo: We’ll include Shawn in this one, although he also mellodicated on occasion, whilst Noriyo, Bob and meself all surreptitiously turned up the volume and/or rolled our eyes at the indiscretions of the front line…
Singers: it’s not just a sowing machine: Such of the drumbashers as were present (James and Fred) then combined for a lively chorus of Nature Boy in a key that only a mother could love, and singer Kay, back from two weeks of ******** in the top end wrapped her tonsils around several numbers, to the general delight of the crowd who had by then variously fallen asleep, run out of gossip and resorted to making it up, got confused and left, or were lying prostrate amongst the instrument cases sniffing wine off the carpets… or not as the case may be.
Ain’t life Grand! Well it is on Fridays and Saturdays. Singers Kay Forever and Ann Smiff have crooned smooth sessions at the Grand Hotel recently , and last week was the turn of Miss Julie Stewart with a slightly funkier bluesier set. Upcoming sessions will feature Kay/Noriyo (Friday)and Amy Jaulin (Saturday) Quite who gets up after that is yet to be determined… but if anyone is prepared to ply Uncle Colin or Miss Kay with honeyed words and cases of fine liquor, I am sure they can be included on the list….
Such fun really – see yez at a jam session soon?