Why Music?

Why not… I have been reading some articles on Neil Young recently and listening to the 1973 recording, warts and all, that has become his latest release. The irascible Young holds a theory that digital reproduction loses a lot of the sound quality of vinyl/analogue – and this damages our brains, although why Neil Young would still worry about that is a mystery to me….

Why Music? Do we need live performance any more, now that the machines can do it all? Technically, the rot set in in 1877, when Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph, initially, one would assume, as a means of making money, but later on as a means of reproducing music as it sounded in live performance. Neil’s live performance incorporates the mistakes, clams and glitches for which he is famous – as a part of his artistic expression. It grows on you.

Avid readers, all three of them, may now be wondering quite what this has to do with a Jam Session. Each week, we produce, live, some truly awful renditions of tunes which deserved better. This last week was no exception – except that the 27 musicians who fronted had a great time in general. This is currently one of the larger live, unrehearsed and impromptu musical gatherings in Melbourne, and if we are not careful, will continue to attract a uncritical audience.

Soloists: So rare are the brassisti that we have given up advertising for trumpeters – and of course two turned up – Satou from Japan and Guy (I think) from somewhere else. On top of which, the usual complement of saxes, plus Jeff on clarinet and soprano sax. And Sir Roger De Coverley, buckler of swashes and Bounder about Town, who mercifully left his horse, if he had one, outside.

Guy, Satou and Laurie: don’t look so serious chaps!

Singers were a bit thin on the ground- Kay with her usual collection of Bossa modified standards, Yuko singing up a storm, teenage gardener Miss Annabelle Smythe, reeking of Lobelia roots, but otherwise in fine voice. And Kevin the cap, for good measure.

Kevin the Cap

Drummers included Mike Findlay, Alan Richards, Steve Bray, Russell, and on a flying visit from Tasmania’s Big Ho, Nigel Legge (washboard ace, but this time on drums)

Guitarists: Octo as good as ever, newcomer Roy held his own, and Harry from Queensland got up eventually and could play more than a bit. All sweet.

Bass: Dave NN has taken to misbehaving, by playing rather well when you least expect it, and was the pick of them for once.. Another fine innings from Piers, Anton from Glasshouse days, and Roy’s offsider who was (a) better looking than Roy and (b) rather good.

Piano: Early contribution from Mr Curtis, played beautifully for Yuko, Malcolm and one other (name?) at the end.

All of which made for a middling musical medley, a goodly audience, and notably quite a few family groups amongst them. The Arvo was wrapped up with a fine (hah!) rendition of Minnie the Moocher, which proved an inspired choice.

The next generation looks on…

The Next Jam

Yes, you guessed it,The Post Hotel, corner of St Kilda Road and Inkerman, next Sunday 25th August, 4.00pm start.

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

Jam Session, cheap booze and Broken Promises

Last Sunday’s Jam was the third biggest turn out of musos we have ever had. Props to Rod and Bette back on a brief trip from some sweaty dive north of Borneo) for dragging so many through the door, and sorry you had to shout all afternoon to maintain the constant banter to which you are accustomed.

So, about those loud saxaphones and rattly ol’ drummers. No point in telling either to turn it down, as they are all industrially deaf. Can’t imagine why… Continue reading →

From Somewhere inside the Leinster Arms

I was out there hiking in the less visited wilderness that is the North of Wilson’s Prom over the Easter long weekend. I don t have to do that again and when the trauma of pushing through 60 km of virgin scrub with 25 kgs strapped to my torso has receded like the tide, then I will be fit and semi sane enough to take on the Grampians during the ANZAC day long weekend.

Meanwhile, the sheltered workshop for the tone deaf, rhythmic dyslexics and do it yourself musical lobotomy patients resumed after the Easter break.

The Jam session started slowly Continue reading →

The Laika Bar CCQ Sessions

The Captain Chaos Quartet has failed to send this rather spiffin’ little cocktail bar broke, but it is early days… Actually, there have been some rather good little sessions going on whilst you have been sleeping off the Turkey – swinging little sets from Kay Young, Anne Hayres, and the Divine Miss Smiff, who ruined a perfectly good track record by turning up on time, at the right address and in possession of all her charts and most of her faculties for an outrageously good night.

But I digress: this week, Kay Young will be attempting to maintain some sort of order, despite the best efforts of meself, Doug “Haircut” Kuhn, and the eponymous Captain. Kay is off to Darwin fairly soon, so you might like to turn up, to encourage her to come back, or to make sure she doesn’t. Please yourself, as Hortense is wont to say on a quiet night..

Kay Young and the CCQ, Friday 17th January, 7.30 – 10.00 at the Laika Bar, 6 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

Oh, the Haggis, the Haggis. (1)..

Hamish McScrooge (2) has only recently taken up residence in Altona West.  Hamish now runs a haggis shop that simmers beneath the glowering towers of the Altona West refineries, not a stone’s throw from Refinery Terrace. Hamish knows this is not a stone’s thow, as the basaltic shrapnel with which Marge habitually farewells departing merchant seamen occasionally falls short and lands in his haggis pot instead.. That such detritus makes little difference to the culinary qualities of his haggis speaks volumes for the limited dollop of gristle, a pinch of bones and  a light dusting of old barley that constitutes his version of  this Scottish delicacy.  And when I say speaks volumes, it is just as well, for others have been rendered speechless by its mercifully unique flavour. Which brings me, neatly you will agree, to the Sunday Arvo Jam session. 

The key ingredients of a jam session have traditionally been limited competence, with a pinch  of enthusiasm, and a light dusting of musicianship to hold it all together. Sort of.  At last Sunday’s egregious (3) jam each and every combination turned out some great music, and there were, truly, no duds amongst them. So props to Adam on bass, Chelly, Kay and Deb singing, Keef, Lee and another trumpeter whose name I do not remember, Ben on guitar, Bob at the piano, Louis the fly, Tom, Jack and all the others too humorous to mention. And to Captain Chaos for another afternoon of misplaced musical direction, which nearly half of the participants had the good sense to ignore., whilst the rest  were just confused. No matter, it all turned out fine…. 

Would that Hamish McScrooge’s haggis was as good.
TW

 

What’s On at the Grand?

Last Friday, Carol Whitfield’s considerable army of friends turned out to hear her sing, and a fine night was had by all. Brian (bass) survived his Grand Hotel debut, Tom on bass and Keef on sax – with a sit-in from Ray “Lounge” Hood to boot. A busy night. Saturday and the Curtis Crew provided (I am told) some fine backing for the ever smooth Miss Kay. The evening may have ended with the entire band tap dancing on the piano lid (4)..  

This Friday is European Jazz night, with Vincenzo and Danilo leading the Mafia Band, and Koln’s finest export, singer Juliane Pasternak will be trying to keep everything in order. Should be a great night. 

On Saturday, Ashley (Wangaratta’s finest export) will be singing, with Kay Young on backing vocals, Simon Atkinson (drums) Bruce Packard (bass) and meself on the piano (or under it if they try the tap dancing stunt again).    

Obscure References:
(1)  A misquote from Apocalypse Now, itself a misquote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which was probably lifted from Shakespeare’s King Lear anyway.

(2)  Hamish McScrooge: Hamish, you may recall, is the founder of the West Lothian Blues Society, which only held one meeting where they all got roaring drunk, due to a misspelling on the invite.

(3)  Egregious: look it up. I do not mean to imply that the Jammers are a flock of sheep., although you do wonder sometimes…

(4)  This might not be true..
TW

What’s On at The Grand

Assuming it didn’t burn down as part of last week’s Grand Final celebrations… (I haven’t checked)

This Friday 4th October sees Carol Whitfield’s second session – with meself (piano), Brian West (Bass), Tom Doublier on drums, and Keef on reeds. Carol tells me she has been polishing up her starts and ends. Well the starts were pretty good last time, and the polished ends will make for interesting viewing…

Saturday 5th October. The Curtis Orchestra returns to accompany Kay Young (welcome back!) in a night of smoothness, extended riffs, and occasional dutchness from Professor Van Hooft (bass). Gentleman John is to be held entirely responsible….

The Grand Hotel goes off two nights running…

Last week: two great nights, with Juliane singing a scorching set on Friday, in front of a good crowd. Kip Dale on bass and Danilo on drums provided a great rhythm section. Kay topped off the night with a scat duo with Juliane. Triffic.  Saturday saw the GH packed and heaving for Risa’s first session – and audience of around 70, and a great response to a highly polished performance. She is back on the 29th September (Grand Final night). Be there.

 

This week is SMIFF SMIFF WEEK Gentleman John Curtis is back in the saddle on Friday 24th August, for the first time since his week off.: the break has clearly affected his brain, as he has taken to replying to e-mails in French. Taariq has battled all sorts of changes in line-ups to come up with a Saturday band. The Divine Miss Smiff will be singing both Friday and Saturday, before possibly fronting the Sunday session to do her Kermit the Frog impression.

Gossip From Around the Traps:

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?
TW

Kay Young & MJQ at the Grand Hotel

On Saturday nights 6 to 9pm, at the Grand Hotel, the MJQ, Melbourne Jazz Quartet, will feature with Kay Young.
The Grand Hotel is a restaurant and bar and features a baby grand piano, happy hour and a car park. It is situated right at Southern Cross railway station.
http://www.grandhotelmelbourne.com.au