Getting Your Wordsworth on…

I wandered, lonely as a cloud (if clouds can actually feel lonely, which I would doubt), into the darkened inner recesses of the ancient and mouldering pile otherwise known as the Gold Street Gossip Shop and Bicycle Repair Emporium, and spotted, not a crowd or host of golden daffodils as such, but a coupla dills hanging about getting ready to mash up a few standards. As you do on a Sunday arvo when you have plenty better to do, but not much inclination to do it…

There followed a remarkably pleasant afternoon with nineteen musos swapping licks, hardly a trainwreck in sight, and a few highlights to be mentioned…

Newcomer Luis played some damn good soprano saxophone, which is the first time in living memory that anyone has made that instrument sound good (it normally makes the bagpipes sound good instead). Hope he will be back. Buen trabajo!

Ponytail Pete played even better than he did on Friday night (report below). Chico and Fermin swapped guitar stints.

Colonel T forgot to hammer any numbers into the ground, and in between whiles kept us amused (“there is a 1 in 88 chance of that piano player hitting the right note…”)

Kay the pick of the piano players, although the Fraser was just as good. Peter, Richard and meself made up the numbers. And the percussion crowd (Michael, Bill and Matt) generally hit things to good effect, before newcomer Andre got up and gave a bit of a drum class of his own.

Keef played some nice stuff – even forgot to play over the singers (Kev, Brian and the irrepressible Debster) for a while.

Eventually, we ran out of time to fit everyone in for a second bite at the cherry … over all of which Captain Sensible presided with his usual equanimity.

You are cordially invited to take part in the next friendly debacle … at The Leinster Arms, Gold Street Collingwood, Sunday 12th March 2017, at 4.00pm.

Jam Session: A reflection on the state of play

A surprisingly louche little jam session this one. I say surprisingly because I have no idea what louche means.

It was good to catch up with Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse, back from the mountains of Spain, and to listen to the delicate strains of the Lunatic Soup Lounge Pit Orchestra and Choral Ensemble as they wafted their way through a variety of mid twentieth century disasters, rendered barely unrecognisable by the occasional foray into the sequence of notes that their composers had intended.

Captain Chaos marshalled the troops, sent them up several wrong turns and came out smiling. Grant (saxaphobe) rather wiped the floor. The Divine Miss Smith was in fine form (Grade 4, where she spent the best three years of her life). A succession of rock drummers, Il Duce, Bruce and Spike took turns in subverting the paradigm, Chrissy Manetta sang, the Keef was there, Sam Izzo, Gentleman John Curtis and Don played piano, Ben Stewart guitared I think, Doug Haircut Kuhn carried the bass a la stick for much of the arvo, and a whole bunch of others joined in from time to time.

All in front of an audience that was the most part, sensibly sticking to the chips, and alternately lightly bemused and lightly medicated.

See ya next week?
TW

While We were Away…

I thought the experiment with the invisible ink went rather well last week. For those of you who missed it, this was Ben the Banker’s report on the previous Jam Session.

Here’s some bullet points from jazz jam on Sunday. Headline: A good jam resulted after a very slow start.
I arrived at 4:15 and no one was there. Glen had already set everything up and had to head down to Hastings to visit his in laws.
4:30 Katerina, a singer from Czech, arrived with her partner.
4:45 Taariq arrived with his amp.
5:00 A piano player arrived. Name??? never seen him before.

Played a good set of music with that line up for 45 minutes. Lots of space, almost civilised (perhaps because there were no horn players or drummers ). I even considered asking Taariq to turn up during this bracket because the bass was so quiet. Katerina’s singing was fantastic.
Japanese girl arrived with trumpet and did a good job of playing some standards.
Deb and Bob arrived and played some tunes.
Melinda arrived and announces “are you running that jam Ben??? in disbelief (no respect). wow you’ve come so far (mocking). Thanks for the support Mel!!
Mel then played drums, in time, for 6 or so songs.
Good Sax player arrived. Name????
Mel sang some songs, Sebastian arrived and we all turned up.
Then a guy arrives with some congas…..it was well and truly a jam by this stage.

Not sure what happened from here on, perhaps Deb or Bob know……was still going at 8:00 when I had to leave!!!!!!!

Clearly the lad has grasped the essentials of reportage, as typified by the Melbourne Jazz Jammers Newsletter

(a) Insult everyone equally
(b) Never let the facts intrude upon your story
(c) Be inconsistent, possibly untruthful, but above all, vague

Now, where was I . . . ah yes, the Lunatic Soup Lounge Jam De Jour, Sunday March 5th (ed: ?? perhaps April) edition. It all went off without a hitch, which is a good thing, as last time we had a hitch no-one knew what to do with it. Ably led by the Captain, and with Doug ”Haircut” Kuhn laying down a solid bass all arvo,we could hardly go wrong… hardly.

Highlights included Keef the Teef back from the dentist and playing the floot… rather well; Bob Vinard on keys, the Hirsh on drums, followed by M. Sebastian, a welcome return from Borthwick the Bass, Harry on bongoes, and a late cameo from the Divine Miss Smith, accompanied by Richard (keys) plus a whole bunch of others, all of whom were young, glamorous, talented and modest, and shall, therefore, remain anonymous.

Stick to the Black keys, they are on special . . .
TW

Sunday Arvo: Kylie Minogue a no-show

Ho, hum, and rattle. A strange Jam session this one – a good rhythm section ably driven by Doug ”Haircut” Kuhn, a coupla good singers: The Debster, Anne Hayres, Eithne (see below) and The Divine Miss Smith, looking as Smith as ever, but quite divine as well for the time of day; POCKOTL in the house, and Noel, the Captain, Peter Cole and Keef on saxes, Colonel T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse on guitar, Chico in fine form, as inscrutable as ever, Lisette amazing on keys, Bruce and Christine doing their thing later in the day…

And yet, it never really hit the heights. Avid readers of this august journal will have discerned by now that the drummers have not been mentioned. They were, in the main, a noisy lot for much of the afternoon, so whether any jazz got played is highly debatable. We could all see fingers twitching on the rattly saxy bits, strings plinking away on the basso profundo de stick and geetars, lights glowing on the piano, andtonsils quivering; but quite what was being played, other than drums, remains in large part a mystery. Volume is a poor substitute for musicianship, but you have to run with what you’ve got.

Fun, nevertheless.

See ya this week?

25 Jammers New and Old

The last Session of the Year was the longest I can remember, with over 25 Jammers new and old wandering in throughout the day and rocking the joint for a mere eight hours.

Glen (Il Duce to those in the know) went all out with a great set-up (he even put in foldbacks fergawdsake), opened up the Atrium and the Beer Garden to the street, and got blessed with a really fine day (the Gods must be tone deaf)   After a fine light luncheon (nobody died) around 25 musicians swapped and chopped all day long, ably mustered by Captain Chaos hisself, who did, it must be said, look a little stuffed by the end.

The singers – Anne Smith, Anne Hayres, Sonia Davoine, Melinda Traves and Sevil Sabah , Marita and Lehma, amongst others, really turned it on. Doug Haircut Kuhn drove that stick bass all day long, Matthias, The Hirsh,  Sebastien, and others rattled the skins, The Captain, Jason, Keef, Peter, Dennis, Kepler, Marion, and I can’t remember who else soloed, Ben and Ray Hood (the original Lounge Lizard) on guitars, Blonde Bob, Gentleman John Curtis and meself, amongst others, tickled the plastics, and there too was the invisible trombonist, Jack Morris.

A great end to a fine year of Jam Sessions – there were four people there who, to the best of my knowledge, have been going to the Jams for over 23 years. And still can’t get it right. Makes you wonder..

We will be back on 18th January.

Hortense and Madge from Altona send their regards.

Toodle Pip!

The Sunday Arvo Jam Session: Getting to first Bass

Spiffin’ little jam session, The Captain on the poop deck, and several familiar hands swingin, from the yard arms – Ben, Keef, Rear Admirable Curtis, and others.. Celeste and her sister leading the massed choir of tonsil artistes, Sam Izzo, Elliott and Ruiz turned up, Ali did his saxophone thing, Bob and meself having the occasional foray on keys, Uncle Kevin and Ann the floot turning up later, as they are won’t to do, Danilo, Dean, James and Sebastian on drums.

And then there was Sebastian mark 2, blues piano player – hope he comes again, sang and played a great little set: and a neat little stint from John Martin, purveyor of fine Wertheims to the landed gentry, on drums.

Marg (Princess of Cool, Keeper of the List) turned up and turned 193, or 47 or something in between.

David Ruiz complained bitterly that he had not had a mention in the previous newsletter. We all know what that means…

This week, he was at his finest on trumpet. We have never heard him play better, and I can honestly say he didn’t play a bum note all afternoon. We asked several members of the audience if they had ever heard a trumpet played quite like David does before – they all said no, although one subsequently suggested a label on the trumpet marked “trumpet” could help clear up a deal of uncertainty.

Or not, as the case may be…. actually he sang rather well, having left the trumpet at home.
Trumpet imagesCAZADD2S

Getting to first Bass? We didn’t. Not one of the lugubrious society of Basso Profundi, all afternoon. Society is to blame.

TW

Sunday at the Leinster Arms

The jam started by exploring the John Curtis chart book. Early attendees, Julian (flugal), Brian (guitar) and your correspondent (tenor) were handling John’s numbers reasonably well until we hit “Dear Old Stockholm”…. a Swedish folk song which became a Miles Davis classic. We gave up after three (chaotic) attempts as what we were doing sounded neither like a jazz piece nor a folk song.

Keith arrived earlier than usual and was slightly disappointed that the other tenor player had not joined Ted and Rublinda (or is it Melruby) at the Castlemaine jam. To wit, he brought out not one but two clarinets. One was a lot bigger than the other. Sounded a lot deeper too.

By then the troops started arriving. Ben (guitar) Taariq (bass) Robert (bass) Will (vocals) Bobby V (keys) Debbie & Chelly (vocals), Jasim (guitar), Will (vocals) and Trent (alto). The drums were handled by Danilo, Glen and Jacomo. Trevor played some nice cameos on harp. Tess Murphy joined us later in the afternoon to add to her triumph at the Grand Hotel last Friday. When Mr T had to leave at 6.45 to get his “Dr Who” fix, an early night was looming as most of the above had already left apart from Keith, Trent, Jasim, Danilo John and Tess. However, the late arrival of Anne (vocals) and Richard (keys) revitalised the concert and there was another hour of some very tasteful jazz.

Must add that I thought I saw Hortense in the crowd…..surprising really as it was rumoured that she would be in Castlemaine. Could it be that she has a twin?

Not your usual correspondent.

CC

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

Gold Street Gossip

The Captain blows up a storm

The Pete turns 50

How to get a gig – easy innit! 

The Captain  Blows up a Storm:

It has become somewhat of a habit, picking up Bob and driving to the Leinster of a Sunday afternoon, parking round the corner, ambling into the Gold Street Gossip Shop, and never knowing what, or who, to expect… 

The Captain, warming up and ready to spread his own benevolent form of chaos, Tim practicing in the back room (or as Il Duce would have it, exciting Seminar facility), Jack nowhere to be seen as usual, and a positive bevy of tonsil artistes ready to do their thing. First things first, a cold beer and a bit of idle banter, Gentleman John Curtis tickling the ivories, not one of which even giggled, and Paul on the drums positively caressing the skins whilst, as is his curious habit, staring at the wall.

Glen (Il Duce to those in the know) wasn’t there, and neither were the constabulary, his solicitor, his accountant, or any investigative reporters. Coincidence, probably?

The Pete turns 50

Pete wasn’t there either . He turned 50 on Saturday, which is often a silly thing to do, so much so that few people do it more than once. Given he still looked well under 65, well, slightly well under 65, or about 65, in the morning, he obviously decided to go to the East Altona Darts and Face Painting Championships instead. And when I say I obviously, I must stress  that I wasn’t there, so it could all be true.

Easy Innit?

In time, Nick, Trent, Keef, Yass, and Taariq would join newcomer Andrew (bass) who fitted in so well that the Captain asked him to play at the Grand this Friday. Good Grief, is it that easy?

Singers Jo, Anne H, Chelly, the incomparable Debbie and I forget who else, would get up for a warble, getting up being entirely preferable to being draped inelegantly over the piano. The stand probably wouldn’t take it anyway..

In all, a quieter session for a change, with everyone getting plenty of time to mangle, modify and murder their selected toons. The standard of the music remains alarmingly good, but be assured on the basis of experience, that this is a temporary aberration. The guilty will get their come-uppance in due course. The rest of us will get some chips and another beer, probably..

Stick to the black notes – they’re cheaper
TW

Next time, bring a chainsaw, ear plugs and a hard hat…

    I have noticed that it is getting harder and harder to move around  the Lizard Lounge of a Sunday afternoon. Either the place is shrinking or the jam sessions are growing ever more packed. Withthat many people playing, some industrial strength jazz ensued. Top stuff, but  I am sure normal service will be resumed shortly.   In  the meantime we may be regaled with the sight of seven or eight  soloists eagerly putting the boot, chainsaw or elbow in, as they struggle to the fore. Mercy, Mercy Mercy!

    Which,. come to think of it, was a highlight of last Sunday’s effort, probably the busiest, certainly the noisiest, yet. Other moments of memorable chaos included Bill on Flugelhorn, Chelly essaying jazz singing to great effect, Jeremy bopping through the    door wearing a foppishly large cloth cap, and carrying his foppishlylarge double bass. Carol, Lisbeth, Mel and Sandro sang, Stan, Taariq, Avi and the aforementioned Frenchman played bass. After a  welcome back session from Danilo, Glen played an outstanding set on drums – if he gets too cocky about it, we will remind him of his    first jazz effort on the electronic drum set, which he will    undoubtedly deny. Bob and then Rod took over on keys, leaving me    little to do but sip on a Guinness and wonder where it was all going    to end. Eventually I started wondering when it was going to endinstead, and went home, as you do…

    I won’t mention the Captain and his big brass/woodwind section  (Keef, Tim, Alex, Ali, Bill, Aaron and Nick), and for the first timein living memory, I don’t recall any fours being called.

    Society’s to blame…

TW

Reeding, Writhing and Rhythmatic…

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.
TW

Now, where was I?

Jam Sessions:

Jam sessions, that was it. Well, we have missed writing up the last three or four sessions, including the 6 hour -make – sure – she – comes – back Noriyo bash, so props to Captain Chaos, Keef the clarinet, Peter, Ari, some other dude whose name I forget (saxophones), Don, Frank, Ray “Lounge” Hood and some other guitarist, Taariq (loser of the password variety), Avi and possibly Luke on bass, Tom, Danilo, Fred, Al “papa” Jazz, and Glen the occasional (all background noises), Jack the T, Annie H, Miss Smiff, Jo, Melinda, Kay, Ebony, (tonsil artistes) Bob, Noriyo, Curtis the John, meself (all sensible pianists, mostly) and anyone else who turned up, tuned in, dropped a beat every now and then for the sake of consistency, and generally obliterated any sense of musicality that those tired old jazz standards once possessed.

 

Having fulfilled my promise (with mildly sincere apologies to all those I have left out), to name 26 musos in one sentence, I  will leave the rest of this brief missive to news of Miss Hortense and Madge from Altona.

 

The News from Altona West:

Autumn creeps imperceptibly into  the West Altona Municipal Park and bottle drop. Certainly, the trees turn a bright orange colour, but that is mainly due to the smoke and flame belching from the oil works at the business end of Refinery Terrace. Hortense, who has been feeling a little low of late, has taken to pondering the lack of inebriated and generous gentlemen who are slow runners. When the wind is in the west, Hortense can still hear the callow screech of Rotten Ronnie Junior’s 2nd sax, emanating through the cracked window of the Altona West Country Women’s Association Hall; where Madame Trixie La Belle persists with her Academie de Danse, despite having no student under the age of 73, and not many over it either. Miss H tried Trixie’s tap session once, on Madge’s exhortation one particularly drunken night at the Strangled Ferret, but gave it up, saying there was too much bump and not enough grind.  Poor Hortense has never gotten over Rotten Ronnie, although she would still like to, every now and again.

One does wonder if it would have all turned out differently, but for the outcome of the Nineteenth Century Balkan Conflicts, and the disappearance of the Vicar’s bicycle. Along with the Vicar’s wife and that snake hipped smooth tongued slicked back Italian bicycle salesman whose name I forget. It could all be a coincidence, like 2% of all scientists not believing in man-made climate change, and 2% of the population being certifiably barking mad.

And what, you may ask, of Madge? Well don’t – it does not bear thinking about, although you may have noticed the sun setting sooner these days. Madge is deeply concerned about Climate change: she has noticed that the sea level in Port Phillip Bay rises sharply every time she goes down there for a swim. Madge has her eye on those three bulk carriers anchored off the Altona West beach: Madge is not averse to a bit of bulk, and three ships full of deeply traumatised sailors is right up her… alley.

Don’t Turn Up Next Sunday!

At last, an exhortation that someone might take to heart. We are all off for Easter, so the will be no Session at the Leinster next week. The standard of music will remain the same. So toodlepip and see you at the Leinster on Sunday 15th.

Cheers
T