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.

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?

The Sunday Arvo Jam Session: Serenity at the Leinster, Chaos at the Castle

Strolled into the Gold Street Gossip Shop to find the lads still setting up, Captain Chaos in absentia as he had gone to the Castlemaine Jam to show them how it is done… he enjoyed it so much, he went back the next day for a Castlemaine Jazz Festival committee meeting.

Hortense, as is her wont, was either there or not. It is a poor substitute for those heady days with the Oscar Beetroot Band at the Strangled Ferret, where they really lit the place up, in a way that only the Fire Brigade, (such handsome Boys!), could put out…Altona West has never been the same, but then, as Madge remarked only the other day, it never was.

But I digress. Umm, the Jam Session. Ah yes, I remember now, bloody good fun, with cameos from Lisette, guitaristical things from Ben, Andrew and The Reverend Kevin, an afternoon of  extended saxophonical solos from Ali and Keef, in fine form, plus his customary duets with every other soloist, Anne Craig (Floot) playing like a real musician should, leavened with some tonsil work from the Debster amongst others (Cal? Natural Woman? No chart for that one?), underscored by Stan the Bass who played, heroically, from then ’til much, much later.

John Perri turned up and left his hat. Some seriously good drumming followed by unwisely offering some ill-placed guidance to young Putna Mondrum, who as one of the more sympathetic drummers hardly needed it, but generously returned the compliment. Sebastien was unequivocally the best of the French drummers, and played some fine stuff too.

Indeed, all was going well until Melinda Traves bounced in later. Then it all went very much better. Lively and enjoyable set. The Lunatic Soup Lounge was rockin’.

Which all made for a fine afternoon’s entertainment, topped off by the tap dancer in green shoes who stepped up, laid down his board and boogied. Glen and Wilhelmina were looking on from the back bar in (a) horror) then (b) amusement before (.c) grinning like idiots and commenting that now they had seen it all, Probably right, I have never before seen green shoes at the Leinster either…


Jam – What Jam?

Well, who needs a bass player anyway? Or a drummer? I cannot remember the last time a jam session stuck so resolutely to the upper register, but no matter, we had an afternoon of singers – Miss H, Miss K, Miss Amy, Miss Smiff,  I think I have missed everyone, other than Scott and Buddy…. Whatever, Miss Smiff played drums most of the afternoon, in a manner that goes a long way to explaining why the music was so good: especially when the Captain called fours and she managed the percussive equivalent of raising two fingers. More eloquent than elegant.

Speaking of elegant, Curtis was his usual self at the keys, although shaded at last perhaps, by Lissette with a fine walking bass line; and Ben’s rhythm playing on guitar complemented the whole beautifully. Not bad solos either.  Lee (trumpet) and Marion (recorder) traded licks for a while, and the rest of us mainly mucked about, and mangled what we could…

By way of diversion, Mark was showing edited highlights of his recent parachute jump between numbers. I have always though (fondly) that several of the jam sessions regulars were slightly demented, but Mark is now officially an out and out lunatic, with the video to prove it. Strewth!