What to Sing at a Jam Session?

We have had a request for some suggestions for new jazz songs to learn. Here are the 6 Golden Rules although no-one knows why…

Rule No 1; You can start with Summertime, Autumn Leaves, Route 66′, Georgia and other standards, because almost everyone else does, but if you want to sing them again and again, you had better come up with a new take on the tune. One Note Samba as a swing tune, Autumn leaves in French or 5/4 time or both, Georgia in 12/8, Route 66 with three or four singers, Caravan ditto. We have done all of these in the past, by the way.

And probably won’t be doing them again unless you ask nicely.

Rule No 2: Work out what the song is about. Find out who wrote it, and why. Listen to different versions. Try and relate it to your own experience. Cry Me A River is all about a bastard, so sing it with venom, Girl From Ipanema is about poignancy, with a sad back story for its creators.

Rule No 3: Mix it up – some fast some slow, blues, latin and slow ballads. An all blues set or an all funk set can be crashingly dull, an all swing tunes set gets tedious, and an all Bebop set often doesn’t work as well with vocals, and in any case needs to be played with conviction by heroin afflicted black musos with anger management issues to be at their best.

Rule No 4: Emotion: Charlotte Nicdao once reduced an audience to tears by singing Moon River, Sevil Sabah has done the same with Billy Preston’s You Are So Beautiful. Annie Smith regularly reduces an audience to tears as well, but these are generally tears of laughter.

Rule No 5: Singing is a specialised and demanding area of musicianship. Practice as hard as the musicians behind you. Get some formal training and feedback on your technique.

Rule No 6: Ignore Rules No 1 to 5 completely and do what pleases you most – we, the audience, will enjoy it all the more!


Sunday at the Junk: Gossip, Jazz,

The Jam Session: We foregathered so early that the Junk wasn’t even open, convened a meeting on a nearby park bench… kicked around a few ideas for a proposed jazz party that will hopefully come to fruition some time in the New Year. Not saying which New Year as we haven’t got that far.

The set up was much aided by Debbie, directed by the Captain, a few cables plugged in by meself,  Fermin set up the guitars and amps, and Russell re-assembled the drum kit, although he subsequently averred it wasn’t up to (his) standards.

A pleasant and diverse afternoon of ballad mangling ensued, with contributions from Salah then Bill Swannie on drums, a welcome return from PT Pete on bass after his Uni exams, songs from Jane, Debbie amongst others, Neil and Fermin on guitars, the Captain opened the batting for the saxophone brigade, followed by the immaculate tones of Cardinal Calamatta, and we may have persuaded Julian (floot and abacus) to join the putative Committee. Hopefully he won’t be too busy to play floot. Huich on violin. Volker back on sax.

Singer du jour was Michelle Gigliotti, in a tight set, accompanied by Kip Dale on electric bass, Bill on drums, and meself tickling the ivories. She sang a second set with Malcolm struggling with some of my dodgiest charts – my excuse is that I never used charts on any gig with Michelle anyway… and we knocked out 80 or so in years past.

Pony Tail Pete back on bass

Rod and Bette de Singapore dropped in, as you do, POCKOTL was there, and there were a pleasing number of locals in the audience. More musos than last week, and more fun too…

Featured Singers this Sunday 25th November

This next one is going to be a bit special, as Debbie and Ashley de Wang will be singing some duets – swing tunes in the main. I have heard some of their material and this should prove a real crowd pleaser

Next jam, this Sunday 25th November, 4.00pm start,

TheJunktion Hotel, 99 High Street, South Kew – the Hotel is on thecorner of Kew Junction. Public parking is available on Studley ParkRoad, or behind the Mercedes dealer/behind the High Street Shops offFenton Street from High St, Kew.

Sevil Sabah & The Webb St. Band

Sevil returns to Castlemaine. She has been one of the outstanding singers of the previous Festivals, and this year brings a new band, covering the songs of Bill Withers, Erika Baydu Jill Scott and others, maybe a couple of Jazz standards.

Soul and Jazz – a great combination.

Sevil Sabah Vocals
Joel Lukes Bass
Tom Doublier Drums
Billy Mathieson Keys


The Royal Standard Friday sessions start next week

Rang Frank to see if he had changed his mind, but possibly due to memory lapse or something, he still wants us back. We are going to start on January 27th with Sevil Sabah, and then Joys Njambi, followed by Katerina Myskova. I put the late Miss Smith on the poster in the hope that she might ring me up and demand a date…




The Laika Bar Friday Night Sessions

rom 8.00pm every Friday at The Laika Bar, 9 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda,

Great line up this month – Katerina kicked it off last week with a speed freak session of up-tempo ballads.

This week Sevil Sabah will be fronting her Inverloch band (Calamatta, Eiji,Twang Stewart and meself). We will have Matt Berg on drums.


22nd January: Shimona does her first Laika session. This lady can really sing!

Camera 360

Camera 360

29th January: Jen Salisbury, with guitarist Keaton, Doug The Pres Kuhn , meself and an as yet unnamed drummer, with a guest spot by Burlesque Dancer Sahara Inferno. … of which more next week


The Sevil Sabah Quartet, Nieuw Amsterdam, Thursday 3rd December, from 8.00pm

All five members of the Sevil Sabah Quartet are going to play in the downstairs Bar at classy restaurant Nieuw Amsterdam, with a coupla hot sets from 8 – 10pm or later.

There are already over 20 people booked for this one, but a few Jammers should fill the joint. Nieuw Amsterdam has toyed with the idea of being a music venue since selling out as a Melbourne International Jazz Festival venue this year – drop on by and encourage them to make it a regular event!

Sevil Sabah Quartet does the City, Nieuw Amsterdam, Hardware Street (it is North of Hardware lane) Thursday 3rd December, Tuesday 1st December from 8.00pm.


The Laika Bar:

And… Risa now holds the record for most dosh – they must have been drinking expensive cocktails last week…great set.

This week, the Sevil Sabah Quartet, and quite possibly, special guest Al Herman (trombone) from the US of A. Not sure how he will fit on the podium, but I make it a rule never to argue with a man holding 8’6″ of brass tubing, and anyone who has played with both Bill Clinton and Dave Grusin is in need of a change.

We will commence making fools of ourselves at 8.00pm, descend into vaudevillean light farce at 8.07, go hard early and then hang on.

Summer. Jazz. Cocktails. What’s not to like?.

Sevil Sabah, Doug Kuhn, Chelsea Allen, Ben the Banker and meself, from 8.00pm Friday 6th November at The Laika Bar, 9 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda,


Sevil Sabah at Wangaratta

The Laika Bar: Sevil Sabah Quartet, the beachfront end

Sevil DSC03743 fx

Sevil will be polishing up her setlist, with a few new toons, and some regular rusty and crusty favourites at the Laika. Supported by Ben Stewart (guitar), Doug Kuhn (bass), meself on piano, and Chelsea Allen on drums.

Quite what the regulars make of all this is a mystery to me, but drop in if you are in the neighbourhood – we start at 8.00 by which time the day – shift for burgs and car theft have knocked off for tea; and we finish around 10.30, just before the other half of Fitzroy Street turns to recreational chemicals and rock and roll. It’s a funny old street, but the beachfront end has a style all its own. I am told…

Sevil Sabah Quartet, from 8.00pm Friday 9th October at The Laika Bar, 9 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda,

The Laika Bar Diaries: Sevil Sabah Quartet Friday Night

The Laika Bar: Sevil Sabah Quartet, 


Sevil will be singing a new selection of blues/soul/pop/ballad tinged numbahs, some of which we have even rehearsed. There’s posh for you. Meself, Doug “got a haircut” Kuhn and Ben Stewart (guitar) in attendance.

with a sit in drummer..

Well, we couldn’t really ask Geoff to come all the way from Bendigo, so Chelsea Allen will be squeezing into the bar for a bit of light drumming. I’ve heard of her.

Should be a busy night – drop in and strangle a cocktail!

Sevil Sabah Quartet, from 8.00pm Friday 25th September at The Laika Bar, 9 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda,

The Laika Bar

The Laika Bar: Sevil Sabah returns!


And she is getting ready to shake the rust off, after two months away in France and attending to her bro’s wedding..

Sevil Sabah with Doug Haircut Kuhn (bass), Ben Twang Stewart (guitar) and meself propped up on the piano; from 8.00pm Friday 14th August at The Laika Bar, 9 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda,

Assuming she doesn’t blow out her voice on Friday, she will also be singing at Dizzy’s on Saturday night with the impeccable Rory Clark on piano.