Monthly Archives: October 2011

Barry Wratten at the Surrey Music Cafe

WHERE’S the Surrey Music Cafe you may ask?
Well it used to be in Surrey Hills in a cafe, but it has now moved to the Box Hill Community  Arts Centre, 470 Station Street, corner  of Combarton Street, Box Hill to accommodate a larger audience.
Barry Wratten will be playing there on Friday 25 November at 8.00pm and with a stellar band:

Barry on clarinet & vocals
Ian Orr, trumpet
Chris Ludowyk, trombone
John Adams, piano
Andy Ross, bass
Lynn Wallis, drums

Barry Wratten at the Surrey Cafe

Wine and cheese. Coffee & cake for sale from 7.30pm

Music from 8.00.  Tickets $18 at the door ($16 if pre-booked)   Telephone 9262 6555 or on line at

Even if Friday Night Jazz at Caulfield had still been a calendar event, this would have been a highly tempting option. Now that the lights have gone out (metaphorically) at Caulfield, this opportunity to hear some high class jazz is way too good to miss. No dancing – save it for Saturday at Clayton RSL!

The Surrey Music Cafe has a monthly music programme on the last Friday of the month. The 2012 programme will start in April. Check their website www.surreymusic.comfor details.

The Date Brothers visit Melbourne

Ian Date

Ian Date

GYPSY jazz giant, Ian Date is making one of his welcome home visits from Ireland in November and early December, and with brother Nigel will present an array of performances.
We are lucky that two of these will be in Melbourne:

SATURDAY 12 NOVEMBER at Czech House, 497 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne.
This concert begins at 8.30pm. Tickets $26/$24.
Or by phone to 0425 835 705 or 0403 947 836.
For this performance, the Date Brothers will join forces with legendary violinist Daniel Weltlinger and master bassist Howard Cairns to create a world class Hot Club quartet in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
Here’s a sample of the quality of music you’ll hear, this time with George Washingmachine on violin rather than Daniel Weltlinger.    Ian Date, Howard Cairns, Nigel Date and George Washingmachine at OZManouche 07 play I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight.

For a taste of Daniel Weltlinger’s magic, here’s a clip of him playing in Israel in 2009 with Lulu Swing (Lulo Reinhardt) with Swing de Gitanes.

Czech House

You may not have discovered Czech House as a venue before. It is a rare find even in multicultural Melbourne, hosting a variety of live music performances ranging from folk to jazz, gypsy to blues.
The venue has a bar, and for a pre-concert dinner there are a number of agreeable eating houses in the area.


TUESDAY NOVEMBER 15 at 9.00 pm
At The Paris Cat Jazz Club, 6 Goldie Place, Melbourne.
Bookings recommended $20/$15

Hetty Kate

Hetty Kate

The Quartet will be joined by the sensational jazz vocalist, Hetty Kate.

NOTE:  Hetty will also be singing on Saturaday 12 November at the Victorian Jazz Club 163 Carinish Road, Clayton. Telephone: 98553 3850 for bookings.

The Paris Cat has established a reputation as one of Melbourne’s premier contemporary jazz clubs and performing arts venues. It has launched the careers of many up and coming Australian  artists and hosted an array of outstanding international jazz concerts over the past 5 years.

Click here for a list of all the Date Brothers’ Australian gigs

AND FOR A Bit of biog if you don’t already know:
Ian was born in Northern New South Wales where he started playing professionally at 14. He moved to Sydney and carved out a very successful jazz career, playing with all the well-known names: Bob Barnard, George Golla, Tom Baker, Don Heaps, George Washingmachine, Janet Seidel etc. He has played all over the world, has made numerous television, radio, festival and concert performances, and is regarded as one of Australia’s great guitar players. He first started playing gypsy jazz as a teenager and ran several Hot Club style bands in Australia. He lived for a year in Holland where he met and played with some of the great gypsy jazz musicians. Since 2002 he has lived in County Cork, Ireland where he performs regularly, and makes frequent tours of Europe.

Nigel Date

Nigel Date

Nigel has worked as a guitar player for over 20 years. He has performed at major jazz festivals world wide including The Cork International Jazz Festival in Ireland, The Bay of Islands Jazz Festival in New Zealand, The Gypsy Guitar Festival in New Caledonia, Sydney Darling Harbour Jazz Festival and Wangaratta Jazz Festival, as well as numerous radio and TV appearances and 1000s of gigs around Australia with some of the country’s finest jazz musicians.

Celebration of Australian Traditional Jazz

Diana Allen

Diana Allen

IN August this year, jazz impresario Diana Allen spent a week on one of the most beautiful islands in the world, the World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island.  Diana reported: The island itself is a superb and unique experience, but added to this was the pure joy of having IAN SMITH’S INTERNATIONAL ALLSTARS entertaining us every evening…which reulted in a seriously world class experience.

Diana now wants to share a little of this indulgence by presenting IAN SMITH’S INTERNATIONAL ALLSTARS at one of her deservedly famous jazz lunches on Sunday November 13th at the Bentleigh Club, Yawla Street, Bentleigh. Midday for 12.30pm.

When you see the lineup for this band, you will understand why Diana believes that it is one of the best traditional jazz bands in Australia, ideally suited to perform a program of Australian jazz classics.

Ian Smith

Ian Smith, trumpet

Chris Ludowyk

Chris Ludowyk, trombone

Jason Downes

Jason Downes, reeds

Leigh Barker

Leigh Barker, bass

John Adams

John Adams, piano

Peter Baylor

Peter Baylor, guitar

Richard Opat

Richard Opat, drums

What Ian Smith plans to do is select at least two tunes which were made famous in the 1940s and 50s by the Bell Band, Frank Johnson’s Fabulous Dixielanders, Len Barnard’s Famous Jazz Band, Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers, and so on.

He will then move on to the Jazz Revival era of the 60s which brought us such bands as the Yarra Yarras, the Red Onions, the New Harlem, Steve Waddell’s Creole Bells, Fred Parkes’ Rhythm Kings and the New Rhythm Kings, the Melbourne Dixieland Jazz Band, and Smacka Fitgibbon’s various ensembles, amongst others.

Australian traditional jazz became famous throughout the world beginning with the Graeme Bell Band’s inspiring postwar tour of Europe in 1948, and followed by many others, including the Louisiana Shakers, Tom Baker’s various bands, Hotter than Six, Fireworks, the New Melbourne, the Creole Bells, and of course the Syncopators, now on their 15th tour of Europe.

These bands put Australia on the world jazz map.  It will be a thrill to hear the repertoires of these legendary groups  reinterpreted by today’s master trad. jazz musicians (some of whom played way back then as youngsters, of course!)

FOR a memorable afternoon of GREAT JAZZ get on the phone to Diana (5258 3936) and book your places.  A two course lunch and show will cost you $65 per person.  Payment by cheque to 25 Peterho Boulevard, Point Lonsdale. 3225. If you prefer, you can pay by bank transfer to Jazz Australia. BSB: 063 138 Account No: 1001 3193.






































And just to remind you what the Bell Band sounded like back in 1949 when it burst upon Melbourne and the world, below is a Swaggie recording of the band playing WOLVERINE BLUES.

Caulfield RSL: the end of an era

Caulfield RSL

THE Caulfield RSL has been a great venue for traditional jazz over the past decades. but sad to say this is about to come to an end.
It was common knowledge last year that attendances were falling off, with a decline in income for the RSL. However under the energetic and experienced management of Bob Whetstone, this year has seen a remarkable turnaround in the profitability of Friday Night Jazz with an exciting programme and much better promotion. Despite this success, the new manager has decided to take the club in a new direction to try and attract a younger audience. This will involve no more jazz on Fridays after 4 November, a new catering service and other changes yet to be announced.

This is bad, sad news for followers of trad jazz as another weekly venue closes – one less opportunity for bands to play on a regular basis, and one less choice for fans to enjoy the music we love to hear.  It may be a vain hope that a new venue for traditional jazz will surface – it’s happened before – but in the meantime let’s continue to support those that are still operating.  It’s in our own interests as players and audiences.

The two remaining gigs at Caulfield will be on:
Friday 28 October with Des Camm’s Band
Friday 4 November with John Morrison’s Moonee Valley Jazz Band.
Both much loved bands, so come and make their Caulfield swan songs shouts rather than whimpers.
Bookings are essential on 9528 3600. Cover charge is $15. Dinner available from soon after 6.00pm. Music 8.00pm to 11.00pm.

In happier times, here are Bob and Marcia Whetstone dancing (with others) to the music of The Syncopators.

And now all we can say is a huge “Thank you” to Bob for the dedication and perspiration he has expended over the past 11 months to bring us so many joyful musical experiences.

One of the musicians who has played at Caulfield puts it so well:

Hello Dear Bob,
What sad news indeed! Not the least because I know just how much extremely hard work, physically & emotionally, that you’ve put into keeping the Jazz alive at Caulfield on Fridays.

I can only thank you personally and sincerely for the gigs that you’ve put my way, not only with my own bands, but also the very enjoyable sessions that you & I have shared there.
I know that the many musicians who have enjoyed the benefits of the “extended life span” of Friday Jazz at Caulfield will share my thanks to you.
Always with very best regards,

Tom Baker: ten years gone

TOM Baker died on 23 October 2001, ten years ago.  He was 49 years old.
At the time, the outpouring of grief and sense of loss was phenomenal; not only in Tom’s adopted home Australia, but wherever he had played around the world; and not only amongst his fans who loved him for his talent and his approachability, but even more so amongst his fellow musicians, again for his talents but also for his wide generosity in sharing his knowledge and skills.

He breathed his music and mesmerised me

I learned so much about playing from Tom – especially playing from the heart which is the hardest thing.

There are plenty of good jazzmen about but Tom had that something extra that makes for a great player.

No matter what band he played with, Tom lifted the group to a higher level.

This small collection of some of Tom’s recordings is a tribute to a wonderfully versatile musician and a “fair dinkum bonzer bloke” as we might say in Australia.
The last video in this collection was posted today, 23 October 2011

The portraits in the following slide show are by Pat Qua. The photographs are from Paul Finnerty’s website Riff Raff Jazz.

Here Tom plays at the Strawberry Hills Hotel, Sydney about 1993. The lineup is Tom on trumpet; Paul Furniss, soprano saxophone; Don Heap, bass; Pat Qua, piano; Lynn Wallis, drums; Roger Janes, trombone; Paul Finnerty, banjo.

The next three clips are from the Fireworks band performances at the Sacramento Jazz Festival in 1998 – a wonderful year for this great band which included Graham Coyle, Jo Stevenson, Simon Stribling, Ian Smith, Mark Elton and of course, Tom Baker.

Here Tom plays with the Swedish Jazz Kings at the Akersund Traditional Jazz Festival, Akersund, Sweden in 1999
Tom Baker, trombone and vocals; Tomas Ornberg, clarinet; Martin Litton, piano; Bent Persson,trumpet; Olle Nyman, banjo; Bo Juhlin, sousaphone.

At the same Festival, Tom plays a duet with Martin Litton

The final two tracks were recorded live using a portable mini-disc recorder with a stereo microphone. July 2000, Ascona Switzerland (New Orleans Jazz Ascona)
“A million thanks to Dan Barrett. He was supposed to be there on trombone, but he had another concert, so I got to be there.” Michael Supnick.
Tom Baker – Cornet and vocals, Evan Christopher – clarinet, Michael Supnick – trombone, Eddie Erickson – banjo, ????? – piano, Trevor Richards – drums.

Not forgotten Tom.

Peninsula Rhythm Kings play for the Archive

THE Peninsula Rhythm Kings is a relatively new band – a bit more than two years together – but the members are all musicians of experience and reputation with a long line of other groups played with currently, or in the past.

Peninsula Rhythm Kings

The Peninsula Rhythm Kings

Here we have Frank Stewart on clarinet, Lee Treanor on banjo, Kay Younger (vocals), John Roberts on trumpet, Peter Grey on bass, Graeme Davies on trombone, and in the front, leader John Kent on drums.   Their repertoire is trad. with a bit of swing and Billie Holiday from Kay.

This well-credentialed band will be playing at the Rosstown Hotel, cnr. Koornang Road and Princes Highway, Carnegie on Sunday 30 October from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Another fund raiser: this time for the Victorian Jazz Archive.  (They keep cropping up, and rightly so.  A splendid organisation which is well worth a visit in person, or if that’s not possible, via their website or monthly newsletter).

There’s a cover charge of $10 if you’re a member of the Archive, $15 if you’re not.

The bistro opens at 12 noon for lunch.   BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL on 9571 1033.

On a recent visit to the Rosstown we saw this noble beast parked outside. It’s that sort of place.! car

STOP PRESS: The Peninsula Rhythm Kings will also be playing at the Moe Jazz Club on Friday 21 October.  They will be without Frank and Kay, but will include John Kelly as guest clarinetist.

9 Rogers Court, Traralgon VIC 3844
President: Bruce Lawn 03 5174 3516
Venue: Banjo’s Restaurant, Moe RSL, 63 Albert Street, Moe
Music 1.30pm-4.30pm
Meal Bookings: 03 5126 2512.

The Race That Stops a Nation: Jazz on Cup Day

ON the first Tuesday of November since 1861, the Melbourne Cup ( a horse race) has been run over 2 miles, and people of all ages all over Australia stop what they are doing to watch or listen.
Now I know this isn’t jazz, but Slim Dusty’s song The Melbourne Cup will give you the flavour of the day.

While thousands will actually attend the race meeting, many thousands more take the opportunity to get a gang of friends together for a long convivial lunch around the barbecue.

Well on Cup Day this year, Tuesday 1 November, a very pleasant way to spend this holiday would be to gather with likeminded jazz fans at  The Victorian Jazz Musicians’ Benefit Fund  JAZZ PICNIC  at The Victorian Jazz Archive, Koomba Park, Moutain Highway, Wantirna.    There you can wine and lunch (in moderation of course). listen to some great jazz, and help a cause close to our hearts.

Jim Beadman

Jim Beadman, President of the VJMBF

The Victorian Jazz Musicians’ Benefit Fund is an independent non-profit  organisation set up in 1992 following a one-off fundraiser for a jazz musician who needed some help to get him out of a hole.   Its role is to provide temporary support for musicians who fall on hard times and are unable to play their instruments for whatever reason.

At least once a year The Fund holds a “Jazz Bash” to increase the kitty.   This year it will take the form of a picnic.  Jazz will be continuous from 12 noon to 5.30pm, with many well known sit-ins.  BYO hamper, drinks and chairs. Tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin.  A large BBQ is available.

Donation: $7.50. Musicians: $5.00. Children and students free.

Melbourne Cup hats

Melbourne Cup hats

To get into the right mood, you might want to wear your most glamorous, extravagant, amusing hat!!  And that’s not just for the ladies.

This will also be an opportunity to revisit, or visit for the first time, the splendid Victorian Jazz Archive , to wonder at its collections, or to pick up a couple of jazz CDs at the Archive Shop run by the indefatigible and knowledgeable Barry Mitchell.

Ring Jeff Blades on 9801 5007 for more information.

John McCarthy: Farewell

Geoff Bull and John McCarthy

Geoff Bull and John McCarthy (photo by Ron Jobe)

Multi-instrumentalist John McCarthy (nicknamed ‘Darky’) died at his home in Sydney on Thursday 6 October  at the age of 81. So ends a musical career which spanned more than six decades, involved a wide range of styles, and evoked the admiration of fellow musicians and fans alike.

John was born in Sydney on 6 January 1930, and except for a brief stay in Melbourne in 1950 with Frank Johnson’s Fabulous Dixielanders, spent his musical career based in his home city. He began playing clarinet at the age of 15 in 1945, and during his musical life also mastered the soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax and flugelhorn.

He joined The Riverside Jazz Band in 1947 and later the Port Jackson Jazz Band, both of which were established by trombonist Jack Parkes to promote traditional jazz styles in postwar Sydney.  From 1958 he was also a member of the Ray Price Quartet.  Here’s a clip of John playing with the Ray Price Quartet (in this case Quintet) playing Sidney Bechet’s beautiful tune A Moi de Payer (The Payoff).

The musicians on the recording are Ray Price on guitar and banjo; Johnny McCarthy, clarinet; Joe Costelloe, trombone; Dick Hughes, piano; and Wally Wickham on string bass. This recording reached No. 6 on the local Hit Parade, and was also popular overseas.

He left both bands in 1962 and joined Dick Hughes’ Quartet; in the mid-sixties joined the Graeme Bell Band, and in the seventies, the Bob Barnard Band.

John McCarthy with Bell Band

Welcome home to the Graeme Bell Band
Hyde Park, Sydney 1948

The front line marchers are Ken Olsen (holding banner), John McCarthy, Frank (Sydney) Johnson, Jack Parkes, Roger Bell, Ade Monsbourgh, Don “Pixie” Roberts and Graeme Bell. (from Australian Jazzman by Graeme Bell.)

He worked extensively on a freelance basis: think of almost any Sydney band of standing and John McCarthy will have played with them.

One musician with whom he worked extensively was John Sangster. Click on the album cover (left) to hear Vale Theoden from John Sangster’s musical interpretation of Lord of the Rings. Originally recorded in 1974 by EMI it was reissued by Wave Records in 2002. (You’ll remember of course that King Theoden was a major character in Tolkien’s epic who died leading his people, the Rohirrim, against the Nazgul.) John McCarthy’s  “spare but intense clarinet is heard to great effect in this track.” (Bruce Johnson’s Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz).

Any true Bohemian or discerning follower of live music in Sydney from 1976 onward would have encountered The Roger Janes Band. As regular musicians at Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel they were a fixture at one of the world’s longest running jazz residencies. The  CD – Crazy -captures vividly what was possibly their greatest line-up, each player a capable bandleader and gifted soloist in his own right.  Roger Janes-Trombone & Vocal; Tom Baker – Trumpet; Marty Mooney – Saxophone; John McCarthy – Clarinet; Gary Walford – Piano; Lynn Wallis – Drums; Ian Date – Guitar; Don Heap – Bass.   Click on the CD cover to hear a clip from Swinging the Blues.

In the late 1980s John played with Dave Dallwitz’s Sydney Big Band. Greg Englert recorded the following fabulous video of the Dallwitz Band playing on Bondi Beach in 1986. Greg is the lead trumpet in the middle between John Roberts and Cliff Reese. John McCarthy is on 1st tenor sax along with Trevor Rippingale, Paul Furniss and Tich Bray on clarinet.

A wake will be held for John McCarthy on Monday 17 October. Tony Buckley, Bob Barnard and many other musos who knew John and shared making music with him will be there to pay tribute to a fine musician and a lovely man.

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Vale: Bridge Hotel

Bridge Hotel, Richmond

The Bridge Hotel, Bridge Road, Richmond looking sad

PASSING the Bridge Hotel last Sunday (2 October 2011) we were presented with this dismal sight!   From across the road the sign on the front door seemed to read  “DEMOLITION PROJECT IN PROGRESS”.

But on closer investigation it appears that it’s not the wrecker’s hammer  but renovation which faces the old pub. The owners have a grandiose plan to create a “cool” venue in the heart of Richmond, which is definitely on the upward spiral from grunge to gentrification!

Here’s an exerpt from the owners’ press release on  their website:

The idea our architects had in designing the new Bridge Hotel was to borrow from Melbourne’s eclectic laneway culture and run a cobblestone laneway right through the centre, complete with outdoor tables, heaters, umbrellas and an enormous three metre high glass-encased wood burning fire. It’s an extraordinary concept – and we can’t wait to see it!
Sitting off the laneway will be a host of smaller spaces incorporating public bars, wine bars, dining rooms, private rooms, function rooms and casual dining areas.
Sitting above the laneway (on level two of the Hotel) will be a series of three private lofts that can also be linked into one giant (and very cool) function space. Each loft will have a couple of balconies that sit out over the laneway below, so from every angle the hotel looks and feels like a cool working laneway. Suffice to say, we are really excited about the end result!

Whatever the result – due to open in November 2011 or thereabouts – it won’t be THE BRIDGE as we knew it in the ROARING EIGHTIES and it certainly doesn’t sound like a jazzers’ haven.

Admittedly there hasn’t been jazz at The Bridge for more than a decade, but if you ask anyone around the jazz scene in Melbourne where they used to listen to jazz  “in the old days”, The Bridge is one of the first they mention.
Bands like HOTTER THAN SIX, FIREWORKS, DES CAMM, THE NEW MELBOURNE, DAVE HETHERINGTON’S JAZZBOS all played there on different nights of the week.

Ross Anderson, founder and leader of THE NEW MELBOURNE JAZZ BAND, said in an interview last year that his band played there for 16 years for “the best ever publican, Trevor Birchall”.  Ross was asked to put together a Dixieland band in 1981 for a one night gig at another hotel, the Limerick Arms in South Melbourne  (which turned out to be a much longer residency).  That was how The New Melbourne Jazz Band was formed, and it’s still going 30 years later, as are Des Camm’s Jazz Band and Dave Hetherington’s Jazzbo’s.

I haven’t got a video of any of these bands performing in the days of The Bridge,  but here’s one of THE NEW MELBOURNE playing in about 1991, possibly at  Monsalvat .  The lineup is Ross Anderson on bass, Derek Reynolds on trumpet, Willy Purcell on banjo, Ian Walkear on clarinet and saxes, John Murray on trombone, and Chuck Smith on drums.  The tune is PANAMA (sometimes known as PANAMA RAG) .   Derek Reynolds remembers that they   worked up the arrangement to include a couple of phrases from the Black Dogs’ version (Black Dogs’ Cassette Tape “Dog Daze”).

And just to remind you about the Black Dogs, they were a Dixieland band put together in 1988 by Steve Yocum from musicians who played at Disney World. Here’s a clip recorded in Dubuque, Iowa on 23 March 1991.

You can find out what THE NEW MELBOURNE JAZZ BAND is doing now by visiting their website.

PS. Tony Orr has just reminded me that Steve Waddell’s CREOLE BELLS also had a couple of long stints at THE BRIDGE. Thanks Tony!



Tony Orr


The Goodman Touch: Alex Hutchinson on clarinet

Alex Hutchinson - The Goodman TouchDRIVING to an appointment some weeks ago I was listening again to Alex Hutchinson’s truly beautiful  CD -THE GOODMAN TOUCH.
Alex has been playing clarinet (and saxophone) for about 50 years, and his mastery of the instrument is outstanding – elegant and fluent, even “slick” which Alex takes as a compliment!
The first track on this disk is that old Australian folk song “The Road to Gundagai”, composed (and sung many times) by Jack O’Hagan. It is not what you would call a jazz tune by any means, but Alex plays it beautifully in this idiom.
Last Sunday we were lunching with Alex at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel in Bridge Road, Richmond where Smithy’s Jazz Trio performs, and Alex stood in with the regular band for an improvised version of this tune.

With Alex are Peter Uppman on trumpet, Brian Davies on guitar and Mark Elton on bass.
Now listen to the recorded version. I love them both!

To find out more about Alex you can visit his website, or most days you can find him on the Facebook page, CLARINET JAZZ POINT.
His other CDs include “The Tassie Connection” and “Clarinet Love Affair”. Look out for a new one about to be released which was recorded with clarinet virtuoso Andy Firth a few months ago.
I believe most of Alex’s recordings are available on iTunes, but if you’re like me and prefer a CD in your hand (if only for the cover notes), contact Alex at his website and I’m sure he’ll let you have one if you smile and offer him money!