Monthly Archives: January 2012

India’s Jazz Age

When you think of jazz in the early 20th Century you may think of New Orleans, Chicago, New York or Paris. What isn’t so well known is that the Indian city of Bombay – now Mumbai – had its own flourishing jazz scene in the 1930s.

story of bombay jazzNaresh Fernandes – author of “Taj Mahal Foxtrot, the story of Bombay’s jazz age” – paints a portrait of the musicians, the fans, and the music.

Click on the title, Bombay’s jazz age, to watch and listen to his fascinating audio slideshow published on the Internet in the BBC News Magazine.

And here is one of the leading musicians from that era, Chic Chocolate, who modelled himself on his hero, Louis Armstrong.

Chic Chocolate

Chic Chocolate

Thank you to Evelyne Perks Cohen, Mel Blachford and Gretel James for alerting me to this wonderful slice of jazz history,

The Fabulous Ali Mills sings “Waltzing Matilda”

Ali Mills

Ali Mills

THANKS to friends Del Bishop and Ross Anderson, I’ve just discovered the wonderful Ali Mills. “Where have you been these last 40 years?” I hear many of you ask, but Ali’s been in Darwin and I’ve been elsewhere most of the time, but thanks to YouTube and friends, I’ve finally caught up.

From various Internet sources I learn that Ali Mills was born and raised in Darwin. She is the daughter of famous Indigenous performer and musician David Mills and activist mother Kathy Mills. As a member of Darwin’s The Mills Sisters (not to be confused with the Torres Strait Island Mills Sisters), Ali has supported acts such as Tina Turner, Charlie Pride and Bullamakanka, as well as starring on the festival circuit and winning several awards. Although having been a performer for over 4 decades, Mills has only recently released her first solo album titled “Waltjim Bat Matilda” which includes a track in which Ali performs ‘Waltzing Matilda’ in her Gurindji/Kungarakan language and Kriol (an amalgam of the languages of European settlers, Chinese and other Asians and the indigenous people in the northern regions of Australia which is spoken by about 30,000 people in the Darwin area).

Here’s Ali singing, from her album, this exuberant version of one of Autralia’s best known folk songs:

“Basically this album for me is a thank you to my elders for what they gave me, what they taught me in terms of song and music, laughter, joy, culture, identity and heritage. It’s all in my songs, it’s a huge tribute to my elders that have passed on,” says Ali.

Custodians of story and culture are special people in all Indigenous communities, and while it may have taken her awhile, it’s clear to see that Ali’s inspiration to finally record came from a very important and spiritual place.

On the Skinnyfish Music label, the album is available from their website:

Geelong RSL gigs through March 2012

From my Geelong spies, Sandy and Geoff Leaman, here’s an update on the Geelong RSL Sunday gigs, through to 25th March 2012. Geelong RSL, 50 Barwon Heads Road, Belmont. 5.30-8.30pm. 5241 1766 for bookings.

Des Camm

Des Camm

Sunday 19th Feb 2012 – Des Camm Jazz Band
Sunday 26th Feb 2012 – Royal Garden Jazz Band
Sunday 4th Mar 2012 – Maryborough Traditional Jazz Ensemble
Sunday 11th Mar 2012 – New Orleans Night Owls
Sunday 18 Mar 2012 – Des Camm Jazz Band
Sunday 25 Mar 2012 – Moonee Valley Jazz Band

Back to Clayton after the break: the Victorian Jazz Club reopens with Geoff Power

Geoff Power

Geoff Power (photo: Ron Jobe)

SYDNEY-based multi-instrumentalist, Geoff Power, made one of his regular visits to Victoria on Saturday 21 January to launch the Victorian Jazz Club’s 2012 season at Clayton RSL. A goodly and jazz-hungry crowd was there to welcome him back.

Geoff has played with all the Australian “greats” in many bands, including those he has led himself, and has toured widely within Australia and overseas.

This trip, Geoff was supported by a group of well-known Melbourne musos:
Mike Edwards on alto and soprano saxes, John Adams on piano, Mark Elton on bass, and Ron Sandiland on drums.

Here are a couple of clips:
The first features Mike Edwards on that difficult instrument, the soprano sax, playing Sidney Bechet’s classic “Si tu vois ma mere” which has had a new surge in popularity as the theme for Woody Allen’s recent piece of whimsy “Midnight in Paris”. A good example of less is often better! John Adams wasn’t being coy hiding behind the music stand – it was just my filming vantage point!

And here’s Geoff, centre front, playing “Alice Blue Gown”.

The previous night, he had played for the Peninsula Jazz Club at its Patterson Lakes venue, but with a different backing band.

Paris Cat Jazz Club: what’s coming

THE Paris Cat Jazz Club at 6 Goldie Place in downtown Melbourne has an established tradition of presenting great jazz performers, both local and overseas. Here’s a taste of what’s on in the next couple of months. The shows start at either 9.00 or 9.30pm. Booking is available on line at their website Phone for more info: 9642 4711.

Sonja Horbelt

Saturday January 21: The Sonja Horbelt Quintet featuring Nina Ferro and Kellie Santin
Sonja is often a sideperson in other ensembles, but this group features Sonja’s originals and reunites her with long time collaborators Kellie Santin (recently returned from London) and Nina Ferro (on a fleeting visit from London). Completing the line up are the ever astonishing Bob Sedergreen on piano and in demand bassist Kim May.

Nichaud Fitzgibbon

Friday January 27: Nichaud Fitzgibbon Quartet
Regarded as Melbourne’s finest jazz stylist, Nichaud will be mixing it up with a bit of swing,Bossa, Blues and Grooves. Melbourne is one of the great musical cities and Nichaud is one of its treasures.


Julie OHara

Saturday 4 February: Julie O’Hara Quintet
Julie O’Hara has established herself as one of Australia’s finest female jazz vocalists. This wonderful performer and Paris Cat favorite is the perfect Saturday night jazz act. Her quintet will feature some of Melbourne’s finest jazz musicians.


Saturday 11 February: Irwell Street featuring Hetty Kate and Sam Lemann
After a recent sold out CD launch of Irwell Street’s second album, Hetty Kate and Sam Lemann are back with their swinging string quartet. The 2011 release “11:60pm”, a collection of songs made famous by Rosemary Clooney, Flanagan and Allen, Bing Crosby, Django Reinhardt and Billie Holiday. Featuring Andy Baylor (guitar/mandolin) and Leigh Barker (double bass) you can expect island rhythms, up-tempo swing tunes, sassy blues and beautiful ballads from their new record and their first release ‘A Late Brunch On Irwell Street’.

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart

And of course you know already about Heather Stewart ”Sings Billie Holiday” on Saturday 25 February.

Heather Stewart is a rare breed of musician. She returns by popular demand to perform at the Paris Cat. Heather has a huge voice and is an immensely talented violinist. Her Billie Holiday tribute show has established Heather as a club favorite with 3 sell out shows this year. Heather and her wonderful band return for another memorable evening.

Yvette Johansson rocks @ Oakleigh RSL

NOT so long ago, the Oakleigh RSL at 95 Drummond Street, Oakleigh was the home of the Victorian Jazz Club (and much longer ago it was The Onion Patch, home of The Red Onions Jazz Band!).

Under its new name of The Caravan Music Club, the venue offers a change of rhythm. Our correspondents tell us that the joint really rocks.

Yvette Johansson

Yvette Johansson

On Wednesday, 25 January from 8pm-11pm the old hall offers a
raucous night of rhythm ‘n’ blues and early rock ‘n’ roll. Well known jazz singer around town, Yvette Johansson will unlock her Inner Elvis, with songs of Little Richard, Jerry-Lee Lewis, Elvis and Bo Diddley (with a few originals in the mix, to keep things interesting!). She will also be launching her latest CD.

You’ll recognise the names in the lineup:
Vocals – Yvette Johansson
Guitar – Dave Cantrell
Double bass – Mark Elton
Drums – Rod Gilbert

Eric Newton – the running clarinetist at the Riverwalk

Eric Newton at the Amora

Eric Newton at the Amora in January 2009
with Ian Smith and Peter Hooper

ENGLISH clarinetist, Eric Newton, regularly spends some time during our summer in Melbourne. While here, he can often be found sitting in with Ian Smith’s Riverwalk Trio at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel in Bridge Road, Richmond.

On Sunday 15 January you can catch Eric with “Smithy” at the Amora. During lunch (from 12.30-3.30) the Trio plays lovely relaxed jazz, and any tune you might request. Be sure to ask Eric to play “Burgundy Street Blues” which he does superbly without any of the bird trills so many musos love to add.

Eric began his musical career with the New Orleans style band, the Ceramic City Stompers in Burslem, Staffordshire in the 1950s at the age of 17. He is now a busker in Stoke-on-Trent.

Here’s a clip of Eric playing last year in Cadwaladers Ice Cream Cafe in Trentham, South Staffordshire.

As well as playing a beautiful clarinet, Eric is a seasoned marathon runner, having run the daunting 42 km distance at least 30 times, most of these playing his clarinet. The tune? WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN of course; and his Personal Best is expressed in terms of the number of times he repeats the tune during the run!

Come and hear the music, enjoy a leisurely lunch. We’ll see you there.
Phone: 9246 1200 for bookings.

Dutch Swing College Band touring Australia in March: supported by New Melbourne Jazz Band in Melbourne

Dutch Swing College BandONE of the world’s legendary jazz bands, The Dutch Swing College Jazz Band will tour Australia in March 2012.   This will be their fourth or fifth trip to Oz since the band was formed in 1945.
Another legendary group – Ross Anderson’s  New Melbourne Jazz Band – will be the support band for the DSCB for their Melbourne engagement.    This will be a meeting of old friends since the New Melbourne has played with their Dutch colleagues on a number of previous visits.


As will be well known the Dutch Swing College Band grew out of a group of young people in The Netherlands who wanted to preserve jazz music when it was banned by the Nazi occupation forces during World War II.  They  practiced secretly copying illegal radio broadcasts, and were  determined to found a school for jazz music when the war was over.   On Liberation Day, May 5th 1945, the Orchestra of the Dutch Swing College had its first public performance. Their members gave lectures, organised jazz meetings and started to teach jazz music.

Here’s a rare piece of film of the DSCB playing in 1958.

Sixty two years after their first performance, here’s a clip of the band playing in Germany in 2007.

The DSCB, which has existed now for sixty-six years, has given concerts all over the world to much acclaim.  The band also appeared frequently on numerous TV and film productions.  Through the years many big names of jazz music were backed by the DSCB, from Sidney Bechet, Joe Venuti and Rita Reys to Teddy Wilson.
The line-up of the Band which will tour Australia in Feb/March will include:
Leader Bob Kaper (clarinet, alto sax, vocals)
Keesjan Hoogeboom (trumpet, vocals)
Frits Kaatee (clarinet, baritone, soprano & tenor sax)
Maurits Woudenberg (trombone)
Ton van Bergeijk (banjo, guitar)
Adrie Braat (double bass)
Onno de Bruijn (drums).

Their whirlwind itinerary will be:
MANDURAH (Performing Arts Centre) Wednesday February 29
BUNBURY (Entertainment Centre) Friday March 2
PERTH (Perth Concert Hall) Saturday March 3
MELBOURNE (Melbourne Town Hall) Monday March 5
CANBERRA (Canberra Theatre Centre) Wednesday March 7
NEWCASTLE (Civic Theatre) Thursday March 8
SYDNEY (Sydney Town Hall) Saturday March 10
GOLD COAST Monday March 12, (Arts Centre)

Here’s a clip of the New Melbourne playing at the Balmoral Gardens Retirement Village , Wantirna South in 2010. The lineup: Ross Anderson, leader/bass/vocals; Peter Uppman, trumpet; Ron Trigg, clarinet; Charlie Farley, banjo; Peter Whitford, drums.


For further information, media interviews, publicity materials please contact Yellow Banana Concerts (Paul Gadenne) 0419 300675 or email

Stride pianist Judy Carmichael coming to Melbourne

Judy Carmichael

Judy Carmichael

US STRIDE Piano player Judy Carmichael, will be in Melbourne for 3 days in January 2012.
Her schedule is:
Tuesday 17 January: Piano Time, 109 York Street, South Melbourne. 7pm. 9690 5566
Thursday & Friday, 19 and 20 January: Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennett’s Lane, Melbourne. 9663 2856

Grammy nominated pianist Judy Carmichael is one of the world’s leading interpreters of stride piano and swing. Count Basie nicknamed her “Stride”, acknowledging the command with which she plays this technically and physically demanding jazz piano style. Judy’s CD “Come and Get It” features her singing debut on everything from Peggy Lee inspired standards, to humorous takes on Fats Waller tunes.

Here’s a sample to whet your appetite. I don’t know where it is or who the wonderful musicians with her are (can someone help me). but I love it!

Hot Club of Cowtown

IN response to my post about Heather Stewart, Geoff Leaman from Geelong made the following comment:
Sandy & I hope to hear & see Heather Stewart sometime – in the meantime we always look at many Jazz items on Youtube. We discovered some time ago an American group called Hot Club of Cowtown – a trio with one of the stars Violinist/Vocalist Elana James – she & Guitar & String Bass are ALL HOT!! I thought of them after seeing yr item on Heather & wonder if she knows of them?

Here’s a clip of the group performing in Marblehead, Maryland, USA.

The Hot Club of Cowtown is a jazz/western swing trio, comprising; Elana Fremerman (now known as Elana James) (vocals, violin), Whit Smith (vocals, guitar), and slap bass player Jake Erwin, who also sing in three-part harmony. Smith and James, originally met through an ad in the classified music section of The Village Voice in 1994. They played together in New York City before relocating to San Diego in 1997, where they spent a year playing for tips, and building up their repertoire. By 1998, they relocated to Austin, Texas and in 2000 added Jake Erwin on bass, finalizing the Hot Club’s lineup.

Since their first recording in 1998, the Hot Club of Cowtown has become a hard-swinging Western swing trio. The first American band to tour Azerbaijan, they have opened for such artists as Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson and continue to bring their brand of western swing to a wide range of festival audiences all over the world, but it has always been about staying true to their roots.

Remaining willfully out of the musical mainstream, Hot Club of Cowtown has created a cult following. The “Hot Club” in their name comes from Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s Hot Club of France, and “Cowtown” from the western influence of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.