Monthly Archives: October 2012

Crescent City Serenaders with Margret RoadKnight: a WOW night at the Surrey Music Cafe


IF you can remember the 1960s’ late night jazz sessions at Frank Traynor’s Jazz and Folk Club on the corner of Exhibition and Little Lonsdale Streets – or if you’ve only heard tell of them – you will want to join Margret RoadKnight and Barry Wratten to relive those heady, youthful days of Melbourne jazz.

You can do this at a slightly different cafe (they have tables and chairs, and they finish at 11.00pm rather than start) – THE SURREY MUSIC CAFE at the Box Hill Community Arts Centre, 470 Station Street, Box Hill on Friday 30 November.

Barry Wratten

Barry will be leading his Crescent City Serenaders comprising jazz greats David Allardice on piano, Chris Ludowyk on trombone, Michael McQuaid on trumpet and reeds, John Scurry on guitar and banjo, Andy Ross on bass and Lynn Wallis on drums.

Margret RoadKnight


And if this wasn’t enough, legendary jazz, blues, gospel, folk singer Margret RoadKnight has just returned from New Orleans to perform with the band.

I’m feeling breathless and speechless already!

The program will be a virtual history of New Orleans jazz as it evolved from Gospel Hymns and Brass Band “second lines” and a mix of Ragtime and Blues.

This is one of those rare programs where everything is in the right place at the right time, and lovers of New Orleans jazz should make sure that they are there too.

Tickets $18 by phone 9262 6555 or on line at
Doors open at 7.30pm. Music starts at 8.00pm

And thanks to Barry Wratten, here’s a memento from those earlier days: Smacka Fitzgibbon, Jim Beale, Peter Mackay, Barry, and Frank Traynor accompanying Margret RoadKnight at the 1968 Port Phillip Folk Society Concert, Great Hall, University of Melbourne.

Margret RoadKnight: who needs a microphone!

Ultrafox @ the Flying Saucer Club

PETER Baylor’s brilliant gypsy swing band, Ultrafox, will be playing at the Flying Saucer Club, 4 St. Georges Road, Elsternwick on Saturday 10 November.

If that address sounds familiar, yes you are correct. It is the Caulfield RSL in its new guise as an increasingly successful entertainment centre. All those who were habitues of the Caulfield RSL in the days of Friday Night Jazz will be pleased to see that one of the best spaces for live music in Melbourne is still being used for performances, and particularly pleased that “one of our own” is getting a gig there.

Ultrafox will feature Julie O’Hara, Peter Baylor, Michael McQuaid and the lineup from their recent CD “Chasing Shadows”. I’m not quite sure about the fellow on the far right with the guitar!

Click here to listen to “Royal Blue”, a track from “Chasing Shadows”

Here’s how the room has been tarted up and some of the happy audiences being attracted by the new regime.

The Flying Saucer Club at Caulfield RSL

This is a wonderful chance to listen to some beautiful music, and revisit an old haunt.

Bookings: 9528 3600. Doors open at 8.00pm. Music starts at 8.40pm.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Blue Grassy Knoll makes noise for Buster Keaton

Mark Elton playing with The Riverwalk Trio
21 October 2012

MARK Elton is one of the best jazz bass players in the business. He is also one of the busiest.

For example he has recently returned from a stint at the Edinburgh Festival, and a Mediterranean jazz cruise not to mention having a heavy schedule playing in various combos closer to home. But perhaps one of his lesser known activities is as a member of the Blue Grassy Knoll, a band which has made its mark composing and playing the score for silent movies starring the comic genius,  Buster Keaton.


Well, the Blue Grassy Knoll will be making its return to the Melbourne Recital Centre with a brand new score to Buster’s hilarious short film The Goat, as well as the side-splitting antics of The Boat and The Playhouse. on Friday 23 November at 7.30pm.

Buster Keaton in “The Goat”

A five star hit of the Edinburgh Festival, Blue Grassy Knoll’s unique live film score accompaniment to silent films has taken the group to five continents, including seasons on Broadway and London’s Southbank, and tours from Beijing to Brazil, South Africa and everywhere in between.

“If you think you know what a silent movie is, yet haven’t seen the Blue Grassy Knoll in action – think again… Five Stars” – The Guardian.

Here are the current members of the band:

The Blue Grassy Knoll

Gus Macmillan, banjo, flute, guitar, slide whistle, thunder sheet
Phil McLeod, cello , accordion, mandolin, harmonica, casio (Keyboard?), saxophone
Simon Barfoot, percussion, tin whistle, foley (sound effects)
Mark Elton, double bass, tuba, cornet
Steph O’Hara, violin, mandolin, accordion

And to give you some idea of the inspired mayhem which they can create, here they perform at the 2011 Melbourne Comedy Festival.

FOR TICKETS: Booking on line is probably easiest: Click here to find out what tickets are available.
Booking by telephone 9699 3333
In person Box Office in the foyer of the Melbourne Recital Centre, corner Southbank Boulevard and Sturt Street, Southbank. 9 – 5 Monday to Friday

Radio Days: when the wireless had valves and wasn’t wire-less

Richard Opat 2010 (photo :Ron Jobe)

COURTESY of drummer Richard Opat, we have just acquired two delightful CDs produced by the band Radio Days in the early 1990s.
(“Thanks for the Melody” in 1990, and “Love is on the Air Tonight” in 1992).

Radio Days was formed in Melbourne in 1989 by seven experienced jazz musicians, most of whom at some stage had been members of the New Harlem Jazz Band.

Many of you will have fond memories of The New Harlem which was founded by Ian Smith in 1968, and continued for twenty years under four different leaders until it folded in 1988. (Ian Smith, Chris Ludowyck, Sandro Donati and Patrick Miller)

The liner notes for “Thanks for the Melody” explain the purpose of the band better than I could:

The aim of the band has been to interpret songs from an era when radios still had valves. Rather than merely recreate swing band classics, Radio Days performs Pat Miller’s arrangements of popular songs, closely following the composers’ and publishers’ original conceptions of the tunes. The emphasis is on melody and unaffected vocals, yet the bubbling improvised solos and the infectious rhythms are perfect for both listening and dancing.

The unusual instrumentation of three saxophones and a four piece rhythm section is about half the usual size of a band from the era. Nevertheless Radio Days is able, through the versatility and musicianship of its members, to bring to life a time when melody came into your home by the magic of the radio.

Here’s the back cover of “Thanks for the Melody” showing the band in period setting! That’s Bill Morris (tuba) in the red tie, Neil Orchard (piano) next to him, Chris “Charley” Farley (banjo) proffering the cup of tea, Pat Miller (soprano, tenor and alto sax, clarinet) fiddling with the radio, Graeme Pender (clarinet,alto sax) dusting the three flying ducks, Jeff Parkes (tenor sax, guitar) with the vacuum cleaner, and last and by no means least, Richard Opat (drums) on his hands and knees. The lucky lady receiving all the attention is the wife of a friend of Bill Morris (name unknown). Click on the caption under the above picture to listen to Pat Miller composition, “Radio Days”.

Click on the caption to hear the title song.
The lineup is pretty much the same in 1992, except that there is no banjo in the cover picture (though if you listen closely you can hear Chris Farley plunking away), and Mike Edwards (second from the left in the front row) replaces Graeme Pender. Apart from Neil Orchard and Bill Morris, all are still playing. Jeff Parkes incidentally was the New Harlem’s first sousaphone player before being replaced by Bill Morris (a former member of The Red Onions Jazz Band). The genealogy of jazz bands is a fascinating study!

Every time I listen to these CDs, which is often, I can’t help smiling. So when the political, economic and social woes of the world get you down and the cat throws up on the carpet, get on the phone to Richard Opat on (03) 9528 6841 and beg copies of these panaceas for gloom. I believe they are $10 each including postage.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Dixie Ticklers tour Oz: young UK band with something old and something definitely new

Dom James and Nick Costley-White

LAST Friday, 19 October 2012, I had the opportunity to interview The Dixie Ticklers (all four of them) by telephone, which was a delight but a bit confusing since they all sounded like Prince William!

This is the Dixie Ticklers first visit to Australia, although since its inception in 2006 the band has built up a healthy reputation in the UK and on the European festival circuit as an exciting and energetic live group. They also have 3 CDs to their credit, the latest Standing Pat being available commercially in November. You can listen to four tracks from Standing Pat on their website.

Daoud Merchant

They must get a bit tired of being labelled “a young band”, but that’s what they are: average age 25 (the youngest 22 and the godfather 29}. And fairly unusual for a younger band, their roots are firmly set in New Orleans while branching out in some directions of their own, and choosing their style to suit the venue, the time of day and the audience.

The touring band comprises four musicians, (although for recording and some performances the lineup expands to include trumpet and percussions.)

Dom James, clarinet/vocals is the leader and the driving force and inspiration for the band’s style
Nick Costley-White on guitar
Tommy Antonio on double bass
Daoud Merchant on washboard and drums.

They’re halfway through their tour having already been in Melbourne briefly at The Paris Cat and Red Bennies, and in Burnie (Tasmania) for a workshop with local high school students and an evening concert.

Dixie Ticklers in Burnie

Some of the lucky Burnie students

The rest of the tour visits Sydney, the Jazz in the Vines Festival, Cronulla, Marrickville, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, and then back for one night only in Melbourne at the legendary Grace Darling Hotel in Collingwood.

Here are the details for those who’ll be in the right place at the right time:

Friday 26th October. Sydney Jazz Club, Sydney Flying Squadron 76 McDougall St Milsons Point. 12.30pm. $10
(02) 9719 3876
Saturday 27th October. Jazz in the Vines, Tyrrells Vineyard, 1838 Broke Road Pokolbin NSW 2320
(02) 4993 7000 – website
Sunday 28th October. Cronulla RSL Club, 38 Gerrale Street, Cronulla. afternoon (02)9523 6833
Sunday 28th October. Camelot Lounge, 19 Marrickville Road, Marrickville. Doors open 6.30. Show 7.30pm (02) 9550 3777
Friday 2nd November. Gold Coast Jazz & Blues Club, The Arts Centre, 135 Bundalls Road, Surfers Paradise. (07) 5588 4000 Bar and bistro open 11.30. Showtime 1.00pm
Friday 2nd November. Brisbane Jazz Club, 1 Annie Street, Kangaroo Point. (07) 3391 2006 evening
Sunday 4th November. The Grace Darling Hotel, 114 Smith Street, Collingwood. 9416 0055. 7.00pm $15.00

Then they’ll be back home in time for the London Jazz Festival on 11 November.

In talking to the band, I was particularly interested to find out how they came to choose New Orleans/Dixie/trad jazz as their metier, given that it’s not the popular music amongst people of their generation. The members are products of the Guildhall School of Music in London which has a very strong jazz stream in its curriculum – both at undergrad and postgrad levels. As a clarinet player, Dom was attracted by the swing masters Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw etc. but wanted to go back “to where it all began” where he discovered the freedom and challenges of New Orleans ensemble style. By listening to recordings (sound familiar) he and his colleagues tried to recreate the sound. “When I joined the Dixie Ticklers, I had to unlearn a lot of the classical stuff I’d been taught, to pare back my playing to get back to the bones of the music”, one of them said.

“We rehearse of course”, said Dom, “but most of our practice is private so as to be prepared for the challenges of improvising and responding to other musicians at a moment’s notice. No two performances are the same.”

There’s no doubt that the band is hardworking, and has done its apprenticeship in the usual ways – street performances, clubs, pubs, festivals, jazz clubs (where the older members are pleased to see a young band playing their sort of music), even swing patrol dance classes. Not so usual, Dom James runs a monthly Jazz Nursery where young bands can get experience performing in front of an audience.

Here are some varied examples of past performances:

In 2010 playing in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.

At the London cabaret club The Impudent Muse, @ Adam Street, Feb 2012

Performing at Newham London Waterfront Festival, 18 September 2010

Playing for guests at London’s In & Out Club. Every musician must suffer this sort of inattention!

Fianlly after this long ramble, if you get the chance to hear this exciting young band, I’m sure it will be a special experience. Or at least buy a copy of their latest CD.

Breaking the drought: first jazz day out for months!

AFTER four months of being off the jazz scene for various medical reasons, it was great to be back in the swing again last Sunday. And what better way to start testing the waters than lunching at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel with good friends Bob and Marcie Whetstone, and the inimitable Ian Smith Trio providing the music. I don’t know whether it’s because we’ve been starved for live jazz for so long, or whether the group was in particularly good form, but the music was at its mellowist.

The lineup – which varies week by week – was special. Ian Smith on cornet, Will Purcell on guitar and James Clark on bass. In addition Bob Whetstone had brought along his new Bobby Shew Yamaha trumpet and sat-in for several numbers.

“Blueberry Hill” was an early request. Bob and Graeme joining in the vocals.

Just to prove they can and do play anything (well almost anything) the punters ask for, the band did a chorus of “Loch Lomond” for a Scottish party. That’s the lovely Marcie Whetstone in the foreground.

Another request “Ain’t She Sweet”. Note Bob’s new mute which he tells me is a straight double mute, which looks rather like one described on the web as a Humes and Berg “Stonelined Cleartone Trumpet Mute”. Check it out and tell me if I’m wrong.

Bob breaks out on “Mack the Knife” while Ian has a go with the mute.

Graeme proves that he can still sing.

Bristol-born baby, Amelia Clark with Mum.

It was good to see James and family back in Australia after a sojourn in the UK, (based in Bristol) where he was playing with C. W. Stoneking’s Primitive Horn Orchestra.

Here’s a clip from a Stoneking performance in Athens in February 2012.
And yes, that’s Stephen Grant on cornet.

Well, I guess it pays the rent.

Sweet Ade Swings in Carnegie: Monsbourgh inspired band @ the Rosstown

The late, great Ade Monsbourgh

The Rosstown Hotel, 1084 Dandenong Rd.(corner of Koornung Road), Carnegie

Sunday afternoon, October 14 from 1.30 – 4.30 pm.

The Music
Sweet Ade is inspired by the late multi-instrumentalist Ade Monsbourgh. It’s a recorder-led jazz/ragtime ensemble and its repertoire includes many of Ade’s compositions, as well as ragtime, jazz standards and eclectic other material, mostly light-hearted and fun. It is an unusual, quirky and entertaining band which has had excellent responses at its first jazz festival performances earlier this year at Halls Gap and Inverloch.

The musicians for the afternoon will be: Marion Lustig (recorders), Janet Arndt (vocals), Peter Mason (clarinet, saxophone, recorder and vocals), Lisette Payet (piano and vocals), Andrew Stephens (banjo), Joe Kenyon (sousaphone), and Howard Rowe as guest on washboard and drums.

Admission is free. Bistro lunch is available from 12 noon. Bookings are highly recommended on 9571 1033.

About Ade Monsbourgh
For those who want to know a bit more about our inspiration, here are a few facts. Ade Monsbourgh, who died in 2006 aged 89 is sometimes known as the father of Australian jazz. He had a long career commencing in the 1930’s when, as young men in Melbourne, he and the Bell brothers Roger and Graeme and their friends started playing jazz influenced by 1920-30s recorded music from Chicago and New York. In mid 1947, the Graeme Bell Dixieland Jazz Band became the first Australian jazz group to undertake an organised overseas tour. They toured extensively to Europe and had a strong influence on the revival of traditional jazz there. Ade was a true multi-instrumentalist and played trombone, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, piano and violin and, unusually, jazz recorder. Ade was the co-owner with Pixie Roberts of a business, Pan Recorders, which from 1951 manufactured recorders in Victoria for the first time, and Ade introduced them into schools in Victoria and New South Wales. Sweet Ade’s repertoire includes (but is by no means limited to) many of the tunes on Ade’s CD Recorder in Ragtime, most of which was originally recorded by Swaggie Records in the 1950s and 60s.

Here is a classic Ade number – “Sorry to be Leaving” – played at the Geelong Jazz Convention in 1981 with the wonderful Neville Stribling and Roger Bell, and other greats, How good was that!

Jazz future in their hands?: Under 25s Jazz Workshop participants

Victorian Jazz Wokshop members playing at the launch of the “Future Knox Up In Lights” exhibition in Cinema Lane, Dorset Square, Boronia on 20 August 2012

THIS is one of the first public performances for participants in this year’s workshops for aspiring young jazz musicians run by Marina Pollard out of the Victorian Jazz Archive rooms at Wantirna. And appropriately it was connected with another youth activity: a community arts project run by the City of Knox for local school students to express their visions for the future of local parks and neighbourhood streets in their city using a variety of media. On August 20th the six winning entries went on display in the light boxes in Cinema Lane, Dorset Square, Boronia. The exhibition titled “Future Knox up in Lights” will run until November.

Since this gig, the Under 25’s Workshop Ensemble participated for an hour in Tommy Carter’s radio program “Jazz as you like it” on Radio 97.7 FM, and they are currently rehearsing for a performance at the Stringybark Festival in Rowville on Saturday 20 October. Marina is also negotiating for them to play at the Berwick Market in November. All great opportunities for these young musicians to get experience in public performance, and to build their musical ambitions.

Lizzie Watkins, guitar; Marcus Finne-Larsen, electric bass; Ashley Thomas, clarinet; Brian Abrahams, drums (tutor)

Ashley Thomas, clarinet & alto saxophone; Jennifer McCluskey, alto saxophone

Brian Abrahams, drums; Aaron Robertson, keyboard

Lizzie Watkins, guitar; Marcus Finne-Larsen, electric bass

Lizzie Watkins, guitar; Ashley Thomas, clarinet: Jennifer McCluskey, alto sax; Yang Chen, alto sax; Aaron Robertson, keyboard; Andre Lew, tenor sax; Liam Robertson, violin

Jazz Workshops have a long history in Melbourne. Before Marina took up the reins in about 2002, the Victorian Jazz Club – at the instigation of a group of musicians including Kevin Bolton, Dave Patton and Dawn Lock (now Houghton) in conjunction with Marj Burke – began presenting workshops for young people with jazz aspirations in 1984. Over the years the workshops provided a great opportunity for keen young musicians to expand their musical knowledge and to learn more about the history of jazz and how to play it. Many well known “older” musicians – including Ian Smith, Chris Ludowyk, Ian Hellings, Graham Coyle, Ross Anderson, John Adams, Graeme Pender, Pat Miller, Vince Hopkins, Ben Johnson, Fred Stephenson, Clint Smith etc. etc. etc -have given of their time and wisdom over the years. Some of the finest musicians who are now household names amongst the jazz fraternity came through these workshops: their list is also long but included Jo Stevenson, Ash Gaudion, Stephen Grant, Mark Elton, Lindsay Flint, Emelia Wilmot, Seb Girardot.

In about 2002 the Victorian Jazz Club was unable to find a volunteer to continue to run its Workshops. Marina Pollard stepped into the breech and set up a private business to offer a new workshop series which continues to this day with the cooperation of the Victorian Jazz Archive and the support of various jazz clubs, including the VJC. Marina’s devotion to the task of introducing young people to the joys of jazz has been and continues to be outstanding.

Anyone interested in participating in the Under 25s workshops or those for older musicians should contact Marina on 9781 4972 or by email at vhmarinap@bigpond .com

Maple Leaf Reunion Band at Peninsula Jazz Club

THE ever popular Peninsula Jazz Club meets on the third Friday of each month at the Patterson Lakes Community Centre in Thompson Road. This month – October 19th – the band on tap will be The Maple Leaf Reunion Band, with some members from the original band and others from various stages in its wild and woolly career.

The band began in 1974 at the Canada Hotel in Swanston Street, hence the name Maple Leaf. Many people have flowed through the ranks since then – remember who turned up at their famous reunion in March 2010.

The band had a number of notable residencies during its roaring days. Amongst them were The Anchor and Hope Hotel (known fondly as the Wanker and Grope) in Church Street, Richmond which was said to be a dangerous place to play – not because there were bad men about, but because it was so crowded, especially after a footy game; The Victoria Hotel (The Pink Vic – but no longer pink) in Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park; The Spread Eagle in Bridge Road, Richmond and The Portsea Hotel down the Bay.

The legendary Wes Brown was one of the originals. Wes has just celebrated his 90th birthday.

Wes Brown at the 2010 reunion (photo by Barry Wratten)

I believe Don Santin may also have been a founding member.

Don Santin with his daughter Kellie, another talented musician

Perhaps the longest serving members, Bob Whetstone and Kim Rushworth, will be playing at the Peninsula gig:

Bob Whetstone

Kim Rushworth

With Bob and Kim, the rest of the lineup will be:
Don Santin, trombone
Tony Orr, banjo/guitar
Joe McConechy, bass
Ben Rushworth, drums

Bob will be debuting his new “Marcie” trumpet, actually a Bobby Shew Yamaha.


They’ll play and sing a lot of the old tunes which were, and still are, favourites with thefans. No doubt some of these will be from the Reunion CD which was recorded in 1986 and released in 2010. One of my favourite tracks on this disc is King Oliver’s “Chimes Blues”. I enjoy the Maple Leaf arrangement more than others I’ve heard, including King Oliver’s, Louis Armstrong’s and Chris Barber’s!

Doors open at 7.00pm, and the music will roll from 8.00-11.00 pm.
It’s a good idea to book because the Peninsula Club always has a crowded house. 9580 2906 or 0422 657 634

Noosa Jazz Picnic: those Queenslanders certainly know how to have a good time!

Noosa Jazz Picnic 2011 (from the Noosa Heads Jazz Club newsletter, June 2012)

RICHARD Stevens, President of the Noosa Jazz Club and my correspondent from up north, sends news of his club’s annual Jazz Picnic at the Tewantin Tree Farm on Sunday 14 October 2012.

Tewantin is a village on the Noosa River which has loads of history, natural beauty, things to do messing about in boats, produce and craft markets, and beautiful trees as you can see in the above photo.

Tewantin marina

For some reason many people, including many fine musicians, flock to this part of our great continent for short breaks from the wintry blasts further south, or for permanent wallowing in the lovely, laid back lifestyle for which the Sunshine Coast is famous.

The Noosa Jazz Festival and the Noosa Jazz Party (continuous trad jazz over four days, run by the Jazz Club) are over, but this doesn’t mean that the music is over. The Jazz Club has a very busy program all year round – one of the special events being this PICNIC.

Here’s what Richard says about the picnic:

The footy is over, Bathhurst soon gone,
The weather terrific, the picnic is on!

It’s a Noosa Institution! Once again the Noosa Jazz Club is proud and excited about our annual Jazz Picnic.

There’ll be two bands: We have a superb line-up again this year featuring afternoon of fun and hot jazz……Jo Bloomfield, Mike Hawthorn, Derek Capewell, and Michael Longhurst.

(Here are some of these musicians who will be playing at the picnic in a different grouping.)

And then the Jazz Factory stalwarts: Ian Denovan (trumpet, cornet, vocals), Paul Williams (trombone, clarinet, tenor sax), Greg Garret(drums), John Withers (banjo), and Richard Stevens (sousaphone). And you never know who will turn up to sit in with the bands… so look out for jam sessions and other diversions along with a day of hot jazz.

(Here the Jazz Factory fellows run wild on one of their regular Tuesday afternoon trips around the Noosa Canals:)

All Welcome, Make sure you invite your friends!
Music from 12 30pm to 4.30pm
You will need your food, a hat, chair, your favorite wine glass and a big smile! Budget bar. No BYO Alcohol.
Jazz Club Members Free! Bring your membership card. Guest tickets $15 available at SHOEX Noosa Junction or ring Patsy (07) 5447 2229

Sunday October 14th Tewantin Tree Farm, Jirrima Crescent Tewantin. For directions check the map.

Here’s a video from an earlier picnic:

And just for fun, and for old times sake, here Derek Capewell plays bass with a band called The Sound of Brass on the ABC program “Dig We Must” in December 1966.