Monthly Archives: November 2012

Last Piano Lunch for 2012: Rosstown regular program

Michael Llewellyn: one of the new breed

THIS coming Thursday – November 29 – will herald the final Rosstown Piano Lunch for 2012.

These piano lunches have been held at the Rosstown on the last Thursday (in alternate months starting in January) since 1994, but earlier were held in various other locations. To read more about the history of the lunches, click here..

The original lunches were set up by a group of jazz lovers to listen to that wonderful pianist, Rex Green, who sadly died earlier this year. He was a regular participant in the jazz lunches until shortly before his death.

Rex Green and Graham Coyle taking their bows
in Shepparton, 1952

Here’s a photo from the Victorian Jazz Archive journal, VJZZ No 55 which shows Rex and Graham Coyle performing for the Shepparton Apex Club in 1952.

Starting at midday and going on until about 4.00pm, an array of some of our best jazz pianists wil play for the delight of the diners.

Numbers may range from six to a dozen, depending on which musicians are available on the day. Often on deck are such household names as Graham Coyle, John Adams, Kim Harris, Neville Turner and Ken Cowan, but the new breed of pianists are also represented such as Michael Llewellyn whose picture appears at the top of this column.

Bob Whetstone and Kim Harris

This Thursday, inimitable trumpet player, Bob Whetstone, will be guest star. Here Bob performs at the May piano lunch with Kim Harris.

To book for this very pleasant jazz experience, phone 9571 1033.
The Rosstown is at the corner of Dandenong and Koornang Roads, Carnegie, a short walk from the Carnegie railway station. If driving, there is plenty of on-site parking. Meals are good and good value, the staff pleasant, and you’re bound to see people you know.

“Avalon” and ‘E Lucevan Le Stelle”

LAST Sunday we were at the Riverwalk Hotel (again) to hear Ian Smith’s Trio play and sing some good old jazz, and anything else the patrons may request.

We usually take along our “Bible of Jazz Words” to refresh our memories on some of the words. This time we decided to work through the alphabet for our quota of requests, and out of the “A’s” we chose “Avalon”.

Here the Trio comprising Ian Smith on cornet, Willie Purcell on guitar and Hermann Schwaiger on bass mess about delightfully with this jazz classic! It was late in the day so they weren’t taking themselves too seriously, but I think it’s brilliant.

Now, not only does the “Bible” contain the words of hundreds of jazz standards, it also includes composer, lyricist, and often the disc from which the words were transcribed, any films the tune may have featured in, and occasionally some note of interest about the song.

We found that “Avalon” was a popular song written by Al Jolson, Buddy DeSylva and Vincent Rose in 1920. It was introduced by Jolson and his recording rose to number two on the charts in 1921.

The song was possibly written by Rose, but Jolson’s popularity as a performer allowed him to claim composer co-credit. It became a popular jazz standard, and has been recorded by many artists, including Cab Calloway, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie Durham and Nat King Cole amongst others.

The Benny Goodman Quartet played the song in their famous 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.

But what was even more interesting was that the tune’s opening melody resembles a part of Giacomo Puccini’s aria “E lucevan le stelle”, from the opera “Tosca”. Puccini’s publishers sued the song’s composers in 1921 for use of the melody, and were awarded $25,000 and all subsequent royalties of the song by the court. Here’s a clip of Caruso singing the aria. Al Jolson’s father was a devotee of opera so I suppose it’s possible that Jolson may have heard this recording (Caruso died in 1921; Puccini died in 1924) and the melody remained in his brain subliminally.

The New Sheiks featuring Heather Stewart, PLUS Geoff Bull and The Finer Cuts: a double bill like you never heard before

AT 3 O’CLOCK in the afternoon on Sunday 16 December, The Flying Saucer Club will present a jazz double bill which will blow your mind!

Winners of the 2011 Bell Award for ‘Best Traditional Jazz Album’, Leigh Barker’s New Sheiks are widely recognised as one of the most engaging and entertaining groups currently performing in the Australian jazz scene.  After a massive 12 months performing at venues around the country, the band is putting on one final very special show to round off the year.

With award winning vocalist and violinist Heather Stewart, the horn section of Eamon McNelis and Don Stewart, Stephen Grant on the piano, Leigh on the bass, and Sam Young on the drums, the New Sheiks play with a spontaneity and breadth of repertoire rarely matched in contemporary jazz.

And as if that weren’t enough, they will be joined for the afternoon by the hottest new group to come out of Sydney – Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts.

Led by veteran trumpeter Bull, this group of young upstarts brings incredible new energy and fire to the traditional jazz repertoire.  With Justin Fermino on reeds, Grant Arthur on trombone, Ben Panucci on guitar, Sam Dobson on bass and prodigal pianist Harry Sutherland, they are ready willing and able to fill the dance floor at the drop of a hat.

This very special and very rare double bill is a chance to hear some of the finest young musicians in Australia, and dance off both your shoes (space permitting) on a beautiful December afternoon at the Flying Saucer Club at the Caulfield RSL, 4 St Georges Road, Elsternwick.

Tickets are $29 (plus 30c booking fee) for reserved seats, $22 (plus 30c booking fee) for general admission (standing room, no allocated seats), or $25 at the door. 9528 3600. Website:

Doors open from 3.00pm to 6.00pm. Music starts 3.30pm

I suggest you book early and for a reserved seat as there’s bound to be a great crush of folks rushing to hear these two great bands.

Here Geoff Bull and The Finer Cuts play and sing “True” – one of my favourite tunes performed beautifully – during a recording session for their first CD.

The New Sheiks have a new CD out with the title, “The Sales Tax”, but believe me it’s much more beguiling than the title would suggest! Here is a brief clip of the band playing and Heather Stewart singing “Lazy Lazy River” from this CD.

Visit the websites of these two great bands to keep up to date on their doings:
The New Sheiks
Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts

Crescent City Serenaders come to Mornington by the Sea

BARRY Wratten’s poster says it all!    Barry’s wizrdry on clarinet, informed by years spent playing in the Crescent City itself and elsewhere, have made him an undisputed master of the New Orleans style of jazz. His knowledge of the genre is also phenomenal.

On Sunday he will be supported by a cast of these fine musicians – Michael McQuaid on trumpet, Richard Mander on bass and sousaphone, Peter Baylor on banjo & guitar, and Lynn Wallis, that master of New Orleans drumming.

The clarinet on the poster above is the same model, (an American made Harry Pedler, silver plated Albert System clarinet), on which George Lewis first recorded his “Burgundy Street Blues” for William Russell in July 1944.

Also on the poster is a Voodoo good luck doll. (I sleep with a Guatemalan Worry Doll under my pillow, and often wear a Navajo ghost necklace of juniper seeds, so I’m prepared to believe that the Voodoo doll is just as efficacious!)

This should be an afternoon of beautiful jazz played by musicians who have the technique, the understanding and the passion to bring it all together for themselves and for the lucky listeners.

Corner of Burgundy and St Philip Streets, New Orleans (photo: Barry Wratten)

Bob Barnard’s Jazz Scrapbook: perfect present for jazz lover

CHRISTMAS is coming and the goose is getting fat (although I must confess that in my long and eerie life I’ve never had goose for Christmas). Anyhow it’s time to start thinking about the perfect present for that special person in your life.

If that person is a jazz lover, here’s a suggestion for a great stocking stuffer: BOB BARNARD’S JAZZ SCRAPBOOK compiled by Bob with his daughter Loretta.

Musically, Bob’s been everywhere, played at every jazz festival, and with great musicians near and far. And lucky for us, he’s saved photographs, programs, tickets, newspaper articles and other ephemera from his illustrious career which less perceptive folk might have thrown away. These have been sorted and linked together with lively text to tell the story of a life full of the joy of jazz.

The book is in five sections:
The Early Years
The Bands, The Leaders, The Music
My Band and More…
The Trumpet Players
Going Solo

… and some stuff from the Barnard Family archive for good measure.

The blurb says that there are over 375 pictures in 200 pages, covering Bob’s beginnings to the present. Here’s some of the beginnings!

The Original Alfrey Street Stompers 1952.
Ross Fusedale, Len, Bob, Tony Standish and Warwick Dyer.

Bob with Turk Murphy at the 33rd Jazz Convention in Adelaide in 1978

Think of an Australian, American or European jazz musician and they are likely to be represented in this entertaining book.

It would be ideal for post Christmas dinner reminiscing, for bedtime reading, for getting out when your neighbour insists on showing the latest pics of their grandchildren, or for sharing with jazz friends over a glass of red or whatever you fancy.

Cost from the Victorian Jazz Archive is $39.95 plus $5 packing and postage, or collect from the Archive, Koomba Park, 15 Mountain Highway, Wantirna on Tuesday or Friday between 9.00am and 3.00pm.

Telephone: 9800 5535
Postal address: PO Box 6007, Wantirna Mall. VIC 3152

And while you’re at it, there’s a good representation of Bob and Len Barnard recordings in the Archive shop which would make a fantastic present perfect! Check the shop catalogue on

To continue the Christmas theme, here’s Bob in Proserpine with a camel (off page). Click on the picture and listen to the Bob Barnard Quartet playing “Blue Christmas”.

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Vale Ian Pearce: another great jazzman dies

Ian Pearce
(from Bruce Johnson’s “Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz”)

Born Hobart 22 November 1921
Died Hobart 8 November 2012

Another iconic figure in Australian jazz has died. Legendary Tasmanian jazz musican, Ian Pearce died in the Royal Hobart Hospital on 8 November 2012 a few days short of his 91st birthday.

During a career spanning more than seven decades, Ian Pearce’s contribution to Tasmanian and Australian jazz is recognised by the many musicians who played with him, or were mentored or assisted by him, and by the audiences who delighted in his playing. It was also recognised through the award of Member of the Order of Australia in 1995 for service to jazz music.

Tom Pickering as a lad

Ian  studied piano as a child,  but discovered jazz through records and the radio in the mid 1930s  with his brother Cedric (who played drums)  and neighbour Tom Pickering  (clarinet).  He took up trumpet in 1936 and the quartet formed the Barrelhouse  Four with pianist Rex Green.   This group produced its first record in 1946, and with several name and personnel changes went on to record  further albums, play at countless concerts and dances, as well as regularly play for ABC broadcasts.

The Barrelhouse Four: Tom Pickering, tenor sax; Rex Green, piano; Ian Pearce, trumpet: and Michael Maxwell depping for Ced Pearce on drums. Note Ced’s caricature on the drum. (from “Black Roots White Flowers” by Andrew Bisset)

After Army service the group resumed playing in 1946.   In 1947 Ian moved to Melbourne to study at the conservatorium, became a member of the local jazz scene and swapped trumpet for trombone. He worked with the Tony Newstead and the  Bell bands as needed, and recorded with the Bells in 1948.  

In September 1949 Tom Pickering’s Good Time Music recorded “Doctor Blues“. Lineup was; Col Wells, trumpet; Ian Pearce, trombone; Tom Pickering, clarinet & tenor sax; Keith Stackhouse, piano; Geoff Sweeney, guitar; Ced Pearce, drums. Click on the song title to hear this track.

In 1950, like many other young musicians, he sailed for the UK, where he worked with various bands, including Mick Mulligan’s  Magnolia Jazz Band of colourful repute.  (see George Melly’s autobiography of the period, Owning Up.) 

Returning to Hobart in 1955, Ian was reunited with Tom Pickering and co-led the Pearce-Pickering band (1956-mid 90s).  A  series of CDs, published by Swaggie Records and available from the Victorian Jazz Archive shop, records the output of this collaboration.

During this period he was involved with various Australian Jazz Convention and other jazz committees, became a mentor to young musicians and recorded regularly.

When not involved in jazz, Cedric and Ian took over another Tasmanian icon, Fullers Bookshop, which they ran from 1961 to 1980 when Cedric’s ill health forced them to give up the enterprise.

Ian remained musically active into his 90th  year providing joy to himself, his fellow musicians and the jazz public.

Here he celebrates his 80th birthday at Wrest Point Casino, Hobart with his
quartet, (consisting of Ian on piano, Paul Martin on reeds, Ken Martin on Bass and vocals and Michael Colrain on drums and vocals).

HIS 90th birthday party was a great occasion with guest musicians including, amongst others, Bob Barnard and Paul Furniss flying in to perform with Ian in a concert at the University of Tasmania’s Stanley Burbury Theatre. The concert was of course sold out.

Throughout his 70-plus years as a musician, he entertained nationally and internationally. To those who knew him, he was truly a gentleman who was dearly loved and admired. Farewell Ian Pearce. A life well-lived!

The funeral will be held on Thursday 15th November at 3pm at Turnbulls Funeral Home, Letitia St, North Hobart. Messages may be sent by email to

(Thanks to Bill Haesler for providing some of the text for this piece)

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Nichaud Fitzgibbon tribute to Peggy Lee @ The Flying Saucer

A Tribute to Peggy Lee

SULTRY songstress, Nichaud Fitzgibbon, is the perfect artist to pay tribute to the ineffable Miss Peggy Lee – vocally, in looks and in style.

The Flying Saucer Club, 4 St Georges Road, Elsternwick (Caulfield RSL) will present a special show, Nichaud Fitzgibbon in A Tribute to Peggy Lee: “You Give Me Fever”, on SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER.

Nichaud Fitzgibbon

Nichaud will be backed by her Swingtet: a great lineup of Mr Goodvibe himself, Andy Swann, on drums, James Clark on bass, Luke Howard on piano, Craig Fermanis on guitar, plus 3 horns.

Nichaud is always a great drawcard. Combine her with the Peggy Lee songbook and you’ve got a sell-out night, so book early!!

The show starts at 8.30pm. Tickets are available from the Flying Saucer website: or telephone 9528 3600. Doors open at 7.00pm and food is available.

Every Girl Needs a Workroom: “Spats” Langham in the lucky dip

My un-Workroom

I HAVE a workroom – or rather an un-workroom. It hasn’t been used as such since those happy days when I studied fine woodwork and furniture making with my guru, the miraculous designer-maker, John Diorietes at Xylon School of Woodcraft in Riversdale Road, Hawthorn.

John Diorietes and some students

That’s been several years now, and most of my good tools, books and other woodwork stuff have gone to other homes, and the room has become that well-known storer of things too good to be thrown away, but not immediately useful or in working order.

My good intentions to clear it out and send most of the “treasures” to the Op Shop have been put aside while other more interesting or more pressing jobs have been dealt with. But last Monday, I finally made a tentative beginning …and found all sorts of things that had been lost for eons, and one or two that I had forgotten altogether.

One of these was a CD by Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham and his Hot Combination – “The Night Owl” which I must have bought at the wonderful Litton/Langham concert at the Abbotsford Convent, organised by Jason Downes Entertainments in November 2009. The CD was in my woodwork bag so I must have taken it to class for the entertainment of my fellow “chippies”, and then put the bag away and promptly forgot it. What a waste of 3 years of potential happy listening.

“Spats” (born 1971) plays ukulele, banjo and guitar with enormous skill. At the time of the Convent concert I was editing the Victorian Jazz Club’s newsletter “Jazzbeat” and said about “Spats”:

Thomas “Spats” Langham is a master of several stringed instruments, but on this occasion played only banjo and guitar; and produced sounds and rhythms like no other player I’ve ever heard. In addition he did most of the vocals in a very pleasant tenor reminiscent of Al Bowlly, and was front man introducing the tunes and tales.

“Spats” is another of what seems to be a growing group of musos who looks for inspiration to the 20s and 30s. In the liner notes for this CD he says:

“Spats” Langham

Our first album “The Hottest Man in Town” met great acclaim, causing one critic to cite me as “eccentrically vintage”. I don’t know about eccentric, but vintage sums up what I am about. I understand that tunes move on, that progress is a great thing, and that microwave ovens can cook a meal in three minutes, but I’m just not interested in it all. It’s pre-war stuff I like

One of the first 78s he ever bought in a junk shop was Jack Hylton’s Orchestra playing “Shepherd of the Hills”. Legend has it that the song was composed in 1927 by Horatio Nicholls on board an ocean liner en route to the US, and that it was relayed to Hylton via the new Transatlantic Telephone Service. To my untutored ear I hear phrases from “Ciri Biri Bin” and “Baby Face”, but then it’s hard to write something completely new, and it’s an engaging piece. Click on the song title to hear the Langham version which is the final track on this CD. If you’re interested in getting a copy of this, or other Langham CDs, you might try the Victorian Jazz Archive shop on 03 9880 5535 on a Tuesday or Friday, or online at

Date and Washingmachine get together @ Queenscliff

Ian Date and George Washingmachine

Diana Allen of Jazz Australia announces a great jazz reunion which will take place at the Uniting Church, Queenscliff on Sunday,  11 November.

Celebrated jazz violinist George Washingmachine will reunite with his long time musical collaborator, the great jazz guitarist Ian Date.  These two popular musicians had a high profile in partnership at jazz festivals throughout Australia, Europe and Asia for many years, and made regular appearances on the Ray Martin Show . Following Ian’s migration to County Cork, Ireland in 2002, this collaboration came to an end.  Since then the two musicians meet rarely, so this will be a joyous occasion.

Here a youthful George and Ian play “I’ll See You In My Dreams” supported by Tony Burkeys on rhythm guitar and Natalie Morrison on bass sometime in the early 1990s.

On November 11 when George flies in from Sydney to join Ian Date and his brother Nigel on second guitar, along with the great Melbourne bassist Howard Cairns, it will be a ‘hot time in the old town tonight’!  There will be plenty of hot gypsy music in the Django Reinhardt/Stephan Grappelli style a la the famous Quintet of the Hot Club of France, along with a little swing and their great classic jazz repertoire.

On one of the few more recent occasions that these two talented musicians have played together, here the same lineup as you will hear on 11 November plays at the 2007 OzManouche Festival in Brisbane. “I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” is the tune, recorded for the first time by Django Reinardt in 1939.

This will be the last Jazz Australia event for 2012, and a lovely way to wrap up another successful jazz year.

Show time is 5.30pm for 6pm. Tickets are $50 which includes delicious finger food. Drinks at below bar prices will be available. Payment by cheque or bank transfer to CBA Hawthorn. BSB 063 138. Account No. 1001 3193
Telephone Diana Allen, Jazz Australia for bookings: 5258 3936.

New Nolte CD launch @ The Pinnacle

ANDREW Nolte, the tall and dapper leader of his eponymous orchestra, invites you all to attend the launch of the band’s new CD – ECCENTRIC – at the Pinnacle, North Fitzroy next Saturday afternoon.

Andrew in full regalia

Andrew and his band recreate the sounds and excitement of the dance tunes of the 1920s in that wonderful period after the First World War when so many of the social restrictions of pre-war times were loosened – in fashion, manners and of course in music and dance.

Andrew assures us that there has not been a CD like this to come out from any band for the past 5 years. Truth! So make your way to the Pinnacle on Saturday and see if he’s right!