Monthly Archives: January 2013

Legendary Blues Express @ Dogs Bar

ASH Gaudion reminds us of an opportunity to hear Peter Gaudion’s “legendary” Blues Express at Dogs Bar, 54 Acland Street. St Kilda on Sunday 3 February from 9pm. Ph: 8534 3020.

Blues Express shares the Sunday night spot with Steve Purcell’s Pearly Shells and Phoebe and the Night Creatures, so you can be assured of good music no matter which night you go, but you may want to check beforehand if you have a preference.

Peter Gaudion’s Blues Express certainly is legendary for a number of reasons, not the least being its current and past lineups.

For this gig, the lineup will be:
Peter Gaudion (trumpet/vocals)
Ash Gaudion (sax/vocals)
Bob Sedergreen (Piano)
James Clark (Bass)
Andy Swann (Drums/vocals)

But if age helps make legends, this band has a lot going for it. (Possibly it’s older than Ash himself?)

Peter Gaudion formed Blues Express in about 1979 when he left Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers. The stable lineup at that time was Peter on trumpet, Richard Miller (sax), Mal Wilkinson (trombone), Derek Capewell (bass), Allan Browne (drums), and Vic Connor on piano followed by Bob Sedergreen.

For a piece of trivia, I’ve just been reading some back issues of Australian jazz magazines one of which was the first issue of JAZZ: the Australasian contemporary music magazine dated January/February 1981. In it I found reviews of three albums all released by Blues Express in 1980: BLUES EXPRESS on Jazznote, ONAJE’S RAGE on East, and SPOON IN AUSTRALIA: Jimmy Witherspoon with Peter Gaudion’s Blues Express on Jazzis.

Here’s a picture from that magazine of Peter Gaudion and Jimmy Witherspoon during the famous blues singer’s visit to Australia in April 1980.

To quote from the Mike Williams’ review of the Witherspoon/Blues Express recording (which sadly I haven’t heard):

Every member of the band knows exactly what to do. Gaudion’s accompanying trumpet and Sedergreen’s perfectly sympathetic piano give us one of the best versions of Witherspoon’s much recorded “Nobody’s Business”. Brief and classic – really masterful blues playing.

The Syncopators and The Spiegeltent: an unbeatable combination

THE Famous Spiegeltent returns to Melbourne’s Art Centre forecourt this summer, and whilst every performance in the ‘Tent is a magic happening, one which will appeal particularly to jazz devotees is The Syncopators’ gig on Sunday 10 March.

The Syncopators

Chris Ludowyk, founder of The Syncopators (that’s Chris back row left with the trombone) alerted me to his band’s performance. He says it will cater for those who want to listen and also for those who want to dance. Dressing up in 20s/30s gear is encouraged to add visual atmosphere to what should be a swinging session.

Without doubt “The Syncs” will present their usual polished, professional and exciting music which has made them one of – if not the – best Australian band currently playing classic jazz. They will be performing at 9pm. Bookings online at Look under LIVE MUSIC.

And to remind us just how good they are, here The Syncopators wow them in Stuttgart with “Now You Has Jazz” on one of the band’s many overseas tours. They have another tour coming up mid-year, and Chris tells me there will probably be a going-away concert, so look out for that one.

The Spiegeltent program has many other delights. I noticed the following in a quick glance through the calendar:

Nina Ferro: Thursday 7 February at 11pm
Nina – with her luxuriant voice, stage presence and ability to interpret a song – has made her way in the overseas music scene, with an established reputation in the US and in the UK where she is currently based. This is another opportunity to hear Nina perform in Melbourne during a brief home visit. The format is a supper club setting which suits Nina’s current style superbly, although you may still occasionally hear her doing justice to some classic jazz with the Jim Cullum band at the Landing on San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk.

Julie O’Hara with Ultrafox: Wednesday & Thursday 13 and 14 March at 11pm
Julie O’Hara is another outstanding singer whose perfect pitch, silken tone and ability to handle many different styles have ensured her appreciative audiences nationally and internationally, both in live performances and on her recordings. For this gig she sings with one of my favourite bands, Peter Baylor’s gypsy swing band, Ultrafox. This will be another supper club setup – a modern reincarnation of a 30s speakeasy with candle lit tables, delicious tasty treats and presumably legit. drinks to go with them.

Tuba Skinny in New Orleans

Tuba Skinny: Friday 15 March (11pm) and Sunday 17 March (9pm)
This exciting New Orleans street band is back in Australia after a brief trip last year. This time they’ll be here for 5 weeks from 22 February to 24 March. Unfortunately only in Melbourne at the Spiegeltent for two performances, though I see they will also be at the Port Fairy Folk Festival for the March long weekend, and the Castlemaine Festival on 16 March. Formed in 2009, Tuba Skinny has steadily evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into a solid ensemble dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Drawing on a wide range of musical influences — from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz — their sound evokes the rich musical heritage of their New Orleans home. The band has gained a loyal following through their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their barnstorming live performances. Their appeal is universal across all ages and backgrounds for their sheer exuberance, talent and belief in what they’re doing. Here they play -and Erika Lewis sings – that Bessie Smith classic “You Gotta Give Me Some”. Bring on more Skinnies!

Bookings for these and all other Spiegeltent delights can be made online at

Australian Jazz Convention 2013: a rescue mission

THE 67th Australian Jazz Convention was held in the former gold-mining town of Forbes, New South Wales on the banks of the Lachlan River (population about 7,000) between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve 2012. This is the fifth time that the Convention has been held in this small town 380 km (240 miles) west of Sydney, and without doubt they know how to run a good Convention! This is a Convention record for any country town in Australia.

But unlike in previous years, no city, town or hamlet came forward to claim the privilege of presenting the next Convention. There were real fears that this legendary event on the Australian jazz calendar might have reached its use-by date. The Convention Steering Committee was dissolved. It was a bit like no nation wanting the Olympic Games!

Then a group of stalwart jazz musicians and supporters offered themselves as a rescue mission – to find a suitable location, raise funds, organise promotion, and do all those other things which normally have a two year lead-in time.

The group – currently a Task Force – comprises Rod Andrew, Ken Hill, Chis Gildersleeve, Harvey Duff, Reg Packer, and Don and Margaret Anderson.

A number of locations have been investigated and I understand we can expect an announcement some time next month. You can check the Australian Jazz Convention website for news, and I’ll let you know as soon as I have anything further to report.

Most of you have probably already seen this wonderful clip by Stefan Sargent from the 14th AJC in Cootamundra in 1959 when the world was young.

And a bit more sedate – at the Bundaberg Convention No. 66 in 2011 – but the enjoyment for musicians and delegates is still the same.

Jazz Piano back @ The Rosstown in 2013

THE NEW YEAR starts, and with it the return of the bi-monthly piano lunches at the Rosstown Hotel on the corner of Dandenong and Koornang Roads, Carnegie. Bookings: 9571 1033. Enquiries: Marina Pollard 9781 4972.

This is the 19th year that the Rosstown has hosted these piano events (beginning in 1994, although the original lunches stretch back to 1987, when they were held in various locations). At the Rosstown they are held on the last Thursday of the month, in alternate months starting in January.   If that’s all too hard to cope with, here are the dates for the 2013 series:
January 31
March 28
May 30
July 25
September 26
November 28

On Thursday January 31 from midday until about 4.00pm you can be entertained by a group of Melbourne’s top jazz pianists which may include on any given day, John Adams, Graham Coyle, Kim Harris, Keith Stevens, Neville Turner, Michael Llewellyn, Jo Abbott, Ron Anderson, Jeff Bartrum and Kathy Connor.

Here’s the legendary Graham Coyle playing on a cold winter’s day last year.

A guest musician often accompanies the pianists. On 31 January the guest will be well-known trumpeter, Graeme Steel.

Graeme has been on the Melbourne jazz scene for over 50 years. He has worked with many of the top players, and has earned a reputation as one of the more reliable jazz players, equally at home in Modern, Mainstream, Dixie and Traditional styles. He is a popular choice as a backing player to singers Pippa Wilson, Anita Harris, Patsy O’Neill and Beverley Sheehan.

See Graeme in an uncommon pose – on Puffing Billy – with Mike Edwards, Noel Dollman and Neil Taylor as the Mast Gully Quartet which plays jazz for diners on the historic steam train 4 times a year. If you are interested in a unique experience – jazz, dining and scenery – visit the Puffing Billy site. The first dining journey for 2013 is on Friday 15 March.

The Mast Gully Quartet on Puffing Billy

And while we’re in a piano mood, a way to hear some of Australia’s jazz piano greats all together in one place, you can’t go wrong with the Victorian Jazz Archive’s 2 CD set, “The Pianists: a showcase of Melbourne’s Jazz Pianists, 1993”. The genesis of this set was a marathon recording session in August 1993 organised as a fundraiser for The Victorian Jazz Musicians’ Benefit Fund. Fourteen of Melbourne’s top pianists – Stephen Grant, Ben Johnston, Rex Green, Bob Sedergreen, Doug Rawson, Graham Coyle, John Adams, Kim Harris, Margie Lou Dyer, Frank Gow, Stan Spragg, Merle Phillips, Frank Milne and Dave Eggleton – played tunes of their own choice. Sadly several of these musicians are no longer with us.

The 40 tracks on this set are a permanent tribute to the talents and various styles of some of our best piano men and women. You can order online from the VJA website, or by phone on Tuesday or Friday, 9800 5535 or by email.

The Pearly Shells in January

Friday 11th they’ll be at The Bendigo Botanic Gardens, Scott Street, White Hills as part of Bendigo’s Music in the Park program. Free entry. Music from 7pm -9pm
Saturday 12th they’ll be at the Transit Cocktail Lounge, Level 2, Transport Hotel, Fed Square, corner Swanston & Flinders Streets. 9.30pm-12.30am. 9654 8808
Sunday 13th at the Dogs Bar, 54 Acland Street, St Kilda. 9pm-11pm. 8534 3020
Saturday 26th they’ll be starring with the big band & featuring Yvette Johansson, at the Victorian Jazz Club, 163 Carinish Road, Clayton. 8pm-11pm. 9553 3850.
Sunday 27th: A duo from the band will be at Goonawara winery, 19/25 Anderson Road, Sunbury. (10 minutes from Melbourne airport) 12.30pm- 3.30pm. 8534 3020
Sunday 27th: And later that evening, back at the Dogs Bar, 54 Acland Street, St Kilda from 9pm-11pm

To keep up to date on Pearly Shells doings, you can look at their Facebook page:

And here they do their thing with “Hey Good Looking”. That’s Steve Purcell on vocals. Who was it said you can’t play bass and sing at the same time?

A Hat Trick for Australian jazz

HAVE you ever noticed how things tend to go in threes? There is probably no real mathematical or magical basis for this phenomenon, if in fact it exists at all. We may not notice one occurrence of something, two may be a coincidence, but by the third time around, we begin to see a pattern.

Well however you explain it, for me 2013 has begun with a hat trick of things to do with Australian jazz compositions:

The first began with an idle thought on New Year’s Eve. When casting around for a resolution which I might enjoy keeping I came up with idea of dusting off a list of Australian jazz compositions which I had begun to make several years ago. Since 1 January I’ve added 333 (those 3s again!) titles to the list and attached it to this blog. You can find it from the menu at the top of the page – just click on Australian Jazz Compositions. It’s a work in progress and will be added to regularly. If you find any mistakes, have any additions, please let me know at and I’ll be delighted to incorporate them so that eventually the list may become a useful resource for those with an interest in Australian jazz.

Tim Nikolsky

I discovered the second when Alex Hutchinson (in response to my request for help in compiling the above List) told me about a much more significant project approaching its completion. Tim Nikolsky, a local (Melbourne) jazz guitarist, has been working on an Australian Jazz Real Book  for his PhD, and I understand from Tim that the work, now in its 4th draft, is at the printer at this very moment. To learn more about the project and the thinking behind it, you can read an interview with Tim (“Tim Nikolsky: Getting Real Down Under”) by Ian Patterson of the Philadelphia-based jazz website, All About Jazz published in May 2011. Amongst other things, Tim explains his reasons for his choice of titles to be included in what he hopes will be Volume 1 of a series. Not everyone will agree with his choices but that’s life, particularly in the world of jazz.

Dr Nick Ribush

The third in this trio of coincidences came to me via Mel Blachford of that great institution, the Victorian Jazz Archive. It concerns Dr. Nicholas Ribush, who completed medical studies at the University of Melbourne in 1964 and along the way played piano in the Melbourne University Jazz Band. A decade later he was introduced to Buddhism and was one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A large part of his life has been spent in publishing, writing and disseminating Buddhist teachings in Boston, Massachusetts, but he has never lost his passion for jazz.

The local public library in Lincoln, a suburb of Boston where Nick now lives, has run a monthly “classic” jazz appreciation group for the past 26 years. In January 2013 Nick will host a program on “Australian Jazz: the Melbourne Sound; the first forty years” which will be illustrated with a DVD made from images and sound recordings provided by the Victorian Jazz Archive. Watch this wonderful hour-long video which begins in 1947 with Graeme Bell and “Czechoslovak Journey” and ends in 1984 with Neville Stribling and the Sacramento Connection playing “Ragtime Dance”.

And we’re only 10 days into 2013! Let’s hope and trust that the remaining 355 days pan out as well.