Monthly Archives: February 2013

Judy Carmichael’s Australian visit

JUDY Carmichael, one of the world’s leading interpreters of stride and swing piano, is making another of her very welcome visits to Australia, this time under the auspices of the US State Department’s celebrations of International Women’s Day.

Judy’s first stop was on Saturday 23 February at Burnie, Tasmania where she ran a workshop for “an impressive group of intelligent and engaged students”, and in the evening gave a performance in the High School’s Performing Arts Centre. Someone at this school must be on the ball – the UK band The Dixie Ticklers did a similar gig there in October last year (2012).

Judy with Burnie High School students

The rest of this whirlwind tour sees Judy in Brisbane (27-28 February), Adelaide (1-3 March) and Canberra (4-5 March) at venues “to be advised”. She then has two public performances in Melbourne on Thursday and Friday, 7 & 8 March at Bennetts Lane, 25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne. 8.30pm. $28. Book online

She will be performing with UK guitarist Sam Dunn.

Sam Dunn

“Sam Dunn is a wonderful musician on all levels. He has a wide, interesting repertoire, beautiful sound, and is equally compelling with ballads and burners. And with his fast ears and quick wit, he’s great fun on the bandstand” Judy Carmichael

As well as a busy life as a performer Judy also hosts and produces her own weekly radio show Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired which is broadcast on 170 Public Radio stations across the United States. Celebrated artists discuss their creative process and how their passion for jazz has inspired their work. They share their favorite recordings with the listener as well as insight into their life and art. We can listen to it here in Australia via SiriusXM Channel 122 Click here.

Another outstanding guitarist who in the past has joined Judy Carmichael on the world stage is American guitarist James Chirillo. Here Chirillo plays with The Judy Carmichael Trio at the “I Love Jazz” Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2009. The third arm (leg?) of the trio on that occasion was saxophonist Harry Allen.

And finally,to demonstrate how everything is connected to everything else eventually, here’s a clip of James Chirillo playing with The Earregulars at The Ear Inn, a jazz-friendly restaurant at 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City. Bria Skonberg, fabulous trumpeter who sometimes plays with Baby Soda, a street band which I did post about a few weeks ago is part of the group. This video is by Michael Steinman, of Jazz Lives. May 2012

Tony Plantagenet Orr: who do you think you are?

I OPENED my daily paper recently and was intrigued by the story from Leicester, UK of the finding of the skeleton of the much-maligned Richard III under a Council car park.

Since reading the wonderful novel – “The Daugher of Time” by Josephine Tey – which argues for a revision of the Shakespearian image of Richard, I have been a ricardian, convinced that the king was the victim of history being rewritten for the benefit of those who came after.

But what struck me most forcibly in the article was the resemblance between Richard and well known gutarist/banjoist Tony Orr. I can even visualise a banjo in the royal fist!

Perhaps a case could be made for a new Young Pretender. If they could trace a descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter to Canada, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a Richard off-shoot in Australia.


Below is another photo, this time showing the Orr-Plantagenet profile, with Alan Stott on sousaphone.

Murray Bridge Festival into its second year

IN 2012 a new jazz festival – the Murray Bridge Jazz Festival in South Australia – appeared on the jazz calendar. Click here to see what Jazz Ramble said about it.

Well it’s on again in 2013. The founding festival must have been a success because the event has grown from its initial one day to three which makes it much more attractive to visitors from interstate. So pencil a note in your diaries for holiday planning. The weather should be pleasant in October – low to mid 20s – and there are lots of other attractions in this part of South Australia to build on before and after the event.

For further information contact Lenny Eames.

A Surfeit of Riches: Jazz Choices this Weekend

THIS coming weekend – 23 and 24 February 2013 – there seem to be more jazz choices than usual in and around Melbourne, and that’s not including the regular gigs which have to be factored into the equation.

One of the least publicised, and in my view most enjoyable jazz festivals is on this weekend: The Eltham Jazz, Food and Wine Festival runs from midday until 9.30pm on Saturday the 23rd and until 5.30pm on Sunday 24th. I suppose you could call it a boutique festival with all performances on two Stages in the middle of the shopping centre in Main Street, Eltham opposite the the Railway Station. It’s free, no bookings required, and the delights include The Allan Browne Quintet, Cairo Club Orchestra, Bop Kick with Julie O’Hara, B# Big Band, and The Syncopators. as well as lots of choices for blues lovers.

New Orleans Pelicans Brass Band at the Festival in 2012

A very special highlight of the Festival is the traditional street march by Barry Wratten’s New Orleans Pelicans Brass Band accompanied by Amelia the stilt walker on Sunday morning at 11.30 followed by a performance on Stage I until 1.15pm when The Melbourne Gospel Singers will take over. Click here for a full programme with times.

Saturday 23 February Grumpy’s Green – 125 Smith Street, Fitzroy:
In lieu of John Scurry’s Virus which has the regular Saturday afternoon spot at Grumpy’s, “Jason Downes and Friends” will be playing. Jason will be joined by Leigh Barker, Matt Boden (Tasmanian born pianist now living in Paris) and Marc Meader (Netherlands) on drums for a fun afternoon of jazz. The session will run from 3.00-5.00pm (earlier than normal). Phone: 9416 1944
The band will be playing a mix of tunes from the 20s-50s and Jason says sit-ins and stragglers are welcome.

On Sunday 24 February Smithys Scallywags: featuring Danni Smith on vocals will be playing at the Bentleigh Club, Yawla Street, Bentleigh. Our great Melbourne jazz treasure Ian Smith has put together a wondrous show to celebrate the release of his new CD of tracks recorded over several years, some of which feature daughter Danni. He has invited all the musicians who are on this CD to take part on Sunday to help launch it. The 9 piece all-star line-up will not all be playing at once, but in a variety of combinations during the afternoon, so this will be truly a jazz extravaganza. Danni is flying down from Byron Bay to be part of the shindig. So if you’re free on Sunday afternoon, (or even if you had something else planned), this will be an event seriously to be considered. (Please note how I avoided a split infinitive there! My English teacher would have been proud.) A delicious two course luncheon is included.
There is still time to book with Diana Allen but you need to ring her on 5258 3936 by midday on Friday.

Sunday 24 February @ 4.00pm Montsalvat: Ted Vining Trio CD LAUNCH:
This concert is to celebrate the re-release of Ted Vining Trio’s 1981 Live at PBS FM . By popular demand, Newmarket Music has produced a CD of this sellout Jazznote LP recorded in December of 1981. The performance will be held in the Barn Gallery, Montsalvat, 7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham, and will be in memory of the Trio’s great bass player, Barry Buckley, who died in 2006.

The lineup will be Bob Sedergreen – piano, Gareth Hill – bass, Ted Vining – drums with special Guests: Alan Lee – vibes/percussion and Ian Chaplin – alto saxophone.
The MC wil be: Jim McLeod – presenter of Jazz on Saturday, on PBS , 106.7 FM from 9.00am to 11.00am (not to be confused with the Victorian Jazz Club’s long-running program, Jazz on a Saturday, which goes to air on 3CR, 855AM from 2.00pm to 4.30pm)
Tickets: $20 /$15. Bookings on 9439 7712 or at the door.

Shirazz at Queenscliff:
On Sunday 24 February Matt Dixon and his lads will be heading down to sunny Queenscliff for a jazz picnic in Citizen’s Park, Queenscliff. The Park overlooks Port Phillip Bay and is ideal for a picnic and a relaxing afternoon taking in the sea breezes and your favourite jazz tunes.

Where: Citizen’s Park, Gellibrand Street, Queenscliff
When: Sunday 24 Feb, 12:30 – 3:30pm

Sunday afternoon Feb 24th :
The New Melbourne Jazz Band will be at the Monash Hotel, 2077 Dandenong Road, Clayton, from 1.00 pm-till-4.00 pm. The New Melbourne, under leader Ross Anderson, has been one of our favourite bands for more than half a century, as well as earning an international reputation through its many overseas tours. Special Guest on Clarinet and Vocal will be Kim Rushworth.(drummer Ben Rushworth’s Dad, as if you didn’t know!)
Ross says they are all looking forward to lots of “FUN JAZZ” with Kim and Peter Uppman doing “Scat Vocals” as well as playing your requests. There is no cover charge. For bookings phone 9544 8011.

Eltham Jazz, Food & Wine Festival: a well kept secret

THE ELTHAM Jazz, Food & Wine Festival doesn’t often appear on lists of Australian Jazz Festivals, and I don’t know why. Because it’s a beauty, and all FREE.

Last year (2012) it took place over the weekend of 25 and 26 February, and had a chock-full menu of choices to suit all palates.


So do yourselves a favour and wander out to leafy Eltham for a feast of music.

New Orleans Pelican Brass Band

Shanghai Shuffle @ The Substation Newport

THE Substation at 1 Market Street, Newport is an unusual and exciting venue in Melbourne’s inner southwest.

Built in 1915 for the purpose of converting electricity for the suburban rail system, the Newport Substation fell into disrepair after ceasing operations in 1967. By the 1990s it had become derelict, the victim of vandals and squatters. Nevertheless it remained an impressive building which inspired two local residents – Nigel Edwards and Darren Williams – to develop the idea of restoring it as a community arts space with gallery, performance, concert and function facilities.

It took fifteen years and lots of hard work by a small band of volunteers, but this is how the old girl looks now.

On Saturday 16 February the Substation will become Swingstation when those two swinging bands, The Shuffle Club and Leigh Barker’s New Sheiks will be on deck to welcome in the Year of the Snake with Shanghai Shuffle which promises to be a night of “dance and decadence”, better than a slow boat to China the publicity says.

The Shuffle Club

The New Sheiks

In the 1920s and 30s Shanghai was known as ‘The Paris of The East’. Jazz was king and sophisticates flocked to the Peace Hotel and Metropole Club to hear the music and show off the latest dance steps.
There will be dumplings (available from the Yum Cha van from 6.30pm.). As advertised, there will be dancing. There might even be a dragon.

This is a chance to hear some really vibrant jazz – jazz for dancing – and experience this magnificent heritage building in its new finery.

Doors Open at 7.30.
Tickets $25 online at, $30 at the door
Further information: 9391 1110

More Spiegeltenting! Melbourne and Canberra

THE Spiegeltent saga continues to unfold, both in Melbourne and in Canberra.

The Shuffle Club
Those wildfires on the Melbourne music circuit – and elsewehere – The Shuffle Club, are doing what comes naturally to them: playing vibrant, exciting, full-blown music at a hectic pace and at all hours of the day and night.

This small group with the big group sound (Ash Gaudion, Rod Gilbert, Dannie Bourne and Paul Griska) will be a fixture at the Famous Spiegeltent in the Arts Centre forecourt, Melbourne every Friday and Saturday night (well actually Saturday and Sunday morning, but let’s not confuse the issue) from Friday 15 February until the end of March, and possibly until the end of the Tent’s Melbourne season on the 21 April.  They will play following a changing lineup of acts which will begin at 11.00pm.  The Shuffle Club will follow from 12.30am – 2.30am (yes am!). Tickets from $25. Phone bookings at 1300 182 183 or to book online – Look under “Club Spiegel”

Madam Pat Thompson
The tribute, documentary film, concert and wake for Madam Pat Thompson will be held in Canberra in the Famous Spiegel Garden, The Rose Gardens at Old Parliament House on Sunday 17 March at 6.00pm. Tickets $20. Book online:

The Syncopators
A reminder that The Syncopators will be on stage in the Famous Spiegeltent on Sunday 10 March at 9.00pm. This will be a programme for dancers as well as listeners with The Syncs playing classics from the 1920s to the 50s transforming the Tent into a classy speakeasy without a raid by Eliott Ness and his crew! Wear your party gear to add to the festive atmosphere. From their vast repertoire, the Syncopators will concentrate on playing toe-tapping tunes from the Flapper, Speakeasy and Charleston era, through the Swing Scene of the 30’s and 40’s to the jump-jive beat of the late 40’s and 50’s – truly a great night of first class music for all. Tickets from $25. Phone bookings at 1300 182 183 or to book on line

The Syncopators will be holding a bon voyage concert in May prior to their next overseas tour. Watch out for this.

Australian Jazz Convention no. 68 – Onya Goulburn!

Goulburn City Centre

JUST heard that the 68th Australian Jazz Convention will be held in Goulburn, NSW. ONYA (Australian for “Good On You”) Goulburn and the Convention Task Force who have been able to ensure that there will be a 2013 Convention, and that this venerable institution has survived for another year.

This is the second Goulburn Convention: the previous one in 2007 was a great event very ably managed by staff from the local Council with a large gang of volunteer helpers. This time it will be the new Task Force which will be doing the hard yards with lots of help on the ground at Goulburn and from the Convention movement itself.

The Convention Task Force is made up of:
Ken Hill, Chairperson/Programming
Chris Gildersleeve , Registrar
Rod Andrew, Marketing
Reg Packer, Finance (co-opted after meeting)
Harvey Duff, Original Tunes Competition
Don Anderson, Archives
Margaret Anderson, Archives

The dates will of course be Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve 2013.

And a chance to see the famous Big Merino!

Baby Soda: and Yes, Bria is a girl!

IT’S Tuesday afternoon, and of course we’re listening to one of our favourite jazz programs – Ian Smith’s “Mainly Trad” on Radio Inner FM at 96.5FM on your dial from 1.00-4.00pm. The first hour is not exactly jazz, but something called “Music for Pleasure” which indeed is very pleasurable. And there are no excuses that you are out of range of 3INR (located in Warringal Shopping Centre, Heidelberg) because the station streams live through your computer. If you are a techno-whiz you can probably download it and listen later.

Baby Soda “Live at Radegast”

Anyway, today Smithy played a track from a CD which I lent him of a New York band called BABY SODA – “Jericho” was the tune. The band has a variable lineup but is usually five: trumpet, trombone, clarinet, banjo and one-string box bass. And yes Ian, Bria the trumpeter is very definitely a girl, as is Emily on trombone. Here the band plays “Swing That Music” at St Mazie Bar, Brooklyn, New York.

To give them their full names –
Box Bass and vocals- Peter Ford
Clarinet – Adrian Cunningham
Trumpet – Bria Skonberg
Trombone – Emily Asher
Banjo – Jared Engel

Some of you may recognise the name of Adrian Cunningham, who hails from Sydney – a multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader with an international reputation. Another one of our wandering minstrels who is making the world his stage.

This is how Baby Soda describes themselves:

Baby Soda is on the forefront of a new movement loosely known as street jazz; with an eclectic set of influences ranging from 30s era swing, New Orleans jazz, and southern gospel. The ensemble doesn’t desire to recreate the past, rather they bring the concept and joy of the music to the present.

Baby Soda is an adaptable and ever changing group made up of New York’s finest musicians; featuring trumpet, trombone, clarinet, banjo and the unique one string box bass. The band has performed at some of New York’s finest venues such as The Village Vanguard, Barbes, The Knitting Factory and the Jalopy Theater.

In addition to their busy schedule of club dates, Baby Soda loves performing on the street and in the subway. This allows them to hone their skills and bring the music directly to the people. Both Pediatrics and Geriatrics agree, Baby Soda is the sure cure for the aches and pains of the modern world!

Here the band with a different lineup plays MILENBERG JOYS on a rainy night in New York days before Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of America with such devestating force. Emily Asher, Jared Engel and Peter Ford are joined by Will Anderson on clarinet and Gordon Au on trumpet,

Baby Soda has produced quite a number of CDs which are available from their website

Smithy’s Scallywags plus: Ian and Danni Smith @ The Bentleigh Club

DIANA Allen of Jazz Australia has been presenting world class jazz events consistently – and for a very long time. The Australian jazz scene would be  very much the poorer without her obsession with jazz music and unerring instinct for what makes a class act.  Combine this with extraordinary energy, great organisational ability, and determination to ensure that only the best will do, and it’s easy to understand why Diana’s  Jazz Australia has survived for so long   in the sometimes harsh world of jazz promotion and maintained its enviable reputation for excellence.

On Sunday 24 February she will be bringing us another very special show: AN AFTERNOON WITH IAN SMITH’S SCALLYWAGS, featuring special guest vocalist DANNI SMITH.

This will be at the usual city venue of The Bentleigh Club, Yawla Street, Bentleigh at 11.30am for a midday start.

The “inimitable, indefatigable and indispensable Ian Smith” will lead a great line-up of Scallywags, to celebrate the production of their brand new CD.  Ian Smith, cornet and drums; Jo Stevenson and Steve Dagg, reeds; Johnny Adams, piano; Dai Jones, guitar; John Cox, guitar and banjo; and Mark Elton, bass. Ian’s daughter Danni is featured on this recording and will be in town for the occasion from Byron Bay.

Danni and Ian Smith

This all-star cast ensures a superb afternoon of music, and a lot of fun, as you can imagine. The program will include popular jazz standards, and vocal items originally made famous by singers such as Maxine Sullivan, Peggy Lee and Julie London amongst others.

The show will be accompanied by a two-course luncheon and tickets are $70 per head. Bookings can be made by ringing Diana on 5258 3936, or sending a cheque to Jazz Australia at 25 Peterho Boulevard, Point Lonsdale VIC 3225, or by bank transfer to Jazz Australia’s account at CBA Hawthorn – BSB 063 138 Account Number 1001 3193. If you are making a bank transfer make sure that you include your name for ticketing purposes.

Smithy has recorded with so many bands but it’s great to see him directing his own CD again. The last were “Happy Feet” in 2001 and Smithy’s Studio Scallywags in 2007.