Monthly Archives: April 2013

Shirazz sparkles: new CD launch for busy band

Shirazz at the Grampians Festival 2013
(photo: Ron Jobe)

SHIRAZZ is one of the busiest and most popular young bands around town at the moment, with a fan base from both ends of the age spectrum who appreciate the band’s signature sound – vibrant, loud and driving. Their name – Shirazz – gives a clue: the wine, without the extra “z”, has been described as powerfully flavoured and full bodied!

In addition to an active playing schedule, Shirazz has just produced its third album in four years, REWINED, which will be launched officially on Sunday 12 May at The Workers Club, corner Brunswick and Gertrude Streets, Fitzroy. Doors open at 7.30pm. Music starts at 8.00pm with the group THE NYMPHS, and Shirazz kicks in at 9.00pm.

This 12 track CD was recorded in November 2012 in the Northcote Uniting Church Hall by sound engineer, Harry Williamson. This is obviously a great space acoustically giving the recording the bright sound of a live performance.

The tracks are a nice mixture of jazz classics and traditionals, more recent tunes not done to death by other jazz bands, plus an original composition, “Just Sayin'” by Travis Woods and Matt Dixon , and the Amy Winehouse song “Valerie” (a bit of a surprise, but after all the early jazz musicians took popular songs of their era and played them in the jazz idiom). Even when playing the “classics”, Shirazz isn’t into slavish copying the best known versions, but put their own very distinctive stamp on them. I particularly liked the Shirazz take on “Blue Drag” which is usually associated with Django Reinhardt, and their version of the Count Basie/Joe Williams “All Right, OK You Win”.

“Dig a Little Deeper in the Well” gives the excellent singers in the band a chance to shine in this gospel/country song made famous by the Oak Ridge Boys of Tennessee. One of the band’s signature tunes “Roll The Patrol” I’ve only ever heard played before by the Ross Anderson’s New Melbourne Jazz Band, so it is not suprising to learn that the New Melbourne was an early inspiration for leader, Matt Dixon.

To see a complete listing of the tracks on this exciting new album, visit the band’s website and Facebook page. You can also download the complete album or individual tracks, or order the physical album.

Here are a couple of tracks to whet your appetite.

Here Mike Hanley sings “When You’re Smiling”:

Another high point for the band is that their second CD, “Enjoy Responsibly” has been nominated for the prestigious Graeme Bell Jazz Awards in the Best Australian Traditional Jazz Album category. The two other nominees are Flap – “A Great Day for the Race” and Zohar’s Nigun – “The Four Questions”.
The Bell Awards will be presented in the Regent Theatre Ballroom on Thursday 2 May.

The rest of the month is also busy –
Shirazz will be playing at the Ilawarra Jazz Festival on Saturday 4 May, and then on a first trip to Canberra they’ll be at The Front, Shop 1/Wattle Place, Lyneham from 3.00pm to 6.00pm on Sunday 5 May.

Back to Melbourne for a swing dancers’ gig on Wednesday 8 May
at First Floor, 393 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. 8:30pm – 11:00pm.
If you come early there are swing dancing lessons:
Beginners: 6:00-7:00pm

Then on Friday 31 May they’ll be playing with The Cairo Club Orchestra and The Leroy Horns Brass Band at Gatsby Winter Soiree, at Malvern Town Hall, Glenferrie Road and High Street, Malvern. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets $30 + BF from or $35 on the door.

What these six young musicians have been able to achieve in less than four years from a standing start is amazing.  They’ve built a band which has an established identity, a large and varied audience, a reputation for original and tight arrangements, a very entertaining and attractive stage presence, and a publicity machine which keeps their name before the punters and venue organisers.   The very best of luck to them in their future achievments.

And to remind you who they are:
Matt Dixon, trombone, leader, vocals; Adrian De Fanti, clarinet, alto sax, vocals; Travis Woods, trumpet; Michael Hanley, banjo, guitar, vocals; Alastair Robertson, double bass; Mike Di Cecco, drums, washboard.

Now to close off this post with a very different version of “Blue Drag” which is said to have been recorded at a Walt Disney party. I don’t know who made the cartoon, but it’s definitely not for the kiddies.

Marilyn Keller to perform in Melbourne after Mittagong

JOHN Buchanan’s wonderful Classic Jazz Ragtime and Swing Festival was on in Mittagong over the weekend 20 and 21 April, and as expected, reports back from attenders have been ecstatic.  One of Australia’s most prestigious jazz festivals, Mittagong  always presents a satisfying  experience for those who want to listen to the music without having to do battle with the social chatter, the programming is always  creative, and the music is played by some of the best talent in the country.

Without doubt, the outstanding rave of this year’s Festival was for visiting American jazz/blues/gospel singer Marilyn Keller who had three major slots in the program, as well as making guest appearances in some of the other  segments.

 Marilyn’s first set was The Great American Songbook  which she performed with Paul Furniss (reeds), Peter Locke, (piano); Graham Conlon,( guitar); Stan Valacos, (bass) and Anthony Howe, (drums). She was thrilled with their brilliance as musicians and the way they complemented her stunning versions of Georgia, But Not for Me, At Last, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, The Sunnyside of the Street, It Don’t Mean a Thing, The Joint is Jumping etc. Following this set, Marilyn had the audience spellbound and in the palm of her hand.

On Saturday evening she did a set called A Night in New Orleans with Geoff Bull’s Olympia Jazz Band when she took the audience back to Storyville, Over in the Gloryland, to Bourbon Street, Atlanta Blues and wowed an audience of 400 plus with ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business.

At the Sunday morning gospel service in St Judes Anglican Church, Bowral  – probably the biggest congregation ever and the most responsive – Marilyn was backed by the Paul Furniss San Francisco Jazz band (Paul Furniss , reeds; John Bates, trombone; Paul Baker, banjo;  Stan Valacos, double bass;  Viv Carter,  drums;  and guest Stephen Grant on piano), and gave moving renditions of   Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, The Sweet Bye and Bye, and Just a Little While to Stay Here

For those who didn’t make it to Mittagong, there’s another  chance to hear Marilyn Keller, this time  in Melbourne, her first visit to our city.  This will be  at the Bentleigh Club on Sunday 5 May under Diana Allen’s Jazz Australia banner. On this occasion Marilyn will be backed, supported, enhanced by the great Bob Sedergreen and his Quartet.

By all reports, Marilyn Keller is a majestic and beautiful woman with a unique voice and a rivetting stage presence. As one of her many previous presenters has said, she has the vocal power to move audiences, and a way of reaching into the soul of the songs she sings, then being able to convey this to her audience.

Don’t miss this opportunity for a truly memorable afternoon of music with one of the current divas of jazz/gospel/blues.

Tickets are $70 which includes a beautiful two course luncheon.Doors open at 11.30am for a midday start.  Please either post a cheque made payable to Jazz Australia, to  Jazz Australia, 25 Peterho Boulevard, Point Lonsdale 3225, or make your payment by bank transfer to Jazz Australia CBA Hawthorn 063 138 1001 3193. Your payment will confirm your booking and the sooner it is received the better your seating position will be!  Given the late date, it would be wise to ring Diana to let her know you want tickets.

Phone  5258 3936   or Mobile 0409 019 067

Here Marilyn sings with one of her regular backing bands, New Orleans Delight, in Falkoping, Sweden.

The Globe Cafe: a “boutique” jazz venue on Chapel Street, Prahran

THE Globe Cafe at 218 Chapel Street, Prahran is a jazz friendly spot in this bustling vibrant street of fashion, entertainment, the exotic and the quirky. Located between High Street and Greville Street, the Globe has a varied and changing program of live jazz and cabaret, with regular late afternoon and evening performances in the Cafe itself, or in the intimate back room (seats for 40).

Many of the artists performing at the Globe will be familiar names to the jazz following public. Here are Fem Belling accompanied by father Howard Belling on a recent occasion.

Fem Belling with Howard Belling on keyboard

A special treat coming up this Sunday 21 April from 5.00pm – 8.00pm will be the MAX & JO SHOW – translated as Max Tinkle (aka Graeme Davies) on reeds and harmonica, with the very talented Jo Abbott on piano. Jo also sings in English and French. (Heard her recently at a Rosstown Hotel piano lunch and she was special). Here’s the poaster for the show. It should be a gas!

With such a small space tickets sell out quickly. Bookings can be made by phone at 9510 8693 or online

68th Australian Jazz Convention update: steaming along!

THE 68th Australian Jazz Convention Committee is going full steam ahead, with a fine new website which gives you the latest information on the Goulburn party, provides for registering online, includes details of the Original Tunes Competition (an important feature of the AJC), and will publish the Committee’s regular Newsletters as they appear.

The program for the Convention will include:

Welcome Night                                               Picnic in Victoria Park
Street Parade                                                   Public Concert in Belmore Park
Programmed Venues                                     New Year’s Eve Party
Original Tunes Competition                         Music Industry Trade Fair

Chris Gildersleeve, the webmaster, will keep the site up to date as news breaks.

Click on the marchers below to visit the website.

For further information visit or