Monthly Archives: August 2013

Barry Wratten and the Crescent City Serenaders with Margret RoadKnight

YESTERDAY (Tuesday 27 August) Iwas listening to Geoff Tobin on Radio 3INR FM’s jazz program Mainly Trad as I do most Tuesdays.   This week Geoff had as his guest outstanding clarinetist Barry Wratten.  Barry has been a devotee and interpreter of New Orleans style music for almost all of his 50 years in the business, and his reminiscences about the Crescent City – where he lived for many years -and the influences of its music and musicians on the growth of jazz around the world were fascinating.

This program reminded me of a fabulous concert which Barry and his Crescent City Serenaders, and featuring renowned singer Margret RoadKnight, presented at the Surrey Music Cafe in November 2012. The concert had special significance as it marked Margret’s 50 years as a professional performer.

Margret is not a singer who can be pigeon-holed.

Quoting from her website: She has sung blues, jazz, gospel, folk, comedy, and social commentary songs in concert halls and cathedrals, clubs and campuses, from Broome to Hobart, Beijing to Memphis, Paris to Auckland, Edinburgh to Tel Aviv, New York to Seoul, Amsterdam to Dublin, New Orleans to London, Vancouver to Nuku’alofa.
But whatever she sings she does it with warmth, charm, passion, wit where appropriate, and a stunning virtuosity.

Filmmaker Nigel Buesst was in the audience on that November evening and recorded the whole program. I’ve chosen 2 tracks from the two dozen he filmed to give you a feel of the whole, but I could just as easily chosen 22 others, given the richness of the choice.  

The lineup in itself was sensational:  Barry as leader on clarinet, Michael McQuaid on trumpet and soprano sax, Chris Ludowyk on trombone, John Scurry on guitar and banjo, David Allardice on piano, Andy Ross on double bass, and Lynn Wallis on drums!

My first choice is a Sidney Bechet song which is not often played, BECHET’S FANTASY. It has a beautiful pairing of Barry Wratten on clarinet and Mike McQuaid on soprano saxophone.

For a change of pace, I’ve chosen CREOLE JAZZ. As Barry points out, New Orleans music has many Caribbean influences. Lynn Wallis’s mastery of its tricky rhythms demonstrates why he is regarded as one of Australia’s finest jazz drummers. I’m sorry that the track stops rather abruptly, but that’s how it was.

As I said earlier, this is only a taste. Another chance to hear Barry and his band, this time The New Orleans Pelicans, will be at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, 1 – 4 November. I think they will be playing on the 1st and 2nd of November, but check the program to be sure.

In the lineup for that occasion will be outstanding young trombone player, Shannon Barnett. Shannon is currently based in New York and has recently had great success playing in Copenhagen with a fantastic Oz band, Ragstretch, led by Chris Tanner (The trumpeter is actually Swedish!). She will be in Australia towards the end of the year, so look out for any gigs she may have while here. Lars Ole Christiansen filmed Ragstretch playing PANAMA at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013. (see below) You’ll find other tracks from the same Festival uploaded on YouTube.

Who the dickens was Goober Sly!!!

I WAS listening with only half an ear to the “Swing and Sway” program on Radio 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne a few Saturdays ago, and heard a very fine version of a catchy song which has been a favourite of mine for some time – You’re a Sweetheart. It was played with a beat just made for the current crop of swing dancers and featured a vibraphone player whose name I interpreted as “Goober Sly”.

Turning to Tom Lord’s Jazz Discography on my computer (which claims to list every jazz recording since 1898), I couldn’t find Mr. Sly. However Adrian Rollini and his Goofus Five had recorded the tune in 1938 which was the right period. Could Goofus Five be a Chinese whisper for Goober Sly? Yes indeed!! Click on Rollini’s picture on the left to hear the recording which features Bobby Hackett (cornet), Adrian Rollini (vibraphone), Frank Victor (guitar), Harry Clark (bass), Buddy Rich (drums) and Sonny Schuyler doing the vocals.

Amongst many instruments, Rollini played the GOOFUS,(aka the Cuesnophone), a quirky instrument invented by French musical instrument manufacturer Cuesnon in 1924. Hence, of course, the origin of the name The Goofus Five.

The Goofus is a free-reed instrument resembling a saxophone in looks. Its reeds vibrate when the desired keys are activated and the player blows across them through a rubber mouthpiece. It may be held upright like a saxophone or horizontally. The keys are set in two parallel rows: one corresponds to the white keys of a piano keyboard, the other to the black keys. Click on the picture of the goofus to hear how it sounds -(somewhat like an harmonica) – in Tessie! Stop Teasin’ Me issued in 1924. Lineup for this recording was Rollini on Goofus, Irving Brodsky – Piano, Ray Kitchingham – Banjo, Stan King – Kazoo and Bill Moore – Trumpet. Stan King does a very creditable kazoo solo in the first part of the track, while Rollini on goofus follows the “vocal” element. (I must do a bit of research on “great kazoo players” and bring you the results!)

Rollini, however, is best regarded for his skill on the bass saxophone. It was during his work with The Goofus Five and The Little Ramblers – both subgroups of The California Ramblers (a band with which he played for many years) – that Rollini developed his distinctive style of saxophone playing. His swing and impetus are very evident in And Then I Forget recorded with The Little Ramblers in 1926 which is amongst some of the best recordings that typify the era. Click on the picture at the left to listen.

The Maple Leaf forever: Bob Whetstone and his Allstars @ Williamstown Jazz Club

BOB Whetstone has put together a truly stellar band for The Maple Leaf Allstars’ gig at the Williamstown Jazz Club this coming Sunday, 25 August from 4.00pm to 7.00pm.

Here’s the lineup:
Bob Whetstone, trumpet
Barry Wratten, clarinet
Hugh de Rosayro, trombone
John Cox, banjo/guitar
Dan Gordon, bass
Lynn Wallis, drums

I expect they will play much in the New Orleans style as this is a very powerful group with lots of New Orleans know-how!

This will be one of those special musical opportunities which doesn’t come along every day, so get there if you can. You’ll be glad you did.

The venue is Williamstown RSL, corner Ferguson Street and Melbourne Road, Williamstown. Bookings 9397 1885 or 9311 3349.

Steve Waddell on the comeback trail

Steve Waddell

A COUPLE of days ago I brought you the good news that Steve Waddell had made a welcome return to playing as a special guest with Doug Rawson’s Sobriety Five. Here are a couple of images of the Five (expanded to a Seven) taken last Wednesday at the Clayton RSL by the Victorian Jazz Club’s ace photographer, Ron “Flash Harry” Jobe.

Derek Reynolds, Tony Orr, Steve Waddell

Derek Reynolds, Tony Orr, Bob Pattie, Mike Edwards, Peter Grey, Doug Rawson, Steve Waddell

Harry Daniels, President of the Peninsula Jazz Club emailed yesterday that Steve Waddell’s Creole Bells will again be presenting themselves at the PLC afternoon concert on Sunday 24 November 2013 at the Patterson Lakes Community Centre. It will be a year since the Creole Bells performed at Patterson Lakes. Last year Steve was MC and sang, but didn’t play. This year we hope that he will be able to lead the band with trombone in hand.

Sobriety Five Special Guests: I was wrong!

LAST Wednesday, 7 August 2013, Doug Rawson’s Sobriety Five wowed the punters at the Victorian Jazz Club’s latest Midweek Daytime Jazz event. Special surprise guests had been announced as a teaser for the gig, and I thought I could guess who they might be, given that various interstate and overseas musicians were in town. But I have to confess that I was seriously wrong!

The guests in fact were Steve Waddell PLAYING trombone and singing, and Bob Pattie on cornet. This was Steve’s first public appearance on trombone since he “lost his lip” some 6 or 7 years ago. After long, dedicated and no doubt often frustrating practice Steve has managed to develop a new embouchure which stood up well to the performance last Wednesday, much to the delight of his many fans. We look forward to seeing him back on stage at some future gigs.

Coincidentally – or not, given the genealogy of jazz bands and the constant movement between groups – the Sobriety Five looked very much like the Creole Bells in the picture below. The only difference was Derek Reynolds on trumpet and Peter Grey on bass, replaced Fred Clark on tuba.

Doug Rawson, Steve Waddell, Tony Orr, Bob Pattie, Fred Clark, Mike Edwards

Steve had been practising with the Sobriety Five for some time leading up to his inclusion in the band. Derek Reynolds also used the regular rehearsals at Doug Rawson’s place to recover his “chops” after a nasty encounter with the footpath. Doug is thinking of advertising Rawon’s Rehabilitation Centre for Recovering Musicians! Welcome back Steve, and best wishes for future outings.

Gatsby Spring Soiree, and other Jazz Age gigs

JUST look at this poster!     Baz Luhrman’s “The Great Gatsby” has made the Jazz Age trendy, cool, hip, whatever but our musicians have been doing it for years. The Gatsby Swing Soiree at the Malvern Town Hall on 25 August will feature three special bands – the recent joint Mike McQuaid/Leigh Barker venture, Mike’s Retro Five; the suave Andrew Nolte and his Orchestra, and the rousing Crescent City band, Barry Wratten’s Pelican Brass Band. And all on the one playbill.

Doors open at 8.00pm. Book here.

Andrew Nolte has built his professional career on the music and style of the Jazz Age, not only with his Orchestra and its 1920s/30s repertoire, but also with his own Gatsby-era elegance.

You have the chance to enjoy Andrew and his Orchestra at several other gigs during August.

They’ll be at The Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Road, Brunswick (near the Brunswick Town Hall) on Sundays 11, 18,and 25 August from 4.00pm – 7.00pm.

And at The Pinnacle, 251 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North on Saturday 31 August, also from 4.00pm – 7.00pm.

Women Talk Jazz!

LISTENING last night to a CD of exerpts from Stephen Fry’s BBC4 radio program, “English Delight”, I was amused by an episode on the differences between the way men and women use language. I was particularly struck by an interview with Prof. Jennifer Coates, who seems to have made a lifelong career of studying and publishing in this fairly arcane, but fascinating field. As you will hear in the clip below, Coates observes that women – as a generalisation – tend to converse in a way which suggests the ensemble playing of jazz musicians. See if you agree with her.

So next time I’m accused of talking over people, I’m just going to say “I’m jamming!”

HuonFM, Australia’s southernmost jazz radio broadcaster

GEEVESTON is a small town located in the south of Tasmania on the Huon River, 62 km south west of Hobart, making it Australia’s most southerly administrative centre. That makes its radio station, – HuonFM – Australia’s southernmost broadcaster, and its weekly jazz program – RHYTHM IS OUR BUSINESS presented by David Milne – the deepest south of our jazz on radio providers.

Fortunately in this age of streaming, we can all listen to David’s program which goes to air every Sunday from 4.00pm to 9.00pm. By clicking on the microphone below you’ll get to the station’s front page. If you want to note down the URL for future reference, it’s

David has been an enthusiastic Australian Jazz Convention goer, and in preparation for this year’s shindig in Goulburn he is presenting two special programs which will be his personal look at the Conventions, the music and the Original Tunes, with lots of appropriate recordings. These will be broadcast on Sundays 18 August and 25 August, and should be a great memory jogger and preparation for the 68th AJC, which is fast approaching.

WHICH reminds me that the Convention website is up-to-date with all arrangements, information and news on the coming event, so visit to read the latest newsletter, choose accommodation, volunteer to help, or register. Make sure you go to the new website at

A final note: On Sunday 11 August David will have as his studio guest well-known reedsman, Paul Martin whose playing credentials stretch back to the 1960s and include the Black Eagle Jazz Band, Nick Boston’s New Orleans Jazz Band, Yarra Yarra Jazz Band, The Hot Sands, Roger Jane’s Band, The Jazzmakers, Jim Loughnan’s Bendigo Five, Melbourne New Orleans Wanderers, Melbourne University Jazz Band, Ian Pearce Quartet, Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers, “amongst others”.

Mike’s Retro Five: Michael McQuaid and Leigh Barker joint venture

JASON Downes’ Entertainment Gig Guide uses the quirky image below to announce  “an exciting new project in which  Michael McQuaid and Leigh Barker join forces to bring you an eclectic mix of the sweetest 1920s pop songs and gut-bucket blues.   Mike’s Retro Five also features period vocals from the charming Sandra Talty.   Speakeasy, here we come”.

The makeup of this group is:
Michael McQuaid – trumpet
Jason Downes – clarinet, sax
Leigh Barker – bass
Liam O’Connell – banjo
Sandra Talty – drums, vocals

The date of their first performance is Tuesday 6 August 2013from 8:30 – 10.30 pm.  The venue:  Open Studio, 204 High St, Northcote.

If you miss them on opening night, do not grieve: they will be playing for all the Tuesdays in August 2013, ie. 13th, 20th and 27th – same time, same place.

Open Studio is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with music every night, some of it jazz so it is certainly worth checking their gig guide.