Monthly Archives: September 2013

Forty Five Years On: the Victorian Jazz Club looking back

AS the Victorian Jazz Club prepares to celebrate officially its 45th birthday on Saturday 5 October, it is fascinating to look back to the Club’s early, heady days of “Jazz ‘N’ Jug every Thursday night in the Thoroughly Modern Piano Lounge of the Prospect Hill Hotel, 299 High Street Kew, (now Dan Murphy’s) where the entry fee was 50 cents, and the Hotel provided a “range of supper dishes” for 50 cents minimum after 10.00pm to comply with the liquor laws at the time.

Jazzline No. 2, September 1968

Above is a picture of my precious copy of the second issue of the Club’s magazine JAZZLINE. It consists of 16 duplicated pages detailing a bit of the history of the Club, a list of Committee members (some familiar names there) and plans for future activities.

But perhaps most interesting is the aim of the Club which was to provide playing opportunities and audiences for existing bands or regularly rehearsing groups with the accent on traditional styles, although the only real stipulation was that “the music be jazz oriented and played with a reasonable amount of ability and a large amount of sincerity.” There were also to be ample opportunities for “sit-ins” and for groups or individual musicians, who did not meet the criterion of “regular groups”, to perform on special guest nights.

The following 12 bands were registered to play during the first season which began on 12 September 1968:

Roger Bell, Denis Ball, Mal Wilkinson, Bud Baker, Robin McCulloch, Mal McGililivray.
Roger re-formed his famous group last year to appear at Geoff Brook’s Steak Cave. Now appearing occasionally at La Brochette.

Allan Leake, Dick Tattam, Paul Martin, John Murray, Graham Coyle, Mike Nelson, Fred Stephenson or Dick Barnes.
Led by Allan Leake and with its obvious accent on experience, this recently formed group shows great promise.

Peter Gaudion and Steve Miller, Mike Longhurst, Len Cobbledick, Peter Grey, John Kent.
Formed by Steve and Peter about a year ago, the band has been doing one night stands and some recent television work.

Nick Polites, Chris Deutscher, Ray Lewis, Andy Symes, Frank Stewart, Lynn Wallis.
Basically a reconstruction of the old Silver Leaf Jazz Band with the addition of Nick Polites on clarinet. Originally formed to play at the Catharina over two years ago, the band has well outlived the job and now does one night appearances around town.

Don Standing, Mike Longhurst, Dave Allardice, Jeremy Kelloch, Peter Cass, Peter Scudds, Paul Longhurst.
Formed by Don Standing in the last six months, this group forms an interesting musical contrast to most of the jazz bands in Melbourne.

Allan Browne, Brett Iggulden, Dick Miller, Bill Howard, Rowan Smith, John Scurry, Conrad Joyce.
Recently returned from overseas, this must be one of Melbourne’s most popular jazz bands, appearing frequently on TV amongst other engagements.

(In the following filmclip of the Red Onions from 1966 we see Mike Edwards on second trumpet and Nick Polites on clarinet.)

Frank Traynor, Dick Tattam, Jim Loughnan, Peter McKay, Les Davis, Ron Williamson, Jim Beal.
Originally formed from the House Band of the old Melbourne Jazz Club the group have recorded extensively (including football club theme songs) and have many concert appearances to their credit. Doing one night stands these days,they also appear regularly at Frank’s Folk and Coffee House.

Steve Waddell, Mal Jennings, Mike Longhurst, Bob Gilbert, Dave Campbell, Geoff Thompson, Clive Champion, Duncan McQueen.
Now appearing regularly on television this group also works on a one night stand basis.

Maurie Garbutt, Dave Bailey, Les Fithall, Willie Watt, Dave Myers, Graham Bennett, Lucille Newcombe.
One of the longest established bands in Melbourne and veterans of many clubs and concerts, this group did a lot to establish New Orleans ensemble jazz in Melbourne. Now taking the bull by the horns and appearing regularly in Melbourne’s discotheques.

Barry Hanley, Peter McKay,Ken Sluice, Ken Vatcher.
A very talented quartet formed to play at the Croxton Park Hotel. Still appearing there regularly.

Gavan Gow, Chris Ellis, Hans Karssemeyer, “Gypsy” Bennett.
A well established group now appearing at the Springvale Hotel.

Simon Wettenhall, Garry Richardson, Jeremy Kelloch, Ron Cook, Peter Cass, Felix Blatt, Bob Moore.
A young band with great promise in the traditional style of King Oliver etc.

Hope you enjoyed this wander down memory lane!

Those Barnards: Australia’s Jazz Dynasty

Rebecca Barnard

I WAS listening this morning (Friday 27 September 2013) to the radio broadcast of the AFL Grand Final parade, and who should be in the studio singing the Aussie Rules football “hymn”, Up There Cazaly, but the lovely Rebecca Barnard. Rebecca is of course a member of the Barnard dynasty, four generations of musicians including the legendary Bob Barnard and Len Barnard, plus the later generations of Tony and Adam Barnard, and Casey and Beau Golden. Bob and Len’s mother and father had a dance band in the 1940s.

Stan Valacos, Rebecca Barnard, Adam Barnard, Casey Golden, Beau Golden, Bob Barnard, Tony Barnard
(from Bob Barnard’s Jazz Scrapbook)

On Saturday 5 October the Victorian Jazz Club will hold a joint celebration of Bob Barnard‘s 80th birthday (a month early) and the Club’s 45th (a few month’s late, but very well worth waiting for). The occasion will also be the launching party for Bob’s latest in a long line of CDs. This one features Peter Locke (piano), James Clark (bass), Jo Stevenson (reeds) and Peter Whitford (drums) wih Rebecca Barnard on vocals – all of whom will perform on the night. This show has been a total sell-out for weeks – even the dance floor has been taken over for seating to fit in the maximum number of fans.

Dutch Army Bicycle Band: and not a dreaded lurgi amongst them!

THANKS to John and Paula Cox for this delightful piece of lunacy: The Dutch Army Bicycle Brass Band playing in Bremen, Germany in 2004. Worthy of the late lamented Spike – and not a dreaded lurgi amongst them. I’m trying to visualise some of our well-loved bands on wheels!

The Dreaded Lurgy?

SPEAKING recently to jazz impresario, Diana Allen, I learn that she has been suffering from “the dreaded lurgy” for the past three weeks, (hopefully now fully free of the effects).

We ruminated over the origin of this strange medical term.

Spike Milligan

According to the website WORLD WIDE WORDS the dreaded lurgi (so written in the script) struck Britain almost sixty years ago on 9 November 1954, in the seventh programme of the fifth series of The Goon Show. This anarchic and surreal radio comedy series starred Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe; it was written by Spike Milligan, between bouts of depression, though on this occasion Eric Sykes (who shared an office with him at the time) did most of the work.

The plot, such as it was, dealt with an outbreak of a previously unknown disease. It was solemnly announced in the House of Commons that “Lurgi is the most dreadful malady known to mankind. In six weeks it could swamp the whole of the British Isles.” Of course, there was no epidemic — it was a fraud perpetrated by those arch-criminals, Count Jim “Thighs” Moriarty and the Honourable Hercules Grytpype-Thynne (trading as Messrs Goosey and Bawkes, a barely-disguised reference to the music publisher Boosey and Hawkes) who put it about that nobody who played a brass-band instrument had ever been known to catch lurgi: this resulted in their disposing profitably of vast amounts of their merchandise.

Seniors Festival Jazz: New Melbourne @ Town Hall

THERE aren’t too many advantages in passing the 60 milestone and getting your Seniors Card, but one of them is that October is Seniors Festival time in Melbourne with literally hundreds of special activities and events, most of which are free to holders of said card.

The complete program is available online at

For jazz lovers an item of particular interest is the Festival After Dark concert on Thursday 10 October featuring the well-loved New Melbourne Jazz Band at Melbourne Town Hall. The Victorian Jazz Archive is co-sponsoring this event which runs from 7.00pm to 9.30pm.

Entry is free which means that booking will be even more essential than usual!

Shirazz in September

THAT bright band about town, SHIRAZZ, has a busy September with three very different gigs on their calendar.

The first is a fundraiser in support of the Tecoma 8, the group of local residents of the small town in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, who are protesting against the building of a 24-hour McDonald’s restaurant in their main street.

The No Maccas in the Hills group invites you to this glamorous event to raise funds for the Tecoma 8. As well as Shirazz’s own brand of roaring Dixieland jazz to keep you on the dance floor, there’ll be cabaret from Mademoiselle K, auctions and raffles with amazing prizes, photographers, craft beers, organic ciders and finger food. The evening will be hosted by comic Genevieve Morris from ABC and Network 10 TV, with a guest appearance by that other well known comic, Dave O’Neill.

When: Friday 13th September, 8pm
Venue: Upwey Community Hall (1443 Burwood Hwy, Upwey).
Tickets: $20 – can be purchased from Belgrave Organics, 1675 Burwood Highway, Belgrave. 9754 8800. Email:

The second is the regular third-Friday-of-the-month meeting of the Peninsula Jazz Club on Friday 20 September at 8.00pm in the Patterson Lakes Community Centre.

This is Shirazz’s fourth gig at the PJC so they must be doing lots of things right. This will be a laid back night of dancing to infectious music, amongst the friendly folk at Peninsula. Bring your own food and drink, but there is tea and coffee provided. Tickets are $15 ($10 for PJC members). Bookings are recommended – call Harry Daniels on 9580 2906 or 0422 657 634 to book or for more information.

The third is a gig at Bennetts Lane in downtown Melbourne on Saturday 21 September at 8.30pm.

Bennetts Lane is one of Australia’s most prestigious jazz venues, with a 7 days a week calendar of national and international stars. It’s not so often that dixieland jazz appears on the menu, so this is a great occasion for the trads. Tickets are $25/$20 + b.f., available at the Bennetts Lane Website or at the door, 25 Bennetts Lane, CBD.

Those are the Shirazz gigs for September but they’ve more coming up in October – keep your eye on their gig guide for the latest info.

Marian McPartland: Grande dame of jazz piano dies at 95

Jazz pianist Marian McPartland died on 20 August 2013 at her home in Long Island, New York. She was 95 years old.

She was born Margaret Marian Turner in Slough, England, on March 20, 1918.   
Marian began playing piano by ear at the age of 3, and at 17 she entered the Guildhall School of Music in London. Against her parents’ strong objections, she left school in 1938 to go on tour with a four-piano vaudeville act, taking the stage name of Marian Page. “My mother said, ‘Oh, you’ll come to no good, you’ll marry a musician and live in an attic,’” she recalled in 1998. “Of course, that did happen.”

She began entertaining troops in Britain and in 1943 joined the USO, entertaining US soldiers near the European battlefront. In 1944 she met the U.S. jazz cornetist Jimmy McPartland in Belgium. McPartland had been one of the Austin High School gang in Chicago in the 1920s which included Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), brother Dick McPartland (banjo/guitar), Jim Lanigan (bass, tuba and violin), Joe Sullivan (piano) and Dave Tough (drums). Marian and Jimmy married in Aachen, Germany in early 1946, and moved to Chicago soon after.

Marian worked for a while in her husband’s group, but he was a tradition-loving Dixieland musician and she was more interested in the new bebop sounds coming from New York, where she moved in 1950.

Marian McPartland, Bill Crow, Joe Morello

Encouraged by her husband, she formed a trio and found work at the Embers, a Manhattan nightclub, in 1950. Two years later, she began what was supposed to be a brief engagement at The Hickory House restaurant , 52nd Street, Manhattan which turned into an eight-year residency.

Here the Marian McPartland Trio plays at The Hickory House in 1954. Tickle Toe, is the tune. Bill Crow is on bass and Joe Morello on drums. Morello is probably best known as the drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

As a British white woman McPartland was an outsider in the American jazz scene.  She was one of only three women included in Art Kane’s iconic group portrait of jazz musicians on a Harlem street.   The photo -“A Great Day in Harlem” – was taken  on 12 August in the summer of 1958 by Art Kane for Esquire magazine.   Fifty seven of the leading jazz musicians then playing in New York City gathered at 10 o’clock in the morning (an unlikely time for jazz musicians!) at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues .  Marian McPartland is in the front row with the large black handbag next to her friend, pianist Mary Lou Williams. Thelonius Monk is next to Mary Lou, figuring he would be most noticeable in his light coloured jacket and near a couple of good looking women!

In 1994 Jean Bach made a documentary about the occasion which is totally fascinating. Click on the picture below to link to the film.  The musicians were of course an unruly bunch, difficult to herd together, especially since many of them hadn’t seen each other for some time. Count Basie is sitting on the kerb where a group of local kids soon joined him. One of them kept stealing his hat!  Marian, as one of the few remaining alive from the original group,is one of the commentators on the film.

For a list of the musicians in the photo go to Wikipedia at

Marian McPartland became an unexpected jazz star. She forged a distinctive style, made scores of albums and composed music and sogs that were recorded by superstars, including Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan

But perhaps her greatest contribution to jazz came later in life, through her illuminating interviews and impromptu performances with musicians on her long-running NPR radio programme, Piano Jazz. She was 61 when the first episode went to air  in 1978. By the time she stepped down in 2011 she had won a Peabody Award for broadcasting and a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. She also helped a generation learn about jazz through her searching interviews, conducted in her dulcet-toned, sometimes irreverent voice. “Marian McPartland has done more for jazz pianists than anyone in the entire world,” the jazz impresario George Wein said in 1991.

Click on the picture below to listen to a Piano Jazz program recorded with Ray Charles in 1991.

The McPartlands’ marriage ended in the early 1970s but they remained close friends and continued to work together occasionally.  In the 1980s,  Marian and Jimmy decided that “our divorce was a failure,” and they moved back in together on Long Island. They had no children. In 1991 they were remarried 46 years after their first wedding. Two weeks later, Jimmy died.

Marian McPartland was without question one of the finest jazz pianists of her generation, and years from now her records will be making that fact perfectly clear to youngsters who’ve never heard of “Piano Jazz,” or radio.

The bare-bones accompaniment of bass and drums was always her preferred format, but she also appeared in concert with symphony orchestras, and in 1996 she recorded an album of her own compositions, Silent Pool, on which she was accompanied by a string orchestra.

And she continued playing almost to the end. Unlike some jazz musicians of her generation, McPartland never became set in her ways; her playing grew denser and more complex with time, and even late in life she was experimenting with new harmonic ideas.

Readings In-Store Jazz Event

Mark Rubbo’s Readings bookshops are part of what makes Melbourne the culturally rich city that it is.

The Wangaratta Jazz Festival has had a close relationship with Readings for some years, and is taking this relationship to a new level in 2013 with, amongst other things, an exciting in-store jazz event.

At 6.00pm on Wednesday 18 September, you can front up to Readings Hawthorn (701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn) to enjoy music by guitarist Stephen Magnusson and saxophonist Julien Wilson (both past winners of the National Jazz Awards and performers at this year’s Festival). This will be followed by a conversation with the Festival’s artistic director, Adrian Jackson.

Supported by Brown Brothers of Milawa, this is a free event, but please book on (03) 9819 1917. Given the sponsors, there might even be a glass or two to warm the heart along with the music.

Julien Wilson

Stephen Magnusson