Barry Wratten’s Crescent City Serenaders @ The Rosstown

IF you’re in Melbourne or surrounds this Sunday (July 22) and wondering what to do jazz-wise, you couldn’t do better than lunch at that good old jazz pub, The Rosstown in Carnegie and listen to Barry Wratten’s Crescent City Serenaders.
Barry’s natural ability on clarinet refined by years spent playing in the Crescent City itself and elsewhere has made him an undisputed master of the New Orleans style of jazz. His knowledge of the genre is also phenomenal. On Sunday he will be supported by the cream (a cliche I know but true) of local musicians – Michael McQuaid on trumpet, Rob Moffat on trombone, Richard Mander on bass and sousaphone, John Scurry on banjo & guitar, and Lynn Wallis on drums.
Lunch is served from 12 noon; music is from 1.30pm to 4.00pm. It’s wise to book on 9571 1033. The hotel is on the corner of Koornang and Dandenong Roads, Carnegie a few steps from the Carnegie station and there is on site parking.

As a matter of interest, the clarinet on the poster above is the same model, an American made Harry Pedler, silver plated Albert System clarinet, on which George Lewis first recorded his “Burgundy Street Blues” for William Russell in July 1944. Here is a rare picture of Lewis with his metal clarinet which he played from 1943 to 1944, changing to a wooden instrument for its lighter weight and ease of carrying.

In the 1920s all New Orleans jazz clarinetists played Albert fingering system instruments. With the coming of the Boehm and other systems many changed, but some like Barry Wratten believe that the original New Orleans sound requires the original instrument. Famous clarinetists who played Albert System clarinets included Jimmie Noone, Barney Bigard, George Lewis, Louis Cottrell, Omer Simeon and Johnny Dodds. The system may be harder to play but it is thought to offer a richer, more open tone and lends itself to a slower pace (three cheers!)

Here Barry plays Louis Cottrell’s lovely song “True” with Des Camm’s band at the Rosstown. Barry tells me that they did an even lovelier version at the Moe Festival a few weeks ago but we don’t have a video of that performance, so we’ll have to take his word for it!

And to close these ramblings, Louis Cottrell plays “Tin Roof Blues” on his Albert System clarinet.

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