Category Archives: Reviews

Andy Baylor Reeling!!!!

baylor reel
AUSTRALIA’S original roots music maestro, Andy Baylor, is celebrating his 11th independent CD release – REEL OF JOY – at Melbourne’s well-loved Lomond Hotel, corner of Nicholson Street and Blyth Street, Brunswick East on Sunday May 11th from 5.00pm – 8.00pm

Well known for his ability to move between musical styles, Andy Baylor mixes sounds as a painter blends colours. He transforms old songs into new with the kind of feeling and authority that comes from 35 years of Australian music- making and seamlessly interweaves his own new material.

REEL OF JOY is a testament to his love of music. It is a new collection of heartfelt songs and tunes drawn from the deep well of tradition.

A joyous Cajun fiddle reel rolls easily into a classic New Orleans jukebox hit, and on further into one of Andy’s own back-roads country songs. A bittersweet soul ballad is re-cast as a fiddle-driven Cajun waltz. A Spanish love song from days gone by magically re-emerges as a Jamaican dancehall skank. Ballads, blues and country ska grooves move together in time with moody midnight waltzes. A Hank Williams hurtin’ classic sits next to an irresistible dance tune from the Kingdom of Zydeco as if there are no boundaries to musical expression…. And thus the journey continues, like life itself – the reel of joy echoes through the bar-rooms of Melbourne, Sydney and the back-of-beyond. The rhythms resound in the hills and valleys of the Australian landscape and all places in between.

For a taste, here Andy performs the title track from the CD at Tamworth earlier this year. With him are Garry Steel, Warren Earl, Michael Vidale and Ron Mahony.

For the album Andy put together a talented group of Melbourne musicians: Sam Lemann on guitars, Denis Close on percussion, Andy “hillbilly” Scott on bass, Sharkey Ramos on drums, Steve Teakle on accordion, Andy Ogburn on piano and Dale Lindrea on bass.

The music was recorded deep in the heart of Brunswick, Melbourne by Steve Fraser in a disused lingerie factory and captures a warm, live, no frills approach to playing.

Entry to Sunday’s launch is free, food is available, kids welcome.
Musical guests include Denis Close on percussion; Sharkey Ramos on drums; Andrew Scott on bass; Sam Lemann on guitars; Ed Bates on pedal steel.

For more info you can contact Andy on baylorbad@ozemail.com.au, Mobile: 0407 839144 or www.andybaylor.com.au

As Andy says:

REEL OF JOY is: heartfelt music picked yesterday, direct from grower, organic, fiercely independent, free of harmful additives, not tested on animals, fair trade, has the heart foundation tick of approval, gluten and dairy free and is available only from Andy Baylor himself .
Support Australian musicians and artists.

Juliarna Cleal-Clark CD launch

clealcropSINGER Juliarna Cleal will launch her latest CD, SUGAR BLUES at The Paris Cat, 6 Goldie Place, CBD on Friday 7 February at 7.30 pm. Tickets are $15, from www.pariscat.com.au, and CDs will be available at launch.

Juliarna’s collaborators on the disc and at the launch are The Heartjazz Statesmen. You may not know the band, but you’ve certainly heard of the musicians in it: Stephen Grant (trumpet), Richard Miller (clarinet), Michael Harding (piano), Peter Hooper (banjo), James Clark (bass), and Rod Gilbert (drums). As the poster says, “A group of masterful players.”

Feb 7 Poster.pdf-page-001

The album is the result of Juliarna’s love affair with fun and quirky jazz tunes. “Heartjazz to me means things that make your heart sing; these songs and these musicians really do,” says Juliarna. “This album will appeal to a large portion of music lovers. Jazz traditionalists will appreciate some of the fabulous old tunes such as Clarence William’s Sugar Blues, Louis Jordan’s Barnyard Boogie, and Fats Waller’s That Ain’t Right. Devotees will love Stephen Grant’s outstanding trumpet contributions, and anyone who loves music and has a pulse will enjoy the band’s handling of such groovy greats as Comes Love and Once Too Often.”
Listen to a grab of Comes Love by clicking on the picture below.

clark paris car

The CD is a labour of love and a family affair. James Clark, well known bass player and sound engineer of this album, is Juliarna’s husband. They met in 2009, when James mastered her debut solo jazz CD ESPRESSO, still a favourite on local radio’s jazz programs.

clark james juliarna

SUGAR BLUES is the result of dogged determination as well as creative inspiration. The last few tunes were recorded whilst the birth of their second child was overdue last November.

James and Jules with baby Montgomery in December 2013

James and Jules with baby Montgomery in December 2013

Juliarna is a singer who is comfortable in a number of styles: her voice has been variously described as “luscious”, “lyrical” and “joyous”. The warmth of her personality and presence make an instant connection with her audience. They shine through on this CD.

She is a regular at The Paris Cat, may be heard doing live spots with her band on local radio, particularly 3MBS FM and Highlands FM, and at other gigs around town. She recently sang for a conference of Loreto nuns at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel in Richmond.

Here she sings with Rebecca Harris Mason as the duo Kingsville.

And finally, we may be seeing the continuation of the Clark musical dynasty: James’s dad is Ollie Clark, Fred is his uncle, and by the look of it, Amelia Clark (aged 2) is already making her mark at the microphone.

clark amelia

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Shake It, One More Time…with The Louisiana Shakers

MELBOURNE is doing its best to depress this afternoon, but I’ve been cocooned from the chill  by the music of one of my favourite bands – The Louisiana Shakers – and their most recent CD Shake It, One More Time….

Recorded in March 2011 and released without fanfare in 2012, the album contains 12 tracks reflecting the musical mix  which makes up the New Orleans repertoire – marches, rags, blues, spirituals, pop songs and borrowed melodies and riffs.

The personnel on this disc are the regulars of the last few years: Nick Polites  on clarinet, Derek Reynolds on trumpet, Ashley Keating (leader) on banjo, Nathaniel Garbutt on string bass,  and Kevin Bolton on drums.  But what makes this CD so very special is that the “charismatic and endearing” Charlie Powell (Ashley Keating’s words with which I agree)  plays trombone and sings  for the last time on a Shakers recording.  Charlie died in August 2012 at the age of 86.

Charlie Powell

Marches are represented by Salutation March composed by Roland Seitz (the “Parade Music Prince”), and Moose March (1910). The Shakers’ version of the latter is reminiscent of the Bunk Johnson /George Lewis 1942 recording with Nick Polites weaving around the trumpet and the trombone in true Lewis style.

There are a number of popular songs, (several with a western flavour), which suit the band’s more lyrical mood :
Carolina Moon, (a 1928 favourite of American crooner Gene Austin)
Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day.  (Bing Crosby crooned this in 1931)
Roll Along Prairie Moon (Roy Rogers). Charlie Powell sings on this track.
Moonlight and Roses (composed in 1888 by Edwin Lemare as Andantino in D Flat. With words added without permission in 1921 it became the popular song we know today)
Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider (1903).

It wouldn’t be a Shakers’ recording without some blues, and here we have three:
La Harpe Street Blues which is one of those “borrowed” tunes :  it  clearly doubles as  the gospel song If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now).

Franklin  Street Blues which is sometimes attributed to Bunk Johnson but a descendant of the real composers states “it was written jointly by Louis Dumaine and Eddie Jackson, my grandfather… They recorded it in 1927, 20 years or so before Johnson recorded his version.” This track has some lovely low register work by NickPolites on clarinet and a bass interlude by Nat Garbutt where he plucks a string and lets it slap back onto the fingerboard making a very percussive sound.

Yellow Dog Blues, composed by W. C. Handy in 1914 is a response to I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone  (Shelton Brooks 1913). Yellow Dog being the Mississippi railroad, the Yazoo Delta. Words and melody from both songs show up during the 1920s and 30s in such songs as E. Z. Rider  See See Rider,  C. C. Rider, and Easy Rider Blues.

 Joe Avery’s Piece, is clearly the popular Mardi Gras tune Second Line, but is also a dead ringer for Rock Around the Clock.   Click on the title above to hear this rollicking track from the CD with Charlie Powell doing the vocals in his immediately recognisable style.

And finally a full blooded version of Just a Little While to Stay Here again with Charlie on vocals.

This is a CD which I know I will replay over and over for many reasons – for the clarity and balance of the recording which allows you to hear each individual instrument whilst enjoying the complexity of the ensemble, Charlie’s gruff, growly trombone and inimitable vocals, Nick’s floating and stylish clarinet which improves with the years, Derek Reynold’s melodic trumpet, and a rhythm section which provides the perfect accompaniment with the occasional solo to shake their tail feathers.

A reviewer of one of the band’s earlier CD’s called it “Great jazz with mud on its boots, bruises on its knuckles and a flair for capturing the feel of the real thing”. I’m not sure that this album is as gritty as all that, but it’s one to savour and enjoy if you like New Orleans style jazz – and if you’re not a fan already, prepare to be converted.

The CD is available from Ashley Keating by email: shakers@netstra.com.au or Nick Polites by phone: (03) 9499 2594. Or better still, come and join the Louisiana Shakers at their regular Sunday afternoon gig at the Clyde Hotel, corner Cardigan and Elgin Streets, Carlton. Doors open at 12 noon, music is from 2pm – 5pm. There’s no cover charge, and booking isn’t necessary – just wander along, have a meal or a drink, listen to some great jazz, and buy a lovely CD or two.

Here the Shakers play one of the numbers from the CD a few Sundays ago- Les Fithall is filling the trombone chair on this occasion.

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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 http://www.shirazz.com.au/ 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
Intermediate:7:00-8:00pm

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 www.oztix.com.au 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.

Ultrafox ultra gigs in January

ONE of my favourite CD acquisitions in 2012 was Peter Baylor’s band Ultrafox’s “Chasing Shadows”, so when Peter turned up at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel as part of the Riverwalk Trio a few Sundays ago, I asked him to play and sing one of the tracks from the album.
We settled on “I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” (Music by Walter Donaldson; Words by Gus Kahn. c. 1925). He did a great job, but I didn’t!   Murphy’s Law dictated that I pressed the “stop recording” button instead of the “record” so missed a very pretty performance.  So when Peter turned up the next Sunday – 30 December – I apologetically begged him to do a repeat, to which he graciously agreed but the pressure of the moment must have got to him, and he forgot the words!  And no, I’m not going to show you that clip!  Here instead is the track from the album. (Just click on Peter to hear it)

All this is leading up to a couple of great gigs which Ultrafox will be presenting during January.

On Friday 18th January they will be performing at Bennetts Lane, 25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne.   Book on 9663 2856 or online at http://www.bennettslane.com. 8.30pm. $25 + $2.50 booking fee.
The lineup will be as usual except that Andy Baylor will not be playing, and Steve Grant (piano accordion) and Michael McQuaid (clarinet) will be special guests.

On Friday 25th January they will be at the Paris Cat, 6 Goldie Place, Melbourne.    Book on 9642 4711 or online at www.pariscat.com.au. 9.30pm. $20.    Michael McQuaid will be special guest.

Both performances will naturally feature the ineffable Julie O’Hara with her special brand of vocals.

Ultrafox presents the finest in Le Jazz Hot.  French gypsy jazz in the infectious style of Django Reinhardt and The Hot Club of France.  Be entertained by Peter Baylor, Julie O’Hara, Jon Delaney, Kain Borlase, and special guests Steve Grant and Michael McQuaid.  You can get more info on the band and their upcoming gigs from their website:  http://www.ultrafoxswing.com .  And why not treat yourself to a post-Christmas present of a copy of “Chasing Shadows”.

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Ultrafox CD Launch: the Baylors’ Gypsy Swing band

THE Baylor brothers, Peter and Andy, are consummate musicians who move effortlessly between different styles – traditional and mainstream jazz, western swing, rockabilly, bebop, cajun, and gypsy swing….

The trad jazz fraternity is probably most familiar with their western swing band, The Dancehall Racketeers which performed at the Victorian Jazz Club last Saturday, 10 March.

But another superb “string to their bow” (pardon the awful pun) is ULTRAFOX, the outstanding gypsy swing band which is about to launch its debut album, Chasing Shadows, named for Alby Silver’s lovely romantic ballad from the 1920s, and which Peter sings so melodiously on the disc.

Ultrafox CD: Chasing shadows

Featuring some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians, the CD is a beautifully crafted selection of 15 tracks ranging from elegant swing, through smoky mood pieces, tender ballads to Le Jazz Hot. All are firmly rooted in the traditions of French jazz – of course Reinhardt, but also other lesser known but equally gifted musicians.

Up front are the sparkling guitars of Peter Baylor and Jon Delaney. On violin is Andy Baylor whose command of all things swinging is legendary. Michael McQuaid adds clarinet and tenor saxophone to the mix. Two different bass players were used on the CD: up and coming player Kain Borlase and, on a fleeting visit from Paris where he has been living and playing for more than a decade, Sebastien Girardot. Sebastien was one of Melbourne’s precocious “jazz babies” of the 1990s who have gone on to great things in their music. (Stephen Grant, Jo Stevenson, Simon Stribling, Mark Elton, Michael McQuaid, Simon Vancam, James Clark, Ashley Gaudion, Emelia Wilmot, Eugene Ball, Lindsay Flint – I’ve probably missed some).

Julie O'HaraAnd if that weren’t enough to whet your appetites, Julie O’Hara adds her effortless vocals and her own lyrics to some Django standards and lesser known tunes.

 

THE LAUNCH of this beautiful CD will be held on Thursday 29 March at the Paris Cat Jazz Club, 6 Goldie Place, Melbourne CBD. Show time: 9.00pm Bookings on line or 9642 4711.

But if you can’t make it to the launch, Julie O’Hara will be singing with Ultrafox at the Famous Spiegeltent in the Arts Centre forecourt on Sunday March 18 at 3pm in the Jazz High Tea series. I’m sure the CD will be available then also.

As a teaser, here’s one of my favourite tracks from the CD. Royal Blue composed by Etienne “Sarane” Ferret, one of several astonishing gypsy guitarist brothers who worked with Reinhardt during the 1940s. In this track Michael McQuaid plays the part which was usually played by the violin in Ferret’s Le Swing Quintette de Paris.

For further information, CD purchases etc. contact Peter Baylor 0430 484 373 or stringbuster@pacific.net.au

Bell Award for Best Traditional Jazz Album: Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks

Leigh Barker at the Bell Awards

Leigh Barker and the Bell Awards

IN MAY 2011 Leigh Barker was awarded the Australian Jazz Bell Award in the ‘Best Traditional Jazz Album’ category for his CD – THE NEW SHEIKS – with his six-piece band of the same name.

The New Sheiks

The New Sheiks CD

‘The New Sheiks’ CD and band feature Leigh on the double bass, Eamon McNelis on trumpet, Don Stewart on trombone, Matt Boden on piano and piano accordion, and Al McGrath-Kerr on drums. The CD also features renowned Melbourne blues singer, Heather Stewart. In 2011 Heather won the ‘Vic/Tas Blues Awards’ for best debut album and best female artist, and in 2010 won the award for best self-produced album.

Leigh Barker

Leigh at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel, Richmond with Smithy's Trio

LEIGH has been adapting the early blues material and combining it with jazz and compositions from the other band members, to create a mix of Jazz, Swing and Blues that is unique and accessible.

EAMON is well known to jazz audiences around Australia, and is a master of all styles of the trumpet from the history of jazz. In 2010 he won the ‘National Jazz Award’ at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.

DON STEWART has played around the world with the finest traditional Jazz groups, including the Graeme Bell band and Fireworks Jazz. He is also a member of popular Melbourne group ‘The Band Who Knew Too Much’.

Pianist MATT BODEN lives in Paris but is originally Tasmanian. His dedication to swing and real acoustic music means that he plays a piano accordion when there is no piano available.

Drummer AL MCGRATH KERR has played with many Australian greats and also opened a concert for Cuban piano master Chucho Valdes in 2010.

CD Baby You can buy a copy through CD Baby (click on the image to the left), through reputable shops such as Readings in Carlton, Basement Discs in the City, or a new boutique music chain called Title with stores in Fitzroy, Northcote and Brunswick. Or straight from the horse’s mouth by emailing Leigh barker.leigh@gmail.com.

Barker has toured Australia extensively, usually with a Quintet. In 2010 he was asked to be the support act for jazz superstar Branford Marsalis, which culminated with Leigh performing an encore with Branford at the Sydney Opera House.

Barker with Branford Marsalis

Barker with Branford Marsalis

In other guises Leigh played with George Washingmachine at the Victorian Jazz Club gig on 19 November 2011, and with Hetty Kate and The Irwell Street String Orchestra on 12 November 2011 for the same club

Here’s a clip from the Washingmachine gig. With George are Andy Swann on drums (recently returned from touring Europe with The Syncopators), Leigh Barker on bass, and Sam Lemann on guitar. There’ll be more of this ineffable performance in a later post.