Category Archives: Tunes

Corrine Corrina: de Rosayro and others

WE were at the Clyde Hotel on Sunday 15 December for our last view of the Louisiana Shakers for 2013, and The Clyde was in festive mood as you can see.

(The Shakers will be back on the 22nd for their final for the year – bound to put you in the right mood for holidays and other celebrations, including the Goulburn Convention for those lucky enough to be making the trip. Nick Polites will be driving up on Boxing Day). The New Year starts for them on 2 February.

The band had the usual lineup of Derek Reynolds (trumpet), Nick Polites (clarinet), leader Ashley Keating (banjo), Nat Garbutt (double bass) and Kevin Bolton (drums), but depping for regular Doug Holbury on trombone was that popular New Orleans muso, Hughie de Rosayro.

A real standout amongst the many great tunes played during the afternoon was the J. Mayo Williams-Bo Chatman 12 bar blues, CORRINE CORRINA with Hughie on vocals. The video wanders about a bit – sorry, I was enjoying the music so much that I forgot to keep an eye on the camera!

CORRINE CORRINA has become a standard in a number of musical styles, including blues, rock and roll (Bill Haley and His Comets), Cajun, Western swing and folk, but a version which I particularly like is in the same tradition as the Shakers’. It is this delectable George Lewis/Acker Bilk duet which was broadcast on BBC television in 1965. I think that’s great blues pianist Stan Greig who played with many other British bands including Ken Colyer and Humphrey Lyttelton as well as his own London Jazz Big Band.

“Goin’ Home” with the Louisiana Shakers

LAST Sunday (30 June 2013) we went to the Clyde Hotel in Carlton with some friends who had never been there before, nor heard the Louisiana Shakers. Now they have, on both counts, and very pleased they were too. It was pretty sparsely populated as many of the faithful were away at the Barham Jazz Festival.

The band played many great tunes, but one we particularly liked was “Goin’ Home” which Ken Colyer composed in the 1950s. Here’s The Shakers’ version, with Doug Holbury doing the vocals in a style reminiscent of the late lamented Charlie Powell.

And here is a recording of “Goin’ Home” by Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen from 1953. With Ken on trumpet are Monty Sunshine clarinet, Chris Barber on trombone, Lonnie Donegan banjo, Jim Bray string bass and at the drums Ron Bowden.
The video clip features photos of famous jazz faces and sites in Colyer’s beloved New Orleans.

Originally I hd thought that the theme of this lovely tune was taken from “Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Largo movement” by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, but Dave Hetherington put me straight on this! Thanks Dave.

The Dvorak symphony WAS used as the basis of the gospel song also called “Goin’ Home” or “Going Home”. Here the incomparable Paul Robeson sings it.

And to close, here Chris Barber plays and sings Colyer’s “Goin’ Home” in Gouda, Netherlands in April 2013.
Chris Barber – trombone, vocals
Mike “Magic” Henri – trumpet
Bert Brandsma – clarinet
Gregor Beck – drums
Joe Farler – banjo
Jackie Flavelle – bass

David Horniblow with The Shuffle Club

LAST Sunday we went to the Rosstown Hotel to hear The Shuffle Club. They were their brilliant selves with a couple of alterations to the regular lineup: Ash Gaudion was on alto sax and Rod Gilbert on drums, but for a change we had Sam Lemann on guitar and Phil Rex on double bass. The fact that they had been playing at The Famous Spiegeltent until all hours of the morning (only 1 hour’s sleep!) didn’t dampen their vibrancy one iota.

Halfway through the afternoon, we had the added pleasure of hearing two sitins – Bob Whetstone on trumpet and UK visitor David Horniblow on clarinet. Here are three videos that I took of this combination.

GOIN’ TO CHICAGO, the Count Basie blues about the massive migration north by African Americans.

SEE SEE RIDER, a traditional 12 bar blues made famous originally by Ma Rainey in the 1920s. Shows off the blues skills of the whole band – isn’t Sam Lemann one of the best blues guitarists in town!

Finally SWEET GEORGIA BROWN, with Bob scatting

Bob and David will be playing with John Morrison’s Moonee Valley Jazz Band for the Williamstown Jazz Club at Williamstown RSL cnr Ferguson and Melbourne Roads, Williamstown tomorrow afternoon – March 24 – between 4pm and 7pm. Ring 9311 3349 to book.

Australian Jazz Real Book: a reality

Tim Nikolsky

IN January 2013 I foreshadowed the imminent publication of the first “Australian Jazz Real Book”, a collection of lead sheets or charts of Australian jazz compositions which was in the final stages of preparation by its maker, guitarist Tim Nikolsky.

Well here’s Tim with THE BOOK.

The 450+ tunes which are included are categorised into 17 styles, with the number in each category shown in brackets:
Swing (154), Straight (119), Ballad (48), Latin (43), Traditional (19), Funk (19) Rubato (10) Blues (10) Fusion (9) Bossa Nova (7) Shuffle (5) Rock (4) Afro-Cuban (3), Bebop (3), Country (2), Free (1) and Choro (1).

The lead sheets contain the melody in regular musical notation, chords and, where they exist, lyrics. There are also some more involved transcriptions where appropriate, and a few full score reductions where each instrumental part is important, and harmony parts and voicings are included.

The Book is available in hardcopy form with cover, pages and all that jazz for those who prefer the permanence and tangibility of a traditional book. It is also available in digitised form accessible online via laptop, iPad etc. You can find out details of prices from Tim’s very fine website,

Tim says that the aim of the website is to provide online access to “the definitive collection of Australian jazz tunes from Australian composers”, not only for working musicians to select Australian tunes to add to their repertoires but also to make it easier for jazz educators to incorporate Australian jazz compositions into their curricula. It will also be a resource to which students can turn for uniquely Australian tunes that are ‘gig-ready’.

For more background, see Tim and jazz pianist Bob Sedergreen interviewed by Waleed Aly on Radio National program, “The Drawing Room”. Tim talks about the genesis of The Book, and reasons for his choice of tunes. To demonstrate the effectiveness of The Book, Waleed on guitar joins the two professional musicians to play a Sedergreen composition, “Intersection”.

Even if you’re not in the market for a Real Book, the Australian Jazz Real Book Wesbsite is a mine of information, and is very well worth being bookmarked by the serious jazz follower. It lists the tunes in the Book by composer, title and category – in itself a useful resource. For many of the composers there is quite an extensive profile, with images, references to other websites and to YouTube performances of the song or the composer. There are even links to more information about the history and availability of other real books.

For example, here is the profile on the late Brian Brown, OAM who died on 28 January 2013. One of the references in his profile is to a wonderful film on modern jazz in Melbourne in the 1950s at Jazz Centre 44 in St Kilda. Click on the image below to see it.

This project has been a massive undertaking for Tim Nikolsky which has produced a very valuable addition to the fund of knowledge about Australian jazz compositions and their composrs. Well done, Tim!

A Hat Trick for Australian jazz

HAVE you ever noticed how things tend to go in threes? There is probably no real mathematical or magical basis for this phenomenon, if in fact it exists at all. We may not notice one occurrence of something, two may be a coincidence, but by the third time around, we begin to see a pattern.

Well however you explain it, for me 2013 has begun with a hat trick of things to do with Australian jazz compositions:

The first began with an idle thought on New Year’s Eve. When casting around for a resolution which I might enjoy keeping I came up with idea of dusting off a list of Australian jazz compositions which I had begun to make several years ago. Since 1 January I’ve added 333 (those 3s again!) titles to the list and attached it to this blog. You can find it from the menu at the top of the page – just click on Australian Jazz Compositions. It’s a work in progress and will be added to regularly. If you find any mistakes, have any additions, please let me know at and I’ll be delighted to incorporate them so that eventually the list may become a useful resource for those with an interest in Australian jazz.

Tim Nikolsky

I discovered the second when Alex Hutchinson (in response to my request for help in compiling the above List) told me about a much more significant project approaching its completion. Tim Nikolsky, a local (Melbourne) jazz guitarist, has been working on an Australian Jazz Real Book  for his PhD, and I understand from Tim that the work, now in its 4th draft, is at the printer at this very moment. To learn more about the project and the thinking behind it, you can read an interview with Tim (“Tim Nikolsky: Getting Real Down Under”) by Ian Patterson of the Philadelphia-based jazz website, All About Jazz published in May 2011. Amongst other things, Tim explains his reasons for his choice of titles to be included in what he hopes will be Volume 1 of a series. Not everyone will agree with his choices but that’s life, particularly in the world of jazz.

Dr Nick Ribush

The third in this trio of coincidences came to me via Mel Blachford of that great institution, the Victorian Jazz Archive. It concerns Dr. Nicholas Ribush, who completed medical studies at the University of Melbourne in 1964 and along the way played piano in the Melbourne University Jazz Band. A decade later he was introduced to Buddhism and was one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A large part of his life has been spent in publishing, writing and disseminating Buddhist teachings in Boston, Massachusetts, but he has never lost his passion for jazz.

The local public library in Lincoln, a suburb of Boston where Nick now lives, has run a monthly “classic” jazz appreciation group for the past 26 years. In January 2013 Nick will host a program on “Australian Jazz: the Melbourne Sound; the first forty years” which will be illustrated with a DVD made from images and sound recordings provided by the Victorian Jazz Archive. Watch this wonderful hour-long video which begins in 1947 with Graeme Bell and “Czechoslovak Journey” and ends in 1984 with Neville Stribling and the Sacramento Connection playing “Ragtime Dance”.

And we’re only 10 days into 2013! Let’s hope and trust that the remaining 355 days pan out as well.

“Avalon” and ‘E Lucevan Le Stelle”

LAST Sunday we were at the Riverwalk Hotel (again) to hear Ian Smith’s Trio play and sing some good old jazz, and anything else the patrons may request.

We usually take along our “Bible of Jazz Words” to refresh our memories on some of the words. This time we decided to work through the alphabet for our quota of requests, and out of the “A’s” we chose “Avalon”.

Here the Trio comprising Ian Smith on cornet, Willie Purcell on guitar and Hermann Schwaiger on bass mess about delightfully with this jazz classic! It was late in the day so they weren’t taking themselves too seriously, but I think it’s brilliant.

Now, not only does the “Bible” contain the words of hundreds of jazz standards, it also includes composer, lyricist, and often the disc from which the words were transcribed, any films the tune may have featured in, and occasionally some note of interest about the song.

We found that “Avalon” was a popular song written by Al Jolson, Buddy DeSylva and Vincent Rose in 1920. It was introduced by Jolson and his recording rose to number two on the charts in 1921.

The song was possibly written by Rose, but Jolson’s popularity as a performer allowed him to claim composer co-credit. It became a popular jazz standard, and has been recorded by many artists, including Cab Calloway, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie Durham and Nat King Cole amongst others.

The Benny Goodman Quartet played the song in their famous 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.

But what was even more interesting was that the tune’s opening melody resembles a part of Giacomo Puccini’s aria “E lucevan le stelle”, from the opera “Tosca”. Puccini’s publishers sued the song’s composers in 1921 for use of the melody, and were awarded $25,000 and all subsequent royalties of the song by the court. Here’s a clip of Caruso singing the aria. Al Jolson’s father was a devotee of opera so I suppose it’s possible that Jolson may have heard this recording (Caruso died in 1921; Puccini died in 1924) and the melody remained in his brain subliminally.

“If I Had You”: a classic jazz standard which has had more covers than manholes in Brooklyn

TOM Lord’s Jazz Discography lists 553 recordings of that romantic love song “If I Had You”, and I’m sure Tom’s missed a few.

My favourite Irish singer who lives in Boronia, Tony Feehan, does a lovely version. Here Tony sings it at the Caulfield RSL with the Moonee Valley Jazz Band on Friday 4 November 2011, the last night of jazz at that establishment.

Wondering about the song’s origins, I find that it was written in 1928 by “Irving King” (James Campbell and Reginald Connelly) with Ted Shapiro. It has become a mainstream jazz standard, and continues to be performed and used in movie soundtracks into the 21st century.

The first recording listed in the Lord Discography was by the Ray Miller Orchestra in Chicago, September 1928. The next year Sam Lanin’s Dance Orchestra recorded it with that hopeful young crooner, Bing Crosby on vocals. The Dorsey brothers were sidemen.

While we’re on a 1920s kick, here’s Rudy Vallee in 1929.

Practically every other artist of note has had a go at it, including Al Bowlly. Nat King Cole, Bob Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Roy Eldridge, Judy Garland, Georgia Gibbs, Benny Goodman, Earl Hines, Diana Krall, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Carmen McRae, Les Paul, Oscar Peterson, Johnnie Ray, Pee Wee Russell, Artie Shaw, George Shearing, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra (he’s done it four or five times!), Teddy Wilson, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan.

Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli were early recorders of it.

Benny Goodman in Yokohama in 1980.

Another gypsy version, this time the Wawau Adler Trio with Wawau Adler (solo guitar), Holzmanno Winterstein (guitar), and Panscheli Lehmann (bass) filmed in Karlsruhe in 2010.

And finally here’s a banjo trio of Juergen Kulus (in the middle, Germany), Dick Martin (left, USA) and Tom Stuip (right, the Netherlands). More about Tom Stuip in another post to come soon.

Washington and Lee Swing: most famous footy song of all time?

George Washington & Robert E Lee

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia was named after two very famous Americans. Another of its claims to fame is that it has one of the world’s best known “fight songs”, The Washington and Lee Swing.
Wikipedia says that, before it morphed into a swing, Dixieland and bluegrass standard, The Washington and Lee Swing was one of the most well known — and widely borrowed — football marches ever written. Schools and colleges from Tulane to Slippery Rock to Gonzaga to Iowa State copied it (sometimes with attribution). It was written in 1910 by Mark W. Sheafe, Clarence A. (Tod) Robbins, and Thornton W. Allen. It has been recorded by virtually every important jazz and swing musician, including Glenn Miller (with Tex Beneke on vocals), Louis Armstrong, Kay Kyser, Hal Kemp and the Dukes of Dixieland. Here’s Louis playing it with the Dukes of Dixieland.

In another style here is the version of Byron Berline, (American fiddle player), and his band.

And for a spirited version here are the Dixie Boys playing at the Gunpowder Factory, Barcarena, Portugal. The factory has been decommissioned in case you’re wondering. It’s now a cultural centre with gallery, museum, craft shops, live music etc.

I recently heard Kim Rushworth singing the parody “I got the legs from some old table, I got the arms from some old chair…..” to the tune, and my friend Bill Liddy tells me that last Saturday night at the Victorian Jazz Club, Peter Hooper’s wonderful Royal Garden Jazz Band played the tune as their opening number, and the following evening it was played by One More George at the Williamstown Jazz Club.

View of the City of Zacatecas in the State of the same name

Comparisons between Washington and Lee Swing and Zacatecas March have included allegations that Washington and Lee Swing was heavily influenced by (or even originally outright borrowed from) that earlier Mexican march, which was written in 1891 by Genaro Codino, and is the anthem of the State of Zacatecas in Mexico. It is also considered as the second national anthem of Mexico.

What do you think?

I don’t agree – but then I didn’t think that Men at Work had copied Kookaburra Sits on an Old Gum Tree, so who am I to judge?

BUT I do have a sneaking suspicion about that Rudy Vallee hit from the 1930s – Betty Co-Ed.

And thank you Bill for the idea for this post.