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 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

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 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.

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