Tag Archives: Barry Wratten

Barry Wratten and the Crescent City Serenaders with Margret RoadKnight

YESTERDAY (Tuesday 27 August) Iwas listening to Geoff Tobin on Radio 3INR FM’s jazz program Mainly Trad as I do most Tuesdays.   This week Geoff had as his guest outstanding clarinetist Barry Wratten.  Barry has been a devotee and interpreter of New Orleans style music for almost all of his 50 years in the business, and his reminiscences about the Crescent City – where he lived for many years -and the influences of its music and musicians on the growth of jazz around the world were fascinating.

This program reminded me of a fabulous concert which Barry and his Crescent City Serenaders, and featuring renowned singer Margret RoadKnight, presented at the Surrey Music Cafe in November 2012. The concert had special significance as it marked Margret’s 50 years as a professional performer.

Margret is not a singer who can be pigeon-holed.

Quoting from her website: She has sung blues, jazz, gospel, folk, comedy, and social commentary songs in concert halls and cathedrals, clubs and campuses, from Broome to Hobart, Beijing to Memphis, Paris to Auckland, Edinburgh to Tel Aviv, New York to Seoul, Amsterdam to Dublin, New Orleans to London, Vancouver to Nuku’alofa.
But whatever she sings she does it with warmth, charm, passion, wit where appropriate, and a stunning virtuosity.

Filmmaker Nigel Buesst was in the audience on that November evening and recorded the whole program. I’ve chosen 2 tracks from the two dozen he filmed to give you a feel of the whole, but I could just as easily chosen 22 others, given the richness of the choice.  

The lineup in itself was sensational:  Barry as leader on clarinet, Michael McQuaid on trumpet and soprano sax, Chris Ludowyk on trombone, John Scurry on guitar and banjo, David Allardice on piano, Andy Ross on double bass, and Lynn Wallis on drums!

My first choice is a Sidney Bechet song which is not often played, BECHET’S FANTASY. It has a beautiful pairing of Barry Wratten on clarinet and Mike McQuaid on soprano saxophone.

For a change of pace, I’ve chosen CREOLE JAZZ. As Barry points out, New Orleans music has many Caribbean influences. Lynn Wallis’s mastery of its tricky rhythms demonstrates why he is regarded as one of Australia’s finest jazz drummers. I’m sorry that the track stops rather abruptly, but that’s how it was.

As I said earlier, this is only a taste. Another chance to hear Barry and his band, this time The New Orleans Pelicans, will be at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, 1 – 4 November. I think they will be playing on the 1st and 2nd of November, but check the program to be sure.

In the lineup for that occasion will be outstanding young trombone player, Shannon Barnett. Shannon is currently based in New York and has recently had great success playing in Copenhagen with a fantastic Oz band, Ragstretch, led by Chris Tanner (The trumpeter is actually Swedish!). She will be in Australia towards the end of the year, so look out for any gigs she may have while here. Lars Ole Christiansen filmed Ragstretch playing PANAMA at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013. (see below) You’ll find other tracks from the same Festival uploaded on YouTube.

Gatsby Spring Soiree, and other Jazz Age gigs

JUST look at this poster!     Baz Luhrman’s “The Great Gatsby” has made the Jazz Age trendy, cool, hip, whatever but our musicians have been doing it for years. The Gatsby Swing Soiree at the Malvern Town Hall on 25 August will feature three special bands – the recent joint Mike McQuaid/Leigh Barker venture, Mike’s Retro Five; the suave Andrew Nolte and his Orchestra, and the rousing Crescent City band, Barry Wratten’s Pelican Brass Band. And all on the one playbill.

Doors open at 8.00pm. Book here.

Andrew Nolte has built his professional career on the music and style of the Jazz Age, not only with his Orchestra and its 1920s/30s repertoire, but also with his own Gatsby-era elegance.

You have the chance to enjoy Andrew and his Orchestra at several other gigs during August.

They’ll be at The Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Road, Brunswick (near the Brunswick Town Hall) on Sundays 11, 18,and 25 August from 4.00pm – 7.00pm.

And at The Pinnacle, 251 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North on Saturday 31 August, also from 4.00pm – 7.00pm.

Major Milestones for Margret RoadKnight this weekend

Margret RoadKnight celebrates her 70th birthday this year and the 50th anniversary of her first professional performance.

Barry Wratten on clarinet and David Allardice on piano will help her celebrate these two milestone events on Sunday 21 July 2013 at Bennett’s Lane, 25 Bennetts Lane, CBD.   2.30pm   Bookings online or by phone 9663 2856

A Surfeit of Riches: Jazz Choices this Weekend

THIS coming weekend – 23 and 24 February 2013 – there seem to be more jazz choices than usual in and around Melbourne, and that’s not including the regular gigs which have to be factored into the equation.

One of the least publicised, and in my view most enjoyable jazz festivals is on this weekend: The Eltham Jazz, Food and Wine Festival runs from midday until 9.30pm on Saturday the 23rd and until 5.30pm on Sunday 24th. I suppose you could call it a boutique festival with all performances on two Stages in the middle of the shopping centre in Main Street, Eltham opposite the the Railway Station. It’s free, no bookings required, and the delights include The Allan Browne Quintet, Cairo Club Orchestra, Bop Kick with Julie O’Hara, B# Big Band, and The Syncopators. as well as lots of choices for blues lovers.

New Orleans Pelicans Brass Band at the Festival in 2012

A very special highlight of the Festival is the traditional street march by Barry Wratten’s New Orleans Pelicans Brass Band accompanied by Amelia the stilt walker on Sunday morning at 11.30 followed by a performance on Stage I until 1.15pm when The Melbourne Gospel Singers will take over. Click here for a full programme with times.

Saturday 23 February Grumpy’s Green – 125 Smith Street, Fitzroy:
In lieu of John Scurry’s Virus which has the regular Saturday afternoon spot at Grumpy’s, “Jason Downes and Friends” will be playing. Jason will be joined by Leigh Barker, Matt Boden (Tasmanian born pianist now living in Paris) and Marc Meader (Netherlands) on drums for a fun afternoon of jazz. The session will run from 3.00-5.00pm (earlier than normal). Phone: 9416 1944
The band will be playing a mix of tunes from the 20s-50s and Jason says sit-ins and stragglers are welcome.

On Sunday 24 February Smithys Scallywags: featuring Danni Smith on vocals will be playing at the Bentleigh Club, Yawla Street, Bentleigh. Our great Melbourne jazz treasure Ian Smith has put together a wondrous show to celebrate the release of his new CD of tracks recorded over several years, some of which feature daughter Danni. He has invited all the musicians who are on this CD to take part on Sunday to help launch it. The 9 piece all-star line-up will not all be playing at once, but in a variety of combinations during the afternoon, so this will be truly a jazz extravaganza. Danni is flying down from Byron Bay to be part of the shindig. So if you’re free on Sunday afternoon, (or even if you had something else planned), this will be an event seriously to be considered. (Please note how I avoided a split infinitive there! My English teacher would have been proud.) A delicious two course luncheon is included.
There is still time to book with Diana Allen but you need to ring her on 5258 3936 by midday on Friday.

Sunday 24 February @ 4.00pm Montsalvat: Ted Vining Trio CD LAUNCH:
This concert is to celebrate the re-release of Ted Vining Trio’s 1981 Live at PBS FM . By popular demand, Newmarket Music has produced a CD of this sellout Jazznote LP recorded in December of 1981. The performance will be held in the Barn Gallery, Montsalvat, 7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham, and will be in memory of the Trio’s great bass player, Barry Buckley, who died in 2006.

The lineup will be Bob Sedergreen – piano, Gareth Hill – bass, Ted Vining – drums with special Guests: Alan Lee – vibes/percussion and Ian Chaplin – alto saxophone.
The MC wil be: Jim McLeod – presenter of Jazz on Saturday, on PBS , 106.7 FM from 9.00am to 11.00am (not to be confused with the Victorian Jazz Club’s long-running program, Jazz on a Saturday, which goes to air on 3CR, 855AM from 2.00pm to 4.30pm)
Tickets: $20 /$15. Bookings on 9439 7712 or at the door.

Shirazz at Queenscliff:
On Sunday 24 February Matt Dixon and his lads will be heading down to sunny Queenscliff for a jazz picnic in Citizen’s Park, Queenscliff. The Park overlooks Port Phillip Bay and is ideal for a picnic and a relaxing afternoon taking in the sea breezes and your favourite jazz tunes.

Where: Citizen’s Park, Gellibrand Street, Queenscliff
When: Sunday 24 Feb, 12:30 – 3:30pm

Sunday afternoon Feb 24th :
The New Melbourne Jazz Band will be at the Monash Hotel, 2077 Dandenong Road, Clayton, from 1.00 pm-till-4.00 pm. The New Melbourne, under leader Ross Anderson, has been one of our favourite bands for more than half a century, as well as earning an international reputation through its many overseas tours. Special Guest on Clarinet and Vocal will be Kim Rushworth.(drummer Ben Rushworth’s Dad, as if you didn’t know!)
Ross says they are all looking forward to lots of “FUN JAZZ” with Kim and Peter Uppman doing “Scat Vocals” as well as playing your requests. There is no cover charge. For bookings phone 9544 8011.

Crescent City Serenaders come to Mornington by the Sea

BARRY Wratten’s poster says it all!    Barry’s wizrdry on clarinet, informed by years spent playing in the Crescent City itself and elsewhere, have 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 a cast of these fine musicians – Michael McQuaid on trumpet, Richard Mander on bass and sousaphone, Peter Baylor on banjo & guitar, and Lynn Wallis, that master of New Orleans drumming.

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.

Also on the poster is a Voodoo good luck doll. (I sleep with a Guatemalan Worry Doll under my pillow, and often wear a Navajo ghost necklace of juniper seeds, so I’m prepared to believe that the Voodoo doll is just as efficacious!)

This should be an afternoon of beautiful jazz played by musicians who have the technique, the understanding and the passion to bring it all together for themselves and for the lucky listeners.

Corner of Burgundy and St Philip Streets, New Orleans (photo: Barry Wratten)

Crescent City Serenaders with Margret RoadKnight: a WOW night at the Surrey Music Cafe


IF you can remember the 1960s’ late night jazz sessions at Frank Traynor’s Jazz and Folk Club on the corner of Exhibition and Little Lonsdale Streets – or if you’ve only heard tell of them – you will want to join Margret RoadKnight and Barry Wratten to relive those heady, youthful days of Melbourne jazz.

You can do this at a slightly different cafe (they have tables and chairs, and they finish at 11.00pm rather than start) – THE SURREY MUSIC CAFE at the Box Hill Community Arts Centre, 470 Station Street, Box Hill on Friday 30 November.

Barry Wratten

Barry will be leading his Crescent City Serenaders comprising jazz greats David Allardice on piano, Chris Ludowyk on trombone, Michael McQuaid on trumpet and reeds, John Scurry on guitar and banjo, Andy Ross on bass and Lynn Wallis on drums.

Margret RoadKnight


And if this wasn’t enough, legendary jazz, blues, gospel, folk singer Margret RoadKnight has just returned from New Orleans to perform with the band.

I’m feeling breathless and speechless already!

The program will be a virtual history of New Orleans jazz as it evolved from Gospel Hymns and Brass Band “second lines” and a mix of Ragtime and Blues.

This is one of those rare programs where everything is in the right place at the right time, and lovers of New Orleans jazz should make sure that they are there too.

Tickets $18 by phone 9262 6555 or on line at www.surreymusic.com.
Doors open at 7.30pm. Music starts at 8.00pm

And thanks to Barry Wratten, here’s a memento from those earlier days: Smacka Fitzgibbon, Jim Beale, Peter Mackay, Barry, and Frank Traynor accompanying Margret RoadKnight at the 1968 Port Phillip Folk Society Concert, Great Hall, University of Melbourne.

Margret RoadKnight: who needs a microphone!

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.

Barry Wratten at the Surrey Music Cafe

WHERE’S the Surrey Music Cafe you may ask?
Well it used to be in Surrey Hills in a cafe, but it has now moved to the Box Hill Community  Arts Centre, 470 Station Street, corner  of Combarton Street, Box Hill to accommodate a larger audience.
Barry Wratten will be playing there on Friday 25 November at 8.00pm and with a stellar band:

Barry on clarinet & vocals
Ian Orr, trumpet
Chris Ludowyk, trombone
John Adams, piano
Andy Ross, bass
Lynn Wallis, drums

Barry Wratten at the Surrey Cafe

Wine and cheese. Coffee & cake for sale from 7.30pm

Music from 8.00.  Tickets $18 at the door ($16 if pre-booked)   Telephone 9262 6555 or on line at www.surreymusic.com

Even if Friday Night Jazz at Caulfield had still been a calendar event, this would have been a highly tempting option. Now that the lights have gone out (metaphorically) at Caulfield, this opportunity to hear some high class jazz is way too good to miss. No dancing – save it for Saturday at Clayton RSL!

The Surrey Music Cafe has a monthly music programme on the last Friday of the month. The 2012 programme will start in April. Check their website www.surreymusic.comfor details.