Earthquakes, violence in the streets, Covid numbers climbing … what else can go wrong?
Well, as many of us no doubt anticipated, the jazz and blues won’t be happening at Wangaratta again this year due to the vaccination targets agreed on by national cabinet not being attainable in time.
However, the good news is that the National Jazz Awards will proceed as online concerts and that the festival promises to return in the flesh on Cup weekend in 2022. That’s cause to celebrate, surely.
Here’s the announcement posted on the wangarattajazz.com website:
“In light of the continuing COVID restrictions, organisers of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues have made the decision not to proceed with the 2021 festival, however the much-loved National Jazz Awards, a highlight of the event, will be presented in a series of free online concerts from 29 – 31 October 2021.
The 10 National Jazz Awards finalists will be announced at the end of September along with details of the online schedule. The awards, which feature piano this year, have attracted strong interest from across Australia. The Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues plans to return in 2022 to its traditional long weekend dates leading up to the Melbourne Cup. The program will be announced in April at a special launch event in Wangaratta. We thank our audiences and artists and look forward to returning live in 2022.”
As Victoria begins another lockdown and once again musicians and venues face cancellations and postponements, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of how important live music has been in the short interludes in which we have been able to escape pandemic restrictions and get out to hear it.
The idea is to share images rather than words about these gigs, but it is hoped that the photographs capture some of the magic in performances that have cost little to attend compared with those in grander settings and yet have brought so much joy to those in the audience and, I’m sure, those at work on stage who have often had little opportunity recently to play for people in the same room and not on screens.
Schulz – Tsiavos meets Omelette Socialist Jazz Club Friday 25 June 2021, Cross Street Hall, East Brunswick
Anthony Schulz (accordion) and Nick Tsiavos (acoustic bass) have been, in their words, “exploring the instabilities of improvisational practice to develop a musical language that transcends the idiosyncratic ideas around their instruments – at all times searching for beauty within the chaos and dissonance of modernity”.
In the engrossing opening set on this Friday evening, Tsiavos and Schulz produced plenty of beauty, but also much tension at times. One image in the gallery below reveals the intensity – even ferocity – that can be conveyed on the accordion. There was literally not a dull moment in this encounter.
In the second set, Jordan Murray on trombone joined Ronny Ferella on drums and Stephen Magnusson on guitar as Omelette, creating in the moment as they do so well. Later they were joined by Tsiavos, Schulz and Sam Keevers on piano to cap off a sublime evening – again demonstrating that the Socialist Jazz Club’s “experiment in collective energy” has delivered.
I have fond memories of travelling south from London in my Bedford van in 1979-80 to hear traditional jazz at the Lord Napier pub in Croydon, then hailed behind its stage as Britain’s leading jazz pub. Indeed it was there that I met Debra Frey. We are still together, but sadly the Lord Napier has closed permanently and we have not been out to hear that much trad jazz over the years.
Luckily for fans of trad jazz, Eugene Ball is curating a series of Thursday concerts at Uptown Jazz Cafe, dubbed Old’sKool Thursdays. Here are the bands and line-ups for February. Thanks to Eugene for the information.
Marky Mark Goes Olds’Kool
Mark Elton double bass, Steve Grant piano, Lyn Wallis drums, Eugene Ball trumpet, Jo Stevenson clarinet
Mark Elton lives a nomadic existence, trotting the globe from gig to gig. Fluent in all styles, he was raised in the early jazz community of Melbourne, and is perhaps best known as the bassist in the Hoodangers. More often a bridesmaid, this is a rare outing for Mark in the role of leader. He has assembled an all-star cast for the occasion!
The Lagerphones come from a traditional jazz heritage unique to Melbourne, finding influence not only in the Hoodangers and the Red Onions, but also Japanese popular songs, country, and various contemporary palpitations. After five tours in Japan and several Australian iterations, they are finally expanding from their paltry six-piece band to an expansive septet, featuring Ben Harrison (trumpet), Jon Hunt (clarinet), Justin Fermino (saxophone), James Macaulay (trombone), TBC (piano), Jono Browne (bass), and Nick Martyn (drums). For this special performance at Uptown there will be several new songs as well as the opportunity for some dancing, drinking, and singing along.
John Scurry’s Reverse Swing – CD Launch
John Scurry guitar, Eugene Ball trumpet, Brennan Hamilton-Smith clarinet, Steve Grant alto saxophone, James Macaulay trombone, Matt Boden piano, Howard Cairns double bass, Danny Fischer, drums
John and the crew are so proud to launch their second album, Early Risers, into the world. Join the celebration with this epic cast. Formed by John Scurry to revisit swing-inspired small group acoustic jazz with a contemporary bent, Reverse Swing takes its repertoire from a broad musical palette, influenced by early jazz, standards and popular music, and showcases many of John’s original compositions.
“Sometimes Scurry’s music sounds like swing or mainstream, or even modern jazz, in reality it is Ellingtonian, defying categorisation” – Eric Myers, The Australian.
The Blue Devils
The Blue Devils are a Melbourne based band playing traditional and swing jazz. Led by reed player Jon Hunt, the band focuses on the music of Sidney Bechet, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington and has a passion for featuring some lesser known 1920s and 30s gems in their sets. During the three years Jon spent living in New York he regularly played and recorded with Grammy winners Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks and toured throughout the US, Europe and Asia with Gordon Webster’s swing band. Before moving back to Melbourne permanently, Jon recorded his album House Rent Blues with many of the musicians from these bands, and is excited to continue to explore this music with his new group The Blue Devils.
Details of the months to come will be posted as they become available.