Category Archives: STONNINGTON JAZZ 2013

Stonnington Jazz is a popular festival featuring Australian jazz and improvising musicians. It is an annual event with a program devised by artistic director Adrian Jackson, who also fulfils that role for the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival.

SHAKEN AND A LITTLE BIT REHEARSED

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina        (Image supplied)

ARTICLE

Ausjazz blog takes a look at how singer/songwriter Monique diMattina has taken some song ideas through customs, taken a flight overseas, and come home with a new album

It’s an intriguing and original way to record an album: Take an idea provided by someone else, spend 45 minutes writing lyrics and a melody, carry those ideas on a plane to New Orleans, team up with some fine musicians and lay down the tracks at Piety Street in the Bywater.

That’s how Monique diMattina made her fourth album, Nola’s Ark, on a pilgrimage to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA to the locals) when she was 20 weeks pregnant.

The imaginative approach to song writing is not new for diMattina, who appears weekly on Tim Thorpe’s 3-RRR program Vital Bits for her Shaken Not Rehearsed segment, in which she writes and performs a song within an hour, based on listener’s requests.

The gestation of the second track on Nola’s Ark, Dig A Hole, is an example of how this creative and courageous process works.

First, there’s the challenge, issued by diMattina over the radio waves: “I’m here to write a song, every Sunday, so at 7.45 the challenge is out there. Call in and give me an idea and I’ll run off and write it.”

Then comes the idea.

A listener rings in: “I want to have my Saturday morning lovin’, but I’ve got to go out and dig trenches because of all the rain.

diMattina: “Oh, don’t you hate that.”

Listener: “I had to, yesterday.”

diMattina: “So you want your Saturday morning lovin’, you have to get out from under the doona, put on your … “

Listener: “Get the shovel out of the shed, and dig trenches down the side of the house so little rivers will escape my property.”

diMattina: “And who’re we talking to?”

Listener: “Greg

The delivery: In 39 minutes, diMattina has lyrics and a melody for Dig A Hole For Love.

It starts like this:

Come on babe hug me ‘coz I’m feeling all right

It’s warm under the covers gonna take you for a ride
She says “Hold on baby what you tryin to do?
you knooow I can’t stay and get hot with you –
cos the water’s risin, so quit your cryin and
Pick up a shovel dig a hole for love

This is a familiar routine for diMattina at 3RRR. On her website, she explains:

“Assuming I arrive on time, listeners call in 7.45am with a song idea. I hole myself up in Studio B, pray to the song gods, align my chakras with a complex ritual involving caffeine … and more caffeine … and receive whatever chaff they throw me.

“Some time just before 9am I play the fresh-born song live to air, coughing, spluttering, covered in vernix, but usually alive.”

Another caller, Rick, rang in after a Melbourne summer downpour wanting a song about the release of rain on the dry, dry earth. He had a property in Gippsland.

“I was struggling a bit, Tim,” diMattina says on air.

“It just felt like a bit of a boring song about rain and stuff and then I remembered the feeling, when I was living in Harlem when Obama came in, and Rick said, if release had a smell that the smell of the earth after rain would be it. And that started to strike a nerve with me, so that helped me along.”

The result was the song Bring On the Rain.

diMattina does not shy away from serious topics. Her song Godzilla is a response to a request from Steven, who had been watching footage of the devastation caused by 2011’s earthquake and tsunami on Japan and its nuclear reactors. He likened the images to Godzilla stomping across Japan.

As diMattina originally sang Godzilla on Triple R, she did without her piano “in solidarity with our friends in Japan”.

At Piety Street, the line-up for Nola’s Ark was diMattina on vocals, piano, Wurlitzer and Hammond organ, Leroy Jones on trumpet, Rex Gregory on clarinet, Loren Pickford on sax, June Yamagishi on guitars, Matt Perrine on acoustic bass and sousaphone, Eric Bolivar on drum, Richard Scott on accordion and Anthony Cuccia on percussion.

The talented ensemble is used to good effect on the five hastily written and four other originals, plus standards Young at Heart (Richards/Leigh), Let’s Do Something Bad (Matt Munisteri), I’ll Be Seeing You (Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal) and Numb Fumblin’ (Fats Waller).

If it seems surprising that songs written on the run could work so well when taken into a New Orleans studio with musicians new to the composer, it’s worth taking on board diMattina’s long affection for the music from NOLA.

In her album notes, she writes that all her life she has “loved and lived off the sounds and spirits of this swamp, that cross time, swim seas, pump blood for dancing, singing, crying winging, for suffering, truth, for soothing, sneaky grooves that move and woo”.

It would be interesting to know whether the five people who rang in with their ideas to Triple R are aware that they inspired a song that would be recorded overseas. And diMattina’s approach to composing raises the possibility of jazz fans turning up at gigs with a riff or two they want turned into a tune to be played on the night.

If instrumental “jazz karaoke” does take off, you heard it here first.

ROGER MITCHELL

CD-BABY-Nolas-Ark-cd-cover-300x

Nola’s Ark is being launched on Friday 24 May at Chapel Off Chapel as part of a Stonnington Jazz concert with singer/pianist, Kate Kelsey-Sugg.

Joining Monique will be six Australian musicians who are guaranteed to help her launch the album with verve and panache: Eamon McNelis (trumpet, vocals), Stephen Grant (accordion), Paul Williamson (saxophone), Doug de Vries (guitar), Howard Cairns (sousaphone, bass) and Tony Floyd (drums).

Monique diMattina studied at the VCA in the mid 90s, then studied and worked in the US. Her earlier albums are Senses (2007 Elwood Records), Welcome Stranger (2010 Head Records) and Sun Signs (2011 Head Records).

Nola’s Ark is released on Jazzhead.

Monique diMattina has some of her Triple R songs on her website.

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina       (Image supplied)

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VOCALISTS OF CALIBRE

FESTIVAL OPENING: Stonnington Jazz opens on Thursday, 16 May with Jazz Vocals Showcase

There were two options last night — stay home and watch the Opposition Leader respond to the Budget, or hear two vocalists at Malvern Town Hall. Not a difficult choice, really. One wonders whether Tony Abbott would judge these accomplished singers as “vocalists of calibre”.

As usual it was a great night at the festival’s opening concert, on this occasion featuring vocalists Kristin Berardi and Michelle Nicole, each with top bands. It’s not an evening — or the venue — for hard core jazz fans, but in the elegant setting of the town hall, with patrons at candle-lit tables, it is fitting for the launch of this festival celebrating 100 per cent Australian jazz.

Here are a few images from the concert, which will repeated tonight, May 17, at the same venue.

The sets were very different, as you’d expect from these vocalists, but both demonstrated their immersion in, and the joy they obviously take from, the music they present.

Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi at Malvern Town Hall with Brendan Clarke and Carl Morgan.

Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi and Carl Morgan.

Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi

Kristin Berardi and Brendan Clarke.

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole with Jonathan Swartz and Geoff Hughes.

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

Michelle Nicole

ROGER MITCHELL

A FESTIVAL GIVES VOICE

Johnny Tedesco

Johnny Tedesco in Chris Hale’s suite Sylvan Coda, which will close Stonnington Jazz.

PREVIEW: Stonnington Jazz 2013, May 16 to 26

In last year’s preview of this much-loved festival I wrote, “It’s a big year for vocalists”. Well, back then we didn’t know what “big” meant. So, to borrow the words of Paul Hogan as Dundee, 2012 wasn’t a big year, THIS is a big year for vocalists.

It’s taken some ferreting about in the program, and I may have missed some, but on my count 22 vocalists are performing at Stonnington Jazz this year in 18 concerts, with two taking to the stage twice. You have to admit that for a festival lasting 11 days to provide patrons with so much vocal talent is an amazing achievement. By the way, of the 22, only four are men, so there is a definite gender imbalance. But among instrumental players it’s skewed in the other direction.

This year’s outings do not all feature vocalists, of course, but a look at the singers’ gigs is a good place to start when browsing the program with a view to selecting highlights.

Kristin Berardi

Winning vocals: National Jazz Awards winner Kristin Berardi at Wangaratta.

The opening night concert at Malvern Town Hall on Thursday 16 May at 8pm will feature National Jazz Awards winners Michelle Nicolle and Kristin Berardi in a Jazz Vocals Showcase. Both are well known and much-loved artists, with extensive experience and acclaim. Nicolle will be accompanied by her long-standing band, Geoff Hughes (guitar), Tom Lee (bass) and Ronny Ferella (drums). Berardi will treat us to Sydney musicians Carl Morgan (guitar), Greg Coffin (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Tim Firth (drums).

It’s worth running through all the other vocals gigs in date order:

Thursday 16 May, Globe Café, 8pm: Rita Satch
Jazz standards and originals from Satch’s EP Awoken. Band: Luke Howard (keys), Phil Rex (double bass) and Hugh Harvey (drums)

Thursday 16 May, Red Bennies, 7pm: Herb Armstrong
Floor show featuring the music of Louis Armstrong as well as Zydeco and Second Line grooves by Brisbane’s Herb Armstrong and The Royal Street Krewe.

Friday 17 May, Globe Café, 8pm: Tamara Kuldin
Sass and sophistication of the vintage eras from Melbourne’s Tamara Kuldin with Paul Williamson (tenor sax, vocals), Steve Paix (keyboard) and Kim May (bass).

Saturday 18 May, Globe Café, 8.15pm: Rebecca Mendoza
Music of Billie Holiday by Melbourne’s Rebecca Mendoza (daughter of jazz pianist Noel Mendoza), accompanied by Joe Ruberto on piano and piano.

Sunday 19 May, Chapel Off Chapel, 2pm: Julie O’Hara
Swinging classic jazz in the “gypsy swing” style by Ultrafox vocalist Julie O’Hara with guitarist Peter Baylor, Michael McQuaid (saxophone, clarinet), Jon Delaney (guitar) and Andrew Scott (bass). Another set will feature Coleman Hawkins songs by saxophonist Michael McQuaid’s Coleman Medallists.

Sunday 19 May, Globe Café, 5pm: Mandy Meadows
Jazz infused with soul, Motown and blues from Meadows with Alexander Nettelbeck (keyboard), Aaron Searle (saxophone, woodwinds, guitar), Andrew Horneman (drums, guitar) and Jon Mellor (electric bass).

Vince Jones

Much-loved: Vince Jones performs at Stonnington Jazz.

Sunday 19 May, Trak Live Lounge Bar, 8pm: Vince Jones
Originals and contemporary versions of jazz standards by much-loved jazz vocalist, trumpet-player and composer Jones with Simon Barker on drums, Matt McMahon on piano and Ben Waples on bass.

Tuesday, 21 May, Chapel Off Chapel, 8pm: Josh Kyle
Interpretations of Australian jazz compositions, sung by Kyle with pianist Sam Keevers under the title Songs of Friends.

Wednesday 22 May, Chapel Off Chapel, 8pm: Cameron Giles-Webb and Hetty Kate
Pianist Steve Sedergreen’s band features these vocalists with Gianni Marinucci and Brae Grimes (trumpets), Dave Palmer (trombone), Lachlan Davidson and Paul Williamson (saxophones), Shane Ryall (guitar), Kim May (bass) and Michael Jordan (drums). Another set by Anton Delecca Quartet.

Wed 22 May, Café Latte Upstairs, 8.30pm: Emma Franz
Filmmaker Franz is a guest with a trio led by pianist Dr Allan Zavod, who has played The Glen Miller Orchestra, Frank Zappa, Sting and Jean-Luc Ponty.

Thursday 23, Chapel Off Chapel, 8pm: Jacki Cooper
One-off outing by Bob Sedergreen’s Come Together Band with Cooper on vocals, George Golla guitar, John Morrison drums, Mal Sedergreen saxophone, Gareth Hill bass and Dave Palmer as trombonist, arranger and bandleader.

Thursday 23 May, Globe Café, 8.15pm: Diana Clark
Interpretation of the Brazilian music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and other pioneers of Bossa Nova by vocalist Clark and guitarist Doug de Vries.

Monique diMattina

Monique diMattina has recorded an album in New Orleans. (Image supplied)

Friday 24 May, Chapel Off Chapel, 8pm: Monique diMattina and Kate Kelsey-Sugg
Originals by singer-pianists. Monique diMattina dips into her latest album, Nola’s Ark, recorded in New Orleans, which draws inspiration from traditional jazz, blues and R&B, accompanied by Eamon McNelis trumpet & vocals, Stephen Grant accordion, Paul Williamson saxophone, Doug de Vries guitar, Howard Cairns sousaphone & bass and Tony Floyd drums. Kate Kelsey-Sugg, who took second prize at last year’s National Jazz Awards is joined by her father, Andy Sugg saxophone, McNelis trumpet, Marty Holoubek bass and Aaron McCullough drums.

Friday 24 May, Globe Café, 8pm: Julie O’Hara
Elegant, romantic, swinging and hot ’30s and ’40s Paris club music delivered with some vocalese by vocalist and composer O’Hara and her band.

Saturday 25 May, Chapel Off Chapel, 8pm: Hetty Kate
Elegant, swinging interpretations of standards by Kate with Daniel Gassin (piano), James Sherlock (guitar), Marty Holoubek (bass) and Danny Farrugia (drums). Second set by the always uplifting Paul Williamson Hammond Combo.

Saturday 25 May, Globe Café, 8.15pm: Fem Belling
Music of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Blossom Dearie, Sarah Vaughan, Liza Minnelli by vocalist and violinist Belling backed by Joe Ruberto on keyboard.

Fitzgibbon and Sherlock

Nichaud Fitzgibbon performs at Stonnington Jazz in 2009 with James Sherlock.

Sunday 26 May, Malvern Town Hall, 2pm, Nichaud Fitzgibbon
Tribute to Peggy Lee by Fitzgibbon, who continues the legacy her father began at Smacka’s Place. Accompanied by Luke Howard (piano), James Clark (bass), Danny Fischer (drums), Craig Fermanis (guitar), Anton Delecca (saxophone), Paul Coyle (trumpet) and Dave Palmer (trombone).

Emma Gilmartin and Gian Slater

Emma Gilmartin and Gian Slater in Sylvan Coda, which will close the festival.

Sunday 26 May, Chapel Off Chapel, 2pm: Gian Slater, Jacq Gawler, Emma Gilmartin
Sylvan Coda suite by bassist Christopher Hale, winner of the 2012 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, with flamenco and Afro-Cuban influences. Also features Johnny Tedesco (percussion, dance), Nathan Slater (nylon-string guitar), Julian Banks (saxophone), Simon Barker (drums, percussion) and Javier Fredes (percussion). Opening set by Red Fish Blue.

The performance of Sylvan Coda will be a highlight, I’m sure. The performance at Bennetts Lane in February this year was a beauty — read Ausjazz blog’s review.

The other outings I’m particularly looking forward to — if I don’t have to work — are as follows:

  • Jazz in Focus at 6pm on 17 May (Allan Browne shares stories about his career in a free session presented by APRA at the Globe Cafe)
  • The Australian Art Orchestra’s Hard Core on the Fly at Chapel Off Chapel on 20 May at 8pm  — spontaneous solo and ensemble improvisation in which younger musicians work with Scott Tinkler (trumpet), Peter Knight (trumpet, laptop, electronics), Erkki Veltheim (violin), Simon Barker (drums), Brett Thompson (guitar), Scott McConnachie (alto saxophone), Matthias Schack-Arnott (percussion) and Ida Duelund Hansen (double bass).
  • The second set at Chapel Off Chapel on the evening of 21 May, when drummer, band leader, raconteur and poet Allan Browne will lead a sextet through original music inspired by his published poetry, Conjuror. Allan will be joined by Eugene Ball (trumpet), Phil Noy (saxophone), Marc Hannaford (piano), Geoff Hughes (guitar) and Nick Haywood (drums).
  • Sydney-based and internationally renowned pianist Mike Nock will play a set of improvisations with guitarist Stephen Magnusson and saxophonist Julien Wilson at Chapel Off Chapel during a performance — including a set from the Jex Saarelaht Trio — beginning at 8pm on 23 May. Nock’s gig with Magnusson at Wangaratta last year was magnificent.
  • Recent inductee to the Australian Bell Awards Hall of Fame, James Morrison will join pianist Joe Chindamo at the Malvern Town Hall at at 8pm on Friday, 24 May. In the first set Chindamo, accompanied by Philip Rex (bass) and Danny Fischer (drums), will rearrange familiar music as a tribute to Dave Brubeck. Morrison and Chindamo will then play duets or with Rex and Fischer.

That’s the preview. It’s a feast for lovers of vocals, with lots of other highlights. And of course Stonnington Jazz is always a  friendly festival with a really nice vibe. That may be in part because it is displaying the talents of Australian jazz musicians.

Full program details are available at Stonnington Jazz website.

ROGER MITCHELL