Grand Sugg-estion

The cover of Andy Sugg’s latest album, designed by Alisa Tanaka-King.

The Andy Sugg Group, The Jazzlab, 4 May 2021
Doors 7pm Music 7.30pm $25 or $20 concession

Just bobbing up briefly from among the beehives and honey frames with a reminder that tonight The Jazzlab hosts The Andy Sugg Group playing compositions from Andy’s last three albums, which were recorded in New York.

Andy Sugg on tenor saxophone will be joined by Brett Williams on piano (who featured on Grand & Union along with Sugg, Alex Claffy on electric and acoustic bass and Jonathan Barber on drums), Danny Fischer on drums and Cuban bassist Yunior Terry, who also will be at The Jazzlab for Undercurrents on Tuesday 18 May.

Two previous albums by The Andy Sugg Group – a Melbourne-based quartet that explores post-Trane improvisation – Tenorness and Wednesdays at M’s—were also recorded in Brooklyn and feature Sean Wayland (piano/keys), Matt Clohesy (bass), Mark Whitfield Jnr and Nate Wood (drums).

Expect references also to Sugg’s Stravinsky Jazz Project, which draws on Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, in particular its radical approach to rhythm imagined for a primitive, prehistoric fertility ritual.

Roger Mitchell

Cool club goes Old’skool

Bassist Mark Elton in action with Allan Browne in May 2012

Old’sKool Thursdays at Uptown Jazz Café,
177 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Doors at 8pm, music from 8.30pm

Cover charge: $20/$15


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.

February 4

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 Largerphones

February 11

The Largerphones

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

February 18

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

February 25

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.

Women released from lockdown

Fem Belling performs in War Cry at Stonnington Jazz Image: Roger Mitchell


Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival
11-14 December, 2020
The Jazzlab, Leslie Street, Brunswick

The release from Covid-19 lockdown and some relaxation of the requirements for live music performances have come just in time for this year’s MWIJF, albeit in a condensed version over four days.

Full details of the performances and line-ups are available on the MWIJF website, but here is a brief synopsis of what’s on offer. All performances will be conducted according to Covid-safe practices.

Friday 11 December
7pm (doors 6.30pm): Amelia Evans Quartet

Young musicians Amelia Evans vocals, Russell Tay piano, Blakely McLean Davies double bass and Alex Spicer drums did into the Australian Jazz Songbook to pay tribute to women musicians including Judy Bailey, Kristin Berardi, Sonja Horbelt and Michelle Nicolle.

9.30pm (doors 9.15pm) Holly Moore Quartet (NYC/Melb)

Saxophonist Holly Moore, back from New York, leads a new quartet featuring Kade Brown piano, Robbie Finch double bass and Luke Andresen drums in originals and standards, drawing on European jazz and post-bop.

Saturday 12 December

7pm (doors 6.30pm): Kate K-S (USA/Melb)

Also back from New York, after six years there, Kate K-S will be singing her originals with Brett Williams piano and Andy Sugg saxophone, drawing on jazz, electronic, folk, pop and soul music.

9.30pm (doors 9.15pm) Thando

Zimbabwean born and Melbourne based singer-songwriter Thando will take her audience on a journey of loving oneself and reflection.

Sunday 13 December

4.30pm (doors 4pm): Developing Artists Initiative – Poet Street

Nine-piece Melbourne ensemble Poet Street will move from lockdown to live in-the-flesh performance with music influenced by Alice Coltrane, Esperanza Spalding, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. Co-presented with Adam Simmons’ The Usefulness of Art, Poet Street features Isabella Bradbeer voice, Sophia Basile trumpet, Genevieve Kuner alto saxophone, Madeline Browne tenor saxophone, Chanel Langdon baritone saxophone, Summer Nguyen piano, Alisha Karunagaran guitar, Phoebe Clark electric bass and Barbara Brady drums. 

7.30pm (doors 7pm): Opening set Femina Duo

Fem Belling voice/violin and Mina Yu piano/arrangements will explore the mirth and melancholy in jazz standards.

Katarzyna Wiktorski Octet

Polish-born Melbourne pianist and composer Katarzyna Wiktorski will lead an ensemble in exploring light and dark landscapes that create an emotional, ornate listening experience. The octet consists of Katarzyna Wiktorski piano/compositions/arrangements, Jade Nye alto saxophone, Chloe Sanger violin 1, Blakely McLean Davies violin 2, Alexi Kyrkilis-Kalathas cello 1, Ffion Stoakes cello 2, William Base bass and Oliver Ledi Hanane drums.

Monday 14 December

7.30pm (doors 7pm): Transients (Keller/Wilson/Anning)

Andrea Keller created Transients trios after the death of the esteemed Allan Browne in 2015. This concert features the original line-up of Andrea Keller piano Julien Wilson reeds and Sam Anning bass.