Tag Archives: Nichaud Fitzgibbon


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.


Stonnington — Day 10

Frock — Father, Son and Holy Ghost

I was looking forward to hearing Frock live, though this would be different — the energetic and original ensemble of Craig Beard on vibes, Anthony Schulz on piano and piano accordion, Simon Starr on acoustic bass, Adam Starr on guitar and Daniel Farrugia on drums was airing some covers of songs by Don Walker, Nick Cave and Neil Finn, which they are about to release on a new Frock album. Dan Farrugia was filling in for Dave Beck and will play on the coming album.

Members of Frock at Chapel Off Chapel

They began the set with some fun, the band waiting on Farrugia, who appeared late, and started things off by stamping a beat and jangling keys as he assumed the drumming position for Neil Finn’s One Step Ahead. Schulz moved to the piano for Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand, allegedly “butchered” or arranged by Simon Starr. Beard said it was unusual for the band to play covers rather than original tracks, but the advantage was that they were “already hits”.

Beard and Adam Starr
Beard and Adam Starr

With Schulz back on accordion, Don Baker’s Breakfast at Sweethearts was proof of how well the vibes and piano accordion work together. Schulz played piano on Walker’s Saturday Night, followed by the well known (“Don Walker has a lot to answer for,” Beard said.) Khe Sanh, which had a rock feel.

Schulz and Beard
Schulz and Beard

Frequent allusions were made to Nick Cave as the Prince of Darkness (“If he was anywhere about here he would kill us”) before Beard’s arraangement of Cave’s Into My Arms. Neil Finn’s Message to My Girl followed, with Schulz on piano, then a long interaction between accordion and guitar for Schulz’s arrangement of the Tim and Neil Finn song Four Seasons in One Day. Then things turned serious. “We know where you live, Nick,” Frock announced before Mercy Seat — the opening was most effective, with drums, guitar and piano creating a sense of drama.

Daniel Farrugia
Daniel Farrugia

Daniel Farrugia
Daniel Farrugia

Frock closed with Simon Starr’s arrangement of Neil Finn’s History Never Repeats, which Beard suggested “suits this foggy New York evening”. The band’s move into covers was full of interest, though I would prefer its longer originals. The set showed me that Beard on vibes can make his presence felt in almost any musical situation, and that a few, sparing notes from guitar and piano work a treat. That said, I’d have liked to hear more from Adam Starr on guitar, but Frock departed on a high in a gentle frenzy of piano, drums and bass.

Craig Beard
Craig Beard in a reflective moment


Nichaud Fitzgibbon — Mood Swing

At times during Stonnington Jazz gigs at Chapel Off Chapel it has seemed hard for the audience to overcome a feeling of restraint when responding to the music, as if the venue is too formal. Perhaps it is because most members of the audience are seated as if for a play or concert, rather than a jazz gig. At other times the crowd has “woken up” and responded with vigour. From the moment Nichaud Fitzgibbon appeared onstage — with Phillip Rex on bass, James Sherlock on guitar, Dan Farrugia (again) on drums and Jex Saarelaht on piano — the mood was upbeat. Fitzgibbon was the consummate entertainer, projecting enough personality thorough her vocals to gee up the most sombre crowd.

Fitzgibbon and Sherlock
Nichaud Fitzgibbon and James Sherlock

As Fitzgibbon breezed through Don Walker’s How Many Times and the Tex Perkins and Spencer P. Jones number The World’s Got Everything, it was as if we were being caressed by her vocals, as well as by Sherlock’s guitar. Frequently paying tribute to her musicians, Fitzgibbon dubbed Rex “the king of bass” before launching into the Kylie Minogue song Two Hearts, and then Tom Springfield’s Seekers hit The Olive Tree, which featured Saarelaht’s exemplary skills.

Nichaud Fitzgibbon

Fitzgibbon was a sassy, saucy woman with vocals to match in the Paul Kelly song Be Careful What You Pray For, which she dedicated to “lots of greedy people”. Then we luxuriated in Saarelaht’s deep piano notes leading into Kelly/Ceberano’s tango Untouchable and Ross Wilson’s Mood Swing, the title track of the new CD.

Saarelaht, Rex and Dan Farrugia
Saarelaht, Rex and Dan Farrugia

The link to Australian songwriters lapsed for Billie Holiday’s I Want More, “dedicated to all the ladies in the audience”, then Fitzgibbon harked back to her earlier album for Dave Fishbery’s I Don’t Believe You. Her voice was engaging and seductive, but the feeling conveyed was that of a woman who could immediately make you feel comfortable and who probably would give you credit for having more get up and go than was necessarily the case. This may seem an odd way to put it, but Fitzgibbon’s personality flowed out as if she was emanating a relaxed sense of confidence that would easily rub off on her audience. I could not help contrast her performance with younger vocalists Megan Washington and Gian Slater.

Nichaud Fitzgibbon
Nichaud Fitzgibbon

Nick Cave’s Bless was followed by Anthony Newly’s Feeling Good before the sustained applause brought Fitzgibbon back to stand beside the piano for an encore.

Nichaud Fitzgibbon
Nichaud Fitzgibbon

Then the sensuality and cheeky charm was turned full-on in the vivaciously sung You Turn Me On, Baby (Cy Coleman). We were left to reflect on the value of experience in a singer and on the consummate ease with which she could captivate an audience and enliven a venue.

Perhaps the main event for the last night of Stonnington Jazz had been over at the Malvern Town Hall for the second Sculthorpe Songbook concert, but at Chapel Off Chapel it had been an evening of fine music to end another fine festival.