Monday 21 May 2012 at Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran
Ruth Rogers-Wright, a singer from Brixton who lives in Melbourne, performed her tribute to Nina Simone at the Stonnington Jazz Festival. Backed by a four-piece group, Rogers-Wright’s act was not so much cover band as séance, channelling the spirit of Simone through song and spoken word.
Opening with Be My Husband, the singer set the mood with a soulful rendition accompanied only by drummer Hugh Harvey. He Needs Me showcased Rogers-Wright’s eerie voice as the rest of the band eased into the show.
Crowd-pleaser My Baby Just Cares for Me featured a lovely bass solo from Philip Rex and ivory tinkling from Monique di Mattina, but the real highlight was Paul Williamson on tenor sax, squawking and growling all the way through. Continue reading
Is it really a year since Allan Browne last played at Stonnington Jazz Festival?
His latest show, The Poetry of Classic Jazz, featured a five-piece band performing New Orleans-influenced jazz and the inimitable Browne sharing some of his favourite pieces of poetry over the jams.
The band leader started with a rendition of W. H. Auden’s Funeral Blues, a tribute to Melbourne drummer Peter Jones who passed away on Friday. Jones had drummed for numerous acts, most famously Crowded House, before he was struck with cancer. Continue reading
Friday 27 May 2011
Leigh Barker & the New Sheiks played at Chapel Off Chapel on Friday night as part of the Stonnington Jazz Festival. Bopstretch were in support, playing their usual mix of lush ballads and fast-and-furious bebop, with trumpeter Eamon McNelis moonlighting after the interval with the main act.
Bassist-composer Leigh Barker was joined onstage by the New Sheiks: Don Stewart (trombone), Anthony Schulz (piano) and Al Kerr (drums), along with the aforementioned McNelis. The band were resplendent in suits, looking every inch the professionals they were, and they quickly showed it with some superb polyrhythmic work off their new self-titled album. ‘Be Still Hold On Tight’ by Melbourne guitarist John Scurry was a particular stand-out as the band locked down the groove and stretched out.
For the second half of their set they were joined by guest vocalist Heather Stewart, and the night clicked into another gear. A solid cover of ‘She Ain’t No Good’ by the Mississippi Sheiks eased Stewart into the set, Schulz’s staccato piano playing complementing the bluesy vibe nicely. The singer pulled out her fiddle too on a Cajun-sounding ‘Funeral Blues’, swinging as tight as the band did as they rounded out the show with more tunes from their latest album. Continue reading
Sunday 22 May 2011
Teeing off the Stonnington Jazz Festival’s run of shows at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran, legendary Australian drummer Allan Browne was joined by the members of both his quintet and trio for a “program of musical portraits and poems”. Quite what to expect was somewhat a mystery, but the audience’s questions were answered as Browne settled in, sharing anecdotes of his days playing with jazz legends including Teddy Wilson and Milt Jackson before setting off on some fantastic musical performances. Browne read snippets of poetry between songs too, often accompanied by one of his musicians, making for laconic Australian spoken word.
The first set was blistering, with one ten-minute jam beginning its life as a 1920s New Orleans rag before melding seamlessly into a slice of Charlie Parker-esque bebop, then finishing with a soul jazz swirl.
Guitarist Geoff Hughes was versatile throughout, equal parts George Benson and Lee Underwood, Tim Buckley’s long-time collaborator. His moody playing helped set the tone for the sadder tales Browne shared throughout the show. Continue reading
City of Stonnington 19-29 May 2011
The Stonnington Jazz Festival kicked off last night with the beautiful Sarah McKenzie (left) performing with her sextet at Malvern Town Hall. McKenzie will perform again at the same venue tonight at 8pm.
The festival runs until 29 May and bills itself as “100% Australian Jazz”. Famous names to play this year include Harry Angus of Cat Empire fame, piano maestro Joe Chindamo and ex-George singer Katie Noonan, not to mention personal favourites Bopstretch.
Find out the haps at the festival’s homepage, and book your tickets here. It will be the perfect chance to pique your appetite for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival which kicks off in just a few short weeks.
The Melbourne International Jazz Festival is now less than two months away. Running from 4 to 13 June, the festival will feature reknowned artists from the world over showcasing their talents for our aural pleasure.
Jazz great Sonny Rollins, the latest incarnation of the Sun Ra Arkestra, and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are all sure to be highlights of the festival, and here at Bop Hard we will be previewing and reviewing the gigs ’til our hearts are content.
The official website features plenty of information on the shows and artists and a comprehensive guide to the festival. To purchase tickets you can click on the artist and follow the links from there. You can even follow the proceedings on Facebook.
So stay tuned to Bop Hard as the festival draws closer, and make sure you get your tickets early for some great nights of music.
I am not entirely clear of when I first got into jazz. And yes, this will be one of those retrospective essays where the writer always knows where they are heading, but pretends to discover gems along the way, walking blindly towards an obvious outcome. Yes, indeed.
In all honesty, it wasn’t until writing this down that I remembered the first story about myself and jazz. I was back at school, during assembly, and a friend of mine played a song on piano entitled something titular like Jazz for Teens or Jazz Hearts Start Young– something stupid. I remember thinking it sounded awful.
And that was my earliest memory of live jazz. Not a great one, but it sparked a series of moments that formed my early understanding of the genre, as follows:
1. Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons
Lisa is at a venue called the Jazz Hole. She is in the crowd watching an electrical violinist on stage.
Guy: [Unimpressed] Hmph, sounds like she’s hitting a baby with a cat.
Lisa: You have to listen to the notes she’s NOT playing.
Guy: [Still unimpressed] Pssh, I can do that at home. Continue reading
7.30pm 14 March 2011 at the Dallas Brooks Centre, East Melbourne
A Reserve- $130.00 / B Reserve- $85.00
Formed in 1982, the Rebirth Brass Band is a Louisiana institution. Almost 30 years later, their presence on the New Orleans scene is not only still relevant, but more importantly, still fun. Thanks to HBO’s wonderful TV series Tremé, Rebirth have been introduced to a whole new audience whose ears may never have been graced by the get-yo-ass-off-that-seat tunes which blow proudly from their horns.
And now, they’re coming to Melbourne.
Expect Rebirth to dazzle with good old-fashioned rhythm and blues, funk and soul while giving nods to modern styles like hip hop to get you dancing down the aisles, clapping your hands and singing to the roof tops.
This is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss- come and experience your own piece of the Big Easy right here in Melbourne at the Dallas Brooks Centre on 14 March 2011, with tickets through Ticketek.
Sebastien de Robillard
Uptown Jazz Café
177 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
The Uptown Jazz Café is a fine establishment just north of the Melbourne CBD. Surrounded by pubs and boutique shops, it is a little hard to find- a small white sign next to an open doorway is the sole visual cue- but the sound of jazz pouring down the stairwell is a giveaway.
Climbing the stairs you enter the bar and are immediately taken to another time and place. The décor is warm and inviting, candles cast a red glow over the tables, and a wall-length mirror gives a feeling of space.
The staff are friendly and the bar is stocked with the usual array of spirits and bottled beer. Peckish patrons can also order Japanese snacks and meals at the bar, with Uptown billing the traditional flavours of the fare ‘Tokyo style’. Continue reading