28 August 2015


Interestingly, the musical director and pianist for the LOTS Orchestra, Filmer Flores V, also put in a solo classical piano recital as a matinee. I’ve been saying not Shakespeare, but this was close enough. He’s been playing piano since he was 4yo, graduated from a performance school then the Philippines Conservatory then won a scholarship to study in Russia and returned to teach at the Conservatory. His favourite is Chopin and he played 3 pieces, as well as Debussy and Liszt and a Philippines folk song. Some challenging pieces nicely played and quite a change. Otherwise, there were aerialists performing to pop with accompaniment of the singers and dancers (the Centrum Wow! Spectacular, no less) in the atrium. I believe this is common on ships. I saw rehearsals the day before and enjoyed the much more presented show on the day. There were two other bands performing at various times. Music Makers were a four piece covers band with a huge repertoire and a great skill in copying vocals (kbd, guit, bass, female drums; all sang). Music Motion were a trio with midi backing (kbd, guitar, both singing with female vocals). And finally, “Manila’s pop virtuoso” Reuben Laurente, did the last show with the LOTS Orchestra. I only managed the first tune after he entered with lofty self-esteem then into Moondance with all bland mediocrity. Pop eats what? The voice seemed OK but I couldn’t take the starry-shirting.

Filmer Flores V, Royal Caribbean Singers, Dancers and Aerialists, Music Motion, Music Makers performed; Reuben Laurente performed with the Legend of the Seas Orchestra.

25 August 2015


There’s always a show each night on a cruise ship and I always attend. It’s the most interesting stuff to do and otherwise I don't got to production shows like this. Perhaps I should. I do enjoy them for the immense skills, even if these skills may be applied to fairly mundane matters. But cruises are just floating resorts to me, and this is resort entertainment. There were other shows, surprisingly frequently by Australians. Maybe they are nicely available, being in the vicinity. “Australian master magician” Duck Cameron was something a bit rare for me and many. I enjoyed it all, including his Houdini straight-jacket escape routine but I may not rush back for more illusionisms. Not that I had any idea how he did this stuff. Another Aussie was Tamara Guo, a singer fronting the LOTS orchestra. Chinese background, Mandarin/Cantonese/English speaking, mother having sung opera at the Sydney Opera House in the past, strong voice and matey, jokey presentation in several languages and songs crossing into Mandarin and finishing with heavy rock (It’s my life). David Mimuzio was the onboard “multi-talented Youtube sensation”. He presented a show matching juggling with singing and a lively personality. I enjoyed the odd and venerable skill of juggling although many weren’t so convinced, at least before the show. Jake Henry performed regularly in the Schooner Bar as the resident piano man. Capable and sometimes a good for a singalong (after some beers), although sometimes too loud when the midi started up.

Duck Cameron, Tamara Guo, Jake Henry and David Mimuzio, performed on the Legend of the Seas.

24 August 2015


So they called the busy interleaved stage show giving tribute to music of the (fairly recent) past, Elton John, Dusty Springfield, Spice Girls, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey. This was busy and complex arrangements, rapid riffs of songs, joyous portrayals, some really very authentic voices, quick changes for orchestra and costumes. The dancers were at it, often 6-on 2-off or vice-versa, for costumes changes. I’ve seen one of these dressing rooms in the past, small, in doors and outs, with racks of costumes like a dry cleaner’s and plenty of velcro to hold it all together. I remain in awe of the girl dancers, always thinking of that quote from Ginger Rogers, that she has to do it all backwards and with heels. These women were all heeled, presumably with changing heels. I’d come across drummer John on the ship and he’d recommended this show; they’d just had a run-through. He was right. So busy and exciting with a string of hits. Not that I knew them all; my knowledge of Brit-Pop expires well before the Spicers and rap and there was plenty of this. Again, not Shakespeare, but thrilling, busy pop done with real panache. And how long would the dancers take to get this down without the charts the musos take for granted. Loved it.

Absolutely Fabulous was presented by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers with the Legend of the Seas Orchestra.

23 August 2015

As close as it comes these days

I waited outside the South Australia Hotel but not long enough. I missed the Beatles when they came out on the balcony to the screaming despair of Adelaide teenagers. Other than happening on Abbey Road in London, it’s the closest e ever come to the Fab Four. The Beatnix are my live alternative. I heard them years back at the Southern Cross Club in Woden and was blown out by the accuracy of the cover. The Paul character played left hand Hofner; they all sang their own parts (as best I know them); there was no recorded backing other than inevitably for Day in the Life; the costumes were apt (mop tops in suits before interval; Sergeant Peppers after). This was just one set, so I wondered how or if they’d change (they did, and neatly as mop-top Paul sang Yesterday solo on right handed guitar played lefty, switching to George in Peppers garb with While my guitar gently weeps and a great return of the full band through that tune – that was neat). The voices were there, even if some weren’t quite as close or with the same range as I remembered. There was chatter, especially (inevitably?) from John that sounded Liverpudlian enough to my ear (some Brits were not so convinced). The guitar solos were right, if missing some recording studio magic. The bass lines were good if Hofner indistinct. The amps were Fenders and a Gallien-Krueger, not Vox, but that’s OK. Ringo’s Little help was convincing and his drums nice. We all rocked along and enjoyed a range of their discography. The fact that everyone had their missing favourite just confirms how wonderful was this band. Penny Lane was my missing fave. Paul always was my favourite Beatle and Eleanor Rigby and Penny Lane still work for me as deeply personal portraits of English life and characters. We were sitting with Brits; he who recounted the Beatles live (all standing on seat backs and no one could hear them) and she who’d met John Lennon. This and other stories remind me that these were celebrities before celebrity culture; young English kids who got taken on a wild ride (they split aged 27). But these guys had genuine talent, even if the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Beatnix were a nice reminder of it.

Beatnix covered the Beatles on Legend of the Seas.

22 August 2015

Band uninvited

The Legend of the Seas Orchestra would have backed the dance show, Invitation to Dance, but the stage wasn’t big enough on this ship. It’s not small, just not big enough for 8 show dancers, 2 feature ballroom dancers and 4 singers. So we got the Orchestra playing before the show in another bar in a smaller and more improvised format. Plenty of solos and the drummer’s infectious drive. This was nice, although I prefer the interactive formalism of the charts to their solos. Then the dancers. I know little of dance and less of ballroom, but I could admire the balance and sassiness of the whole and some very decent singing (excellent when these singers played with another band later that night – they can seriously belt out some tunes and find great harmonies) and some stunning ballroom. I didn’t expect this to inspire, but these two were seriously sharp. I particularly noticed it with a twirl of the woman’s hand mirrored by the same from some show dancers. The ballroomers were seriously sharp. Someone mentioned different techniques form ballroom and stage. Not sure this was the case, but the precision was evident. Tight bods, tight movements. It’s a different world and I enjoyed the visit.

Invitation to Dance featured the Royal Caribbean singers and Dancers with ballroom dance couple Maksym and Stefanie. The Legends of the Seas Orchestra featured amongst others, Mel Villipando (bass), Sebastian DuBois (guitar) and John Alphonse (drums).

21 August 2015

Not Shakespeare but

Another night, another show. Cruise life is unconnected with reality, even if you touch on islands and countries. You come to look forward to dinner and drink too much in social lubrication. Not all bad, as the interaction can carry some worthy messages, especially around a bar or perhaps around a maudlin piano-man. And every ship has its theatre and lays its claims for the quality and Broadway-derivation of its theatrical products. It’s Broadway not Stratford-upon-Avon, but it can be good and even emotionally satisfying. Swing City didn’t really have a theme other than that dance has been around a long time or a plot other than a few performers, presumably in order. But what performers, what performance, what swing! The theme tune was Ellington’s It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing and it was a marker for the start and end. Then onwards through a rage of tunes form swing band to croon and doo-wop, viewed as fashion and entertainment with a wry eye perhaps, but great arrangements fabulously performed. The band was again tight as, back of stage, setting the performance but also distant in concentration. I particularly loved the bass, lithe and playful at times and always present and firm and drums which revelled in time and come outgoing flourishes to end. They supported eight dancers (4xmale; 4xfemale) and four singers (2xmale; 2xfemale; I guessed ~SATBaritone). Quick change costumes and groupings and vocal/dance features; short stories presented in lyrics and portrayed in dance and song; place spelt out with costume; dance placed in social context. I just revelled in the expertise in all this: the immensely great American songbook written in busy and demanding arrangements and played with precision and sung and danced with skills and professional joy. Somewhat later they would explain it as “only rock and roll but I like it”, and yet to come will be some line for rap, I guess. Not Shakespeare and not even Broadway of the ilk of West Side Story or Oklahoma. But this was musical theatrics and it was done so well.

Swing City was presented by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers with the Legend of the Seas Orchestra in the That’s Entertainment theatre. No, not Shakespeare, but.

18 August 2015

Just otherwise engaged

Thus I haven’t written for CJ for a time, but here’s an update. The Legend of the Seas Orchestra is great. Well, that’s nothing unexpected. I’m on a cruise ship out of Hong Kong. There are a few bands and the entertainment makes significant claims. The theatre stage is festooned with JBL boxes and sub-woofers and lights and curtains. Alternatively, the Captain’s reception is held with the same orchestra in the atrium, called Centrum. The captain, the various heads of various departments, the pretty girls in white providing champers and the band again. This is a great, slightly reduced big band. I presume they are out of Hong Kong, gathered from some excellent readers, tight as, concentrating but convincing, some decent solos, always confident timing and changes and the rest. First set is various big band charts, from the standards through I luv Lucy to latins, Basie and Ellington and Glen Miller. Plenty of swing in swing-era style. Later, it’s backing for multi-instrumentalist, Danny Elliot, out of Melbourne. Can I recall Danny’s instruments? Clarinet, flute, bagpipes, tin whistles, guitar, didg, vocals, piano, perhaps more. Heart-renders, rock and roll, strains of Ireland and Kazakhstan, some light classics, bumblebee or Tchaik’s first or Bolero or wherever. Capable and popular and entertaining, perhaps not master of any but impressive presenter of many, and always that band behind, concentrating, tight, with those charts. Always spot on. Such a pleasure. I have no idea of names or residence, but I expect Hong Kong. They are great players, as these performers tend to be. Impressive and a true pleasure.

The Legend of the Seas Orchestra is the resident showband on the cruise Ship, Legend of the Seas. Currently cruising the China Sea. They backed Danny Elliot (multi-insstrumentalist) ex-Melbourne.

10 August 2015

A Canberra swoon

Igitur nos did an internal "Swoon vote" (a la ABC-FM): each member listed 5 songs they'd like to do, giving ~100 votes, and from this came their concert at the CGGS Chapel on Sunday. The concert was named Angel voices and what a terrific concert it was. It was a dream to hear such a good choir, doubly so in this nice venue, glassed in with views of mock-tudor and gums and Red Hill and a lovely mid-winter sunny Canberra sky and a gently reverberant acoustic. The voices were fabulous: unwaveringly steady, clearly enunciated, softly attacked, precisely pitched, revelling in harmonies, generously dynamic, closely listened and keen eyes on conductor Matthew. I was close and noticed some impressive individual voices, too, especially the sopranos clear and soaring and tenors rich and high. The program was nicely varied. Ola Gjeilo, a contemporary Norwegian, three English songs by Stanford and Elgar, three US songs, by Barber, Lauridsen and Whitacre (interestingly, the Barber and Lauridsen used words of the same James Agee poem), contemporary Australian David Basden with a Pater noster (he was present for this performance). Also a lovely Tavener called Funeral Ikos written for the Greek Orthodox rite, Howells, Rutter and two from the supreme master, JS Bach. One was a trio sonata played by two recorders and baroque pipe organ (G major, BWV1039); the other was a Cantata (BWV106) with SATB solo voices, choir, organ, cello, 2 recorders and two viole da gamba. This was the biggest and most impressive work; the Elgar and Rutter least interested me; the Basden was wonderful as a genuine local original; perhaps the Tavener or Gjeilo or Whitacre or Barber or one Stanford were my favourites. Interestingly, I'd sung two of the program with some choir or other (Stanford Blue bird and Whitacre seal lullaby) but nothing like this. This was a revelation. Truly a choir of real quality.

Igitur nos is Matthew Stuckings (director, conductor). Singers were Greta Claringbould, Meredith Norman, Meredith Boroky, Michelle Eddy, Olivia Gossip, Jane Godtschalk, Catherine Hayman, Karina Berger, Carolyn Strange, Anne Marie Delseg, Liz Keough, Karen McKenzie, Gerard Clifton, Marcus Klaiber, Paul Francis, Todd Heather, Stephen Lawton, Andrew Freeman, Jonathon Lee and David Smith. Accompanying musicians were Anne Ewing (piano), Olivia Gossip and Robyn Mellor (recorders), Rachel Walker and Alec Hunter (viola da gamba), Clara Teniswood (cello) and James Porteous (organ). Greta Claringbould (soprano), Maartje Sevenster (alto) Norman Meader (tenor) and Andrew Fysh (bass) sang the solo parts in the Bach cantata.

09 August 2015


It's the nature of modern society that all is relative and interchanged, We call this multiculturalism or diversity or whatever but it's such a vibrant and interesting way to live. Exposed to all manners, all matters intersecting and interacting and influencing. I was thinking of this as I read the program of Salut!Baroque. I'd had a lesson with David, CSO bassist, who mentioned he'd bought a pickup and was investigating an amp and talked of cabling piano to PC to use Sibelius. So much of classical as meaning past. Kyle, another CSO bassist, talked to me the other day of jazzer Red Mitchell; he was using strings tuned in fifths, named after RM. So much the impregnability of musical styles. Then off to record Salut!Baroque playing music that's of C17th with recorders and harpsichord and gut and even a bass violin (!) but reading of the players' history. One performed Jazz at MONA; another played the National Folk Festival; another plays Rock & Roll (viola: I think back to Mackenzie Theory, a fave prog rock band from '70s Melbourne featuring viola); another led a tango band. Sitting listening to this lovely period music is all seems incomprehensible but this is our world, and the world a modern musicians, of crossed boundaries. THis was lovely. The gentle, voice-like recorders; the plucked harpsichord and the cello between the legs. The violin family looked familiar enough although sounded softer and fatter with the gut strings and baroque bows. And that very unusual bass violin, fretless, about the size of a cello, I guess tuned in fifths. Matt Greco was the main violinist and he impressed mightily with chops and feel and plenty of bodily expression. The theme was of the master luthier, presumably Nicolò Amati, a grandson in the Amati family of Cremona, who survived the plague and passed on skills that would otherwise have been lost. Nicolo Amati taught Stradivari, Stainer and Guaneri amongst others. The music was of this period, Corelli, Albinoni, Vivaldi with other names Haym, Valentino, Bertali, Fiorenza. Nice to hear lesser names, although the better knowns are often better known for a reason. A lovely outing and presumably authentic visit to a very different era.

Salut! Baroque performed at the Albert Hall. They comprised Sally Melhuish and Hans-Dieter Michatz (recorders), Matthew Greco, Annie Gard and Julia Russoniello (baroque violins), Valmai Coggins (baroque viola), Belinda Mainwaring (baroque cello), Tim Blomfield (bass violin) and Monika Kornel (harpsichord).

06 August 2015

Gareth and the Demographix

Miro joked about the demographics when he introduced the tune, Old folks, at the Gods. There was a knowing chuckle that passed around the room as most people recognised themselves. Excepting Gareth. Bob made a few mentions of Gareth. This is bassist Gareth Hill, ex-Music School and CSO and now a successful player in the Melbourne scene. He was playing with Bob Sedergreen and Ted Vining in TV's trio and I've heard him with these players before. These are seniors of the artform but strong contenders still in the modern-mainstream scene. Gareth's long hair may contrast with some thinning in band and audience, but he joins in with verve and skills and some wonderfully busy and expressive solos. Bob, too. I call this mainstream because it's less dissonant, the tunes tend to American songbook more than jazz tunes (although they appear too) and there's a real melodic nature it all. Bob's a master of playing with these tunes, chordally but especially with his wonderful playfulness of twists and discoveries and quotes and even tones. One solo was scat pure and simple, from keys: never seen that before. No shortage of smiles. The music is a platform and he's diving with twists and turns but always with relevance if with wiggled paths. Great stuff. Ted lays down beats, divides the time. He soloed increasingly regularly into the second set, with cymbals and colour or toms and rhythm. The first set was the trio for Naima, Waltz for Debby, Secret love (bass laying down the A-section melody), a traddie, some originals and others. Then Miro sat in for the second set for Stella, Milestones (really nicely done and interesting, perhaps laying a query against my mainstream description), Old folks, Alone together, Footprints and a final blues. This was not all out and floating, but deeply capable and experienced. Mainstream as you like to hear it.

Ted Vining (drums) led a trio with Bob Sedergreen (piano) and Gareth Hill (bass) at the Gods. Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet) sat in for the second set.

05 August 2015

It's warm inside

It was deadly cold outside so I didn't expect too many at Old Canberra Inn at Wayne Kelly's monthly jam session. The news that it's warm inside must have spread because it was busy as when I left, and I had to leave early for a double billing at the Gods. This trio is such a pleasure to hear as itself, but there are regular sit-ins as well as the full jam session experience. I was early and got to play with Wayne and Mark and later Ross and other. But it was noisy and busy as I left, Dave Lole was up, and over the night there were plenty of FB messages including one saying Sydney drummer Nick McBride sat in. Seems like a scene is developing here. Totally worthy: these guys are both great players and welcoming hosts.

Wayne Kelly Trio are Wayne Kelly (piano), Ben O'Loghlin (bass) and Mark Sutton (drums). They perform each Tuesday 6.30-8.30pm at Old Canberra Inn; free entry; food and drinks on tap. First Tuesday each month is jam session. Tonight's jammers included Ross Buchanan (piano), David Lole (piano) and Nick McBride (drums).

04 August 2015

Tea time

Great fun to get out, even in poor weather. Tilt was playing outside as a trio but behind some protection, so it wasn't as cold as it could have been. This was fun. James had a new keyboard to play with. I did my first singing on stage, at least outside the comfort of an SATB choir - Let's get lost, Night and day, You'd be so nice to come home to - and I had my PA out for a run. Also, a new bass, a cheap Squier PJ that's not at all bad (although I mostly played my Fender MIM Jazz with DiMarzios). Dave had his best kit out. We snuck in Nirvana and the latins were particularly comfy and lots of room for solos all round. To top it off, singer Laura sat in for a few songs. I really enjoyed this one.

Tilt Trio played at Adore Tea. Tilt comprises James Woodman (piano), Eric Pozza (bass) and Dave McDade (drums).
  • Thanks to Bob Howe for the pics
  • 03 August 2015


    Just a quickie, but we caught Hetty Kate playing with Greg Stott and Brendan Keller-Tuberg at the National Press Club. It was a busy night, the swing dancers were there in their '50s R+R finery. Hetty is noted for her swing singing, plays with the best in Melbourne and elsewhere. She passed through Canberra for recording and a few gigs with our best. NPC was a relaxed but lively venue for the night. We caught the happy hour and that was pleasant and unexpected. Heard tunes including Just the way you look tonight, Slow boat to China (what a cutie) and Jobim. Nice way to while away from Friday evening time.

    Hetty Kate played with Greg Stott and Brendan Keller-Tuberg at the National Press Club.