Tag Archives: jazz

Nina Ferro at the Ellington

A month or so ago, I saw that Nina Ferro was on the calendar to perform at the Ellington.  I was so excited I bought tickets straight away – she’s an Australian female jazz singer that I had heard on the radio a very long time ago and bought two of her CDs.   She’s not so Aussie now as she’s been living and working in the UK for the past few years.

So, last night, after a busy day running around, We settled into a table at the Ellington, ordered some finger food, had a glass of wine and had an extremely enjoyable night.  Nina is extremely talented and sang a range of jazz to more soul/R&B tunes last night, including many originals or reworkings of other songs that just worked really well.   I love her rich velvety tone and her relaxed timing and phrasing – she sounds as good live as on her recordings.  She did cut loose on some scatting for a couple of songs – I wish she did that even more as I love the bebop scatting sound and she’s obviously got the talent for it!

Got to meet her during the break, buy her latest CD, and let her know that we did use some of her CDs as background quiet time music for our kids 🙂

One thing I couldn’t believe though was that the Ellington was not packed at all.  Why not?  This was an ideal gig for the small cozy venue!  

I have to say, major props to Ben Vanderwal on drums.  This guy is amazingly talented and plays so tight, right on the beat.  I spent a while last night just enjoying all his variations and ease at which he plays.  Good stuff 🙂

If you missed last night, you can buy her CDs here – http://www.ninaferro.com/

Sorry no photos – last night I decided to just relax and take in the music rather than burden myself with the camera!

By the way, tonight – Phil Emmanuel playing bluesy guitar!

Disappointed at York

We just came back from an excellent weekend with friends at a farm near York.  Trail bike riding, 4wd’ing, too much food, campfire at night, chillaxing in Parkerville.

But one thing that was disappointing was the York Jazz Festival.  We popped into York on Saturday to see what was happening and hopefully catch one or two artists.  Our family are keen jazz fans, but the other 2 families not so, and plus we had a total of 5 kids towing along with us.   So, we thought, maybe the Idea of North would be palatable for everyone.

First stop was the Town Hall.  Where we found that we had to buy a full day pass – no individual session tickets.  6 adults for a Saturday pass = 6 x $99 = ~$600.  Whoa…  that’s a lot to watch one artist.  OK.  Let’s kill that plan.

So, let’s walk around York and see what’s happening.  After all, it’s meant to be a “street festival experience”. 

There were the markets – tucked away from the main street, smaller than expected and not very happening.

There was… well that was it.  One trad jazz band playing in some restaurant courtyard.  1 busker on the street, not even playing jazz.  Some dude under a blanket blaring really good dixie and swing jazz from a collectables/2nd hand shop right up the street. 

I was disappointed.  I’m sure the performing artists were top notch.  But wandering around York, you wouldn’t even know that there was a town/street jazz festival on.  Maybe it’s more happening at night?  Maybe my expectations were totally wrong.

Why isn’t the main street closed down with a street party/festival atmosphere?  I heard there used to even be go-kart races down the main strip.  Maybe it’s not meant to be a street/town festival anymore.

Why aren’t there individual session tickets for casual visitors?  What if you’re a family going to York for a day outing and maybe want to watch only 1 or 2 artists?  Or if you’re not really into Jazz but want to have a taste?

Why isn’t there a street stage with free concerts?  Maybe with young school bands or local Perth artists?  That will draw families to go to York, who then may buy tickets to see some artists, or if they want to see 3 or more sessions, buy a full day pass.  I would have thought I could walk down the main street and encounter a couple of bands along the way.

Why weren’t there more local Perth artists?  Or even school bands?  There used to be many school bands playing on Sunday morning.  And I know there are MANY children learning jazz instruments in Perth.  Why aren’t they going to the York Jazz Festival?

Why are the markets tucked away behind buildings and not on the street itself?  Make the main street the market!

Maybe I’m comparing the price with Big Day Out ($140), Summadayze ($136), Future Music Festival ($136), Southbound ($140 for one day), West Coast Blues’n’Roots Festival ($119).

Maybe I’m confusing York Jazz Festival with my visions of a York Festival or York Street Festival. 

Maybe the organisers are trying to run it like a rock, indie or pop music festival.  I’m no expert in running and organising music festivals… but from walking down the street, York just didn’t seem to be happening..  something’s gotta change. 

Maybe I should stop ranting now…

Jazz and Lindyhop at Hale photos

A few weeks ago, I attended a jazz evening at a Perth school.  It was a really fun night, showcasing many of the school’s own talented jazz ensembles.   To help get the parents on the floor, Shane and Ruth from Swing It came to give a short introductory class of lindyhop. I was surprised and happy to see the dance floor totally crowded with enthusiastic parents, trying to do rock step triple steps 🙂

After the class, Shane and Ruth did a lindyhop performance for all.  I took quite a few shots – but it’s surprisingly hard to get a good dynamic lindyhop shot where the dancers and their faces are visible, whilst capturing the energy and motion of the dance.    

Swing It Performance


I took along my Nikon 85mm 1.8 and did not regret it at all – it takes such amazing shots in low light.

Sax solo


To end the night, the school’s soul band took to the stage.  I snuck right up in between the stage and the dancers and tried to capture the raw energy of the crowd.

Soul Band

James Flynn at the Ellington

James Flynn at the Ellington

After a delicious and indulgent date night dinner with Wifey on Friday, we decided to pop into the Ellington. If you’re into Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Michael Buble or like Paul Anka’s Rock Swings album, you should catch James Flynn, Perth’s very own one man Rat Pack!  He was backed by a “mini” big band made up of many experienced professionals. 

Although it’s not quite my thing anymore (lindyhopping has focussed my jazz tastes on late 1920-1940s jazz), the crowd there on Friday really appreciated the swinging hits, even with some dancing breaking out!  I like how relaxed James is on stage and how he interacted with the audience making an entertaining night. 

James Flynn at the Ellington

I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots at the gig. As usual, the dim lighting at the Ellington really tests the performance of my Nikon D80 at ISO 1600. The shots look OK at this resolution, but if I were to blow them up large, I don’t think they’ll look that great. I tried a few shots at ISO 1250 too, but I really need to upgrade to a newer body with better low noise performance. New D3, D700, D700x?

More details: http://www.jamesflynn.com.au/

Photos at The Ellington

Jamie Oehlers

Jamie Oehlers

Victoria Newton

Victoria Newton

Victoria Newton 

 A few months ago, we went to see Victoria Newton at The Ellington, Perth’s new Jazz club.   It was yet another great night there! 

I decided to bring along my camera as I love taking concert photography, even though it means having withdrawing myself from just relaxing and enjoying the music for a while.

I snapped a few shots with my D80 and 17-55 f2.8, but boy was it dark in there.  Darker than I expected!  I had to bump ISO up to 1600 and beyond, which unfortunately is really grainy on the D80.  I managed to use ISO 1600 and take some usable shots during “still” moments, but I wish I had brought my 50 f1.8 or could afford a D700 with much better low light performance.

These photos have been sitting around on my hard drive for a while, so I took some spare, but frustrating, hours last night to do them up.  Frustrating, because my only computer at home to do photo editing is an old Dell laptop with a Pentium M 1.7GHz CPU and only 1GB RAM!   Photoshop was swapping to disk like anything!  Need to upgrade my computer.

I also realised last night that I really need to make up a signature brush that I can use on my photos.  Should I just go with scanning in my signature?

Hank Marvin at the Ellington

We were pretty tired on Friday last week…. and we so nearly didn’t make it to the Ellington.  The lure of sitting on the couch in home clothes with the girls, watching a DVD with the kids was overpowering!  But we had bought tickets, so we pulled ourselves there and what a wonderful night we had! 

At first, I was skeptical about whether Hank Marvin would be able to pull this off, but I think it worked in the end.  It’s a bit weird, but my parents and my Wifey’s parents were the generation to listen to The Shadows.  As with kids and their parent’s music tastes, Wifey had quite a bit of exposure to Hank’s early days.  Lately, Hank has been dabbling in the gypsy jazz style of guitar that Django Reinhardt is famous for.

From looking around at the average age on Friday night – I’m guessing that there were quite a few Hank Marvin fans there 🙂

So..  great atmosphere, nice wine and tapas, friendly service, and great table….  but the stars of the night for me though – Nunzio with his virtuosic accordion solos and Gary Taylor on rhythm guitar who had an amazingly infectious rhythm and was so solid, holding the whole thing together – well done!

The only thing missing from the night – a swing violinist.. hmm..  let’s see – I swing dance.. and play the violin..  although improvising is a whole new game.  I wish!  Anyways, it did inspire me to get out my Minor Swing again.

Night out at The Ellington

So our fortnightly date night landed us at The Ellington, Perth’s new jazz club…  well, Perth’s only dedicated purpose built Jazz club at the moment I believe!  Thumbs up to Graham Wood who has put much energy (and money) into this project.

Buying a ticket

First I went to their website – http://www.ellingtonjazz.com.au/.  There were a few options and I was already confused with the number of options.  You can book standing room, or a table for a particular session.   Luckily you can pay for the ticket online, but you just get an email receipt and a booking number to quote when you get there.

Some things to note:

* Yes you can arrive before your allocated table time and stand at the bar or chill upstairs
* The table ticket is for a seat at a table – there may be others sitting on the same table as you

I wonder if it would work better if you could book/pay for a whole table for yourself instead.. Hmmm…

Getting in

Located across the road from what used to be a dodgy inner city park, it wasn’t too hard to find parking.  But even though I had already bought 2 table seats online, we still had to queue outside the entrance, listening to Cantaloop wafting out of the club.  People around seemed to be fairly well dressed…  

There are actually 2 queues outside – one for people who have prepaid or made a booking, and one for people who haven’t.  Unfortunately the queues weren’t signposted, so we had to ask the doorman where to queue, and so did a few others after us.   I was thinking that all the drivers going down Beaufort Street must be wondering what the queue outside this place is all about!  It surprised me that I had to queue to get into a jazz club, but once inside the still fresh smelling wooden door, I could tell why – the entrance/ticket booth area is really small!!!

Bonus points for a bus stop right outside the door.  And at the end of the free transit zone from the city too!


I love it!  Small, cosy, dim interior…  it still smells so new.  Actually smaller than I expected, but it makes it more intimate.  There seemed to be abundant bar and wait staff around being busy.  The early band were on their last song of their set, so we wandered upstairs where there are a few intimate and even darker chillout rooms with the downstairs music being piped from speakers.  Would love to come with friends and hang out in rooms where we can’t see each other 🙂  The two bars seem quite comprehensive with many wines on offer, and by the glass too which I like.

Graham’s band finished and we stood around, wondering how to get onto our allocated table that was still occupied from the previous session…  a quick word to the staff and they helped move the patrons there upstairs.  As I had guessed, we had to share our table with another group, but luckily the staff helped move us to a bench table/seat with a higher, more central and clear view of the stage, just metres away from the stage.    I wonder if there’s a better way to deal with cycling the tables around, but I’m not sure how.

Martin Taylor and Alison Burns

Martin Taylor is a living jazz guitar legend!  His performance on Friday night was so masterful – it’s so enjoyable to see someone who is so at one with his instrument.  It just looked too easy for him at times, but each piece was like a delicate sculpture that ended perfectly.   I loved their sense of rhythm, the way he just sat on the beat and the harmonies used.

He is currently touring with Alison Burns, his daughter-in-law.  My wifey commented that it would be akin to her touring with my Dad.  Weird!!  Alison has a lovely warm voice and her singing style was just right for the laid back songs chosen, but I would have loved to hear her cut loose and scat with more uptempo charts.

They mixed up their sets with some solos from Martin, and this is where more of his guitar genius was exposed.  The highlight for me?  The second last piece of the night, a solo guitar rendition of “I Got Rhythm” where Martin masterfully played a walking bassline, rhythm section and melody (by pinky), all at once, left hand working overtime…  amazing. It would have been technically so difficult!  He then proceeded to finish the night with an encore playing 5 separate parts of a reggae tune at once that was a crowd pleaser.

I hope I’m not a jazz snob, but I was surprised that 2 tables of people actually left during the second set (in the middle of a piece even if I remember correctly!)  I know, jazz guitar is not for everyone, and maybe they were expecting more acid jazz, blues, funk or something, but these guys were amazing!  Perth audiences…

Unfortunately, the more delicate, quiet and concert nature of solo vocal and guitar jazz meant it made eating and the wandering wait staff more awkward.  Still, it is great to have an intimate venue like The Ellington to host performers like this.  Any larger venue would just not have the same atmosphere.

End of the night

So, some intimate jazz and 2 red wines later, it was suddenly 11pm and we left extremely satisfied and already thinking of which act to come back and see.  And thinking of becoming a member to keep this place going…  Perth needs this!

If only they could get someone like Kurt Elling over for a night or two, or 1 week residency…   that would be truly divine.

I also wonder what The Ellington’s policies are on dancing at the club.  There is a small, but wooden section at the back where the standing room is.  I’m sure some swing dancers would love to dance to June Smith in 2 weeks time 🙂  Maybe we just need to buy more drinks to make us more economically viable!

Check it out!


Jazz night out

I was fortunate to accompany my wife to the annual jazz concert at her school last week.   This annual concert showcased their many jazz ensembles in a more casual and classy atmosphere.  I must say that I was impressed by the standard of these young boys – some who have only “learnt” jazz for a year or so.   Hopefully having people who danced to their playing (even though they’re mostly their parents!!!) and playing with pros like Adrian Kelly helps to inspire them more.

With a dance floor provided, we were able to do some lindyhop to swing charts that they played.  We’ve been so busy this year with work, moving house, holidays and extra curricular activities that we haven’t been able to dance much at all, so it was great to be able to dance together again at last.

I couldn’t resist taking some photos of the event as the stage, lighting and the bands provided wonderful subject matter.   Here are some shots from the night:

Jazz at Hale
Jazz at Hale
Singing Minnie the Moocher
Singing Minnie the Moocher
The saxes
The saxes
Adrian Kelly solos
Adrian Kelly solos

Jazz in the City

If you live in the dullesville of Perth, then get out to one of the Jazz in the City events, being presented as part of the Perth Winter Arts Festival.

It’s great how the City of Perth have an arts festival in the Winter time!  It’s also great to promote jazz and in this year’s festival, there is even an event for lindyhop, a jazz dance of the 30s and 40s.

Looking at the program here, the Hullabaloo Hoppers, who are team of enthusiastic and fun lindyhoppers, and other local lindyhop dancers will be dancing their socks off at 4pm on Saturday and at 2pm on Sunday right in the middle of the city in Forrest Place.    Dressed up in vintage gear, and dancing to big band swing music from the 30s and 40s, this should be a fun event.

I was also excited to see the Hip Mo Toast Big Band on the line up for tonight.  Unfortunately, the kids insisted on a popcorn and DVD night, so I had to give it a miss.

If you want more info on local Perth swing dancing events, visit http://www.perthswing.com/.