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…
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!