Sunny Vicars – Sunday April 11 2021

It’s a beautiful Autumn afternoon in Brisbane. Under a soft blue, Sunday sky, the river is flowing gently by the Brisbane Jazz Club.

Inside, a super-cool quartet of Jazz musos is warming up the audience. Setting the scene.

That’s Damian Sim on piano, Robert Corcoran on tenor sax, Andrew Shaw on double bass, and Dom Machen on drums.

This is a great band, with a smoo-oooth sound. And the audience is quickly settled into a sweet Sunday vibe.

So, we now know just how good this afternoon is going to be….and the best is yet to come!!

Then Sunny glides in. Sweet. Quirky. Old-fashioned gal. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, may we introduce Ms. Sunny Vicars’.

Sunny and her band are here to present, It Might As Well Be Swing: Top songs from the Swing era. Ballads to Bop. Sizzling hot to icy cool’.

And it is quite a journey. Quite a history. Quite a set-list.

There’s 1918’s ‘After You’ve Gone’, and from the 20’s, songs like ‘It Had to Be You’ and ‘Makin’ Whoopee’.

From the 30’s, songs like ‘Exactly Like You’ and ‘I Thought About You’.

Songs from the 40’s included, ‘Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby’ and ‘A Slow Boat to China’.

And among songs from the 50’s, there’s ‘If I Were a Bell’ and ‘Aged and Mellow Blues’.

And from 1960, Sunny gave us, ‘Hit the Road Jack’, featuring a glamorous chorus line of friends, Irene McLeod, Pam Hodgson and Carole Marco.

Sunny’s bio tells us that, ‘…she began singing professionally at the age of sixteen in the Melbourne Big Band scene and is an accomplished small-group singer with an unmatched vocal clarity and impeccable phrasing, that will delight any listener’.

And that is what we were treated to today…her first solo show at the Brisbane Jazz Club.

This is style. This is class.

Sunny is an experienced performer. A natural. She has the professional’s touch, with just the right amount of casual. And at the mic, she engages easily with her audience…chatting comfortably, affably and effectively.

And it is all wrapped up in her charming personality and sweet smile.

There is velvet. There is silk. There is heart-melting sensitivity. There is cheek and sass when called for. And there is fun.

There is perfect timing and beautiful phrasing. And Sunny knows these songs so well. Each word, each perfect note, loaded with the lived story, the emotion, the feeling and the spice.

Yes, Sunny is living those songs. There on our stage. And in working so well with the band, she is clearly, the fifth instrument!!

Sunny, Damian, Robert, Andrew, Dom. The music. The songs. The Brisbane Jazz Club on a sunny Sunday afternoon.     A perfect fit!!

Thank you, each one of you, for entertaining our enthusiastic audience, and for sending them home happy and satisfied. And eager to come back.

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club

The 8-Tracks – Sunday March 28 2021

There are eight talented musicians in this band. Hence, the 8-Tracks.

That’s three gifted songbirds up front – Giuliana Russo, Taryn Stewart and Amanda Harris, and 5 equally gifted musicians lined up across the back – Michael Russell on keys, David Hagger on bass, Craig MacDonnell on tenor sax and flute, Craig Wilson on drums, and Michael Smith on guitar.

Each one, a vital and indispensable cog in a powerful and thoroughly entertaining combination!! They are here on this beautiful, sunny, riverside Sunday afternoon to light up the Brisbane Jazz Club with their exciting Motown/Soul groove.

Wow!! Just Wow!!

The three girls, looking chic and very Motown in their little black dresses and long silver boots, each wore a coloured bandana around their neck. Giuliana’s was purple. Taryn’s was red. Amanda’s was pink.

And at the back, four of the five guys looked like they had stepped out of a ‘Best Of The 60’s’ video, in their slimline black suits, white shirts and skinny black ties. Setting them off nicely, was drummer Craig, in his sparkly, sequinned jacket; the one that he bought at Macy’s on Fifth Avenue, New York.

Yes. The 8-Tracks are a class act.

And what a pace!!  It was ultra-high energy and almost non-stop. Those Motown/Soul blockbusters just kept on coming!! There was barely time to take a breath, let alone a break!!

Up front, Taryn, Giuliana and Amanda seamlessly traded lead vocal and tambourine tapping responsibilities, and flawlessly delivered beautiful two and three-part harmonies. Embracing and absolutely nailing the mood and memories of the Motown era.

Had famed Motown record producer, Berry Gordy, been in the audience, he would have signed them up on the spot!!

And while none of the five guys was singing….the sisters were happy, doing it for themselves...they were all a-movin’, a-groovin’ and a-dancin’ with their instruments, enjoying themselves just as much as the girls. And bringing it all together in an amazing atmosphere and vibe.

And oh, what a set list!!

The big hits were all there…including exciting performances of…

…the famed combos…Diana Ross and The Supremes, Martha and The Vandellas, Labelle, The Marvelettes, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Earth Wind and Fire, Crazy Elephant.

…the female stars…Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Gaynor, Dionne Warwick, Amii Stewart, Mary Wells, Fontella Bass, Linda Lyndell, Gloria Jones.

and the men…Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson and Stevie Wonder.          

And, of course, with those long silver boots, they just had to do Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking, to which the band added a chaser…a touch of The Champs’ 1958 classic, Tequila.

And for one of their three encores, they touched down briefly in the 2000’s, with Amy Winehouse’s Valerie.

The enthusiastic and highly animated audience lapped it all up. Every minute of it. Song by song. Note by note. Move by move!! Barely resisting the temptation to dance on the tables inside, a group of them danced out on the deck, under the window, just below the band, who appreciated and regularly acknowledged their presence.

This was a great performance. Finely rehearsed precision wrapped up in a happy buzz, energy and presence. Seamless, powerful, memorable.

It all worked so well. And they received as big and spontaneous and well deserved a standing ovation, as the Brisbane Jazz Club has ever seen!!

It is not surprising that The 8-Tracks have such a big and loyal following. So, to make sure you can catch them next time, book early!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club

Tango Meets Jazz – Diez Cuerdas With Chloe – Thursday February 11 2021

Tonight, was the first of our new, monthly Tango Nights. And it was a very special…dare I say…historical…night at the Brisbane Jazz Club.

Providing the music…along with a running commentary on the history and nuances of Argentine Tango, which shares its working-class roots with American Jazz…were talented and knowledgeable exponents of this música, Diez Cuerdas.

Diez Cuerdas means Ten Strings; that is four from Liz Young’s violin and six from Rory Dollard’s guitar. Tonight, they were Fourteen Strings – Catorce Cuerdas – with Chloe Williamson on double bass.

And wow, these three talents certainly have the chops. Liz is from the Mendoza Tango Quartet. Rory is from Cigany Weaver and Run Rabbit. Chloe is from Tango Enigmático and co-founded and directed the Mendoza Tango Quartet from 2014-2018.

As a trio…even without a bandoneón, (the Tango accordion)…they were able to give us all the passion and range of styles that you would get from a traditional Tango orchestra.

Rory’s clean and clear, percussive, staccato guitar and Chloe’s warm, fulsome bow-played bass were the steady, reliable, idiosyncratic backbeat…the anchor.

And while Liz’s violin provided most of the deliciously toned and flawlessly delivered melodies, occasionally, the guitar or bass would cheekily, seamlessly slide in, to steal a little of the limelight.

And Liz is a great raconteur; a Tango Educator, sharing the story of Tango… the terminology, the styles, the composers…of the music that they are playing.

To appreciate everything we learnt from Liz on the night, you just had to be there. Suffice to say, that the Tango luminaries to whom we were introduced on this guided tour, included Carlos Romuald Gardel (1890-1935), Juan d’Arienzo (1900-1976), Carlos Di Sarli (1903-1960), Osvaldo Pedro Pugliese (1905-1995), Aníbal Carmelo Troilo (1914-1975) and Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla (1921-1992).

The music, presented in 3 or 4 song tandas, (sets), was expressive, uplifting, carefree, loving, playful, hopeful, peaceful, and at times, serious and sombre. And at all times, it was perfect for the dance!!

Fortuitously, recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions allows us to accommodate appropriately socially distanced dancing outside on our riverside deck.

So, with a long, wide roll of lino, some duct tape and some talcum powder, we set up a temporary dance floor. And Ole!! The dancers…many from local Argentine Tango club, Tangonut…were away!!

And, oh, those dancers!! Their elegance. Their glamour. Their style.

It was all on display in the queue at door. But once they hit the dance floor, it was FIRE!!

Think Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar in 1992’s ‘Scent Of A Woman’. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tia Carrere in 1994’s ‘True Lies’.

The sculpted precision. The intensity. The outfits. The sensuous, intimate moves. The extravagant swaying of the hips. The quick, purposeful knee bend. An exaggerated lifting of a heel and toes, (a boleo). And gently held, head-to-head embraces.

The delicate stops. The perfectly timed starts. And a feast of dance styles, including Tango salon, Tango milonguero, Tango nuevo and Tango vals.

What a night!! Two simultaneous performances. One inside. One outside.

Inside: the sublime, passionately presented Tango music from 3 talented musicians. Outside: the beauty of the dancers and their dance.

At the end of the night, the riverside dance floor was rolled up, as it would likely not have survived the Brisbane River’s next high and salty tide. However, given the success of tonight’s Milonga, that lino will be rolled out again next month.

Diez Cuerdas and Tangonut told us in advance, to ‘Be prepared to laugh, to cry and be swept away with the magic that is Tango’. 

We did it all.  Thank you.

So, all you Milongueros, be here next time, when we will do it all again!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club

PS  The music of the night was recorded by Brisbane’s Radio 4EB. It was broadcast on Thursday, February 18th, and is available for replay at Jazz and the World – 4EB –

The Mark Pradella Band – Sunday January 24 2021

Sunday afternoon sessions at the Brisbane Jazz Club are proving to be very popular, and they regularly attract a Full House. Performances like today will certainly tell you why!!

Treating us to an afternoon of exciting Jazz/Funk instrumentals and personality-filled vocal numbers, The Mark Pradella Band featured:

  • Band leader/arranger Mark on tenor, alto and soprano sax and clarinet…and, briefly, the EWI – Electronic Wind Instrument.
  • Mark’s long-time collaborators…
  • Sammy Pace on keys, under his soft black cap.
  • Ian Townson on percussion…with his unmissable Jack Daniels congas and a table full of shakers and noise makers.
  • Three of Mark’s current and/or former students…
  • Benny Wood on guitar.
  • Hal Chandler on electric bass.
  • Connor Townson on drums.

Talented father and son combo, drummer/percussionists, Ian and Connor Townson, seamlessly swapped spots occasionally. And across the afternoon, Mark introduced several Special Guests:

  • The Cool Dude. The Man In Black. Vocalist, Peter Vance, with whom Mark shares an obvious brothers-in-music understanding and an effervescent camaraderie on stage.
  • Tom Henderson on trombone.
  • Marcus Rozenberg on tenor sax.
  • Matt Teakle on electric bass.

All these guys love playing here, but for Mark, who is Head of Wood Wind and Bands at St Peters Lutheran College in Indooroopilly, his connection to the Brisbane Jazz Club goes back a long way.

Having started coming to the Club as youngster, he eventually realised his childhood ambition to play here….which, of course, he now does regularly!! And he takes great pleasure and pride in teaching and introducing his students to the appreciative audiences at Brisbane’s Home of Live Jazz!!

And what an afternoon of quality Jazz they gave us today!!

Mark’s classy arrangements were on display across a range of styles, with  instrumental and vocal numbers nicely distributed across two sets.

Among the instrumentals were touches of Pat Metheny, Spyra Gyra and Duke Ellington…and a couple of left-field tunes such as Eddie Harris’ ‘Cold Duck Time’ and Pee Wee Ellis’, ‘The Chicken’.

And neither Nat King Cole nor Eva Cassidy would have recognised a memorable swinging, up tempo, instrumental version of ‘Autumn Leaves’, with Mark on the clarinet.

Their performance of the 1947 classic, ‘Green Dolphin Street’, was just one outstanding example of the combined talent and power of these musicians.

And while all the guys had their instruments singing, vocalist Peter Vance’s voice, style, energy and enthusiasm were right at home, as he regularly stepped up to the mic with lush, velvety vocals on songs such as ‘Nature Boy’, ‘Our Love Is Here To Stay’, ‘You Can’t Take That Away From Me’…and ‘The Two of Us’, a performance which spot-lighted the powerful on-stage connection between Peter and Mark.

The band sent us on our way with a roar and a swing in our step, to The Doobie Brothers’ ‘Taking It To The Streets’ and an encore of a smooth, swinging version of Bobby Troup’s ‘Route 66’.

So, thank you, all ten of you talented musicians, for bringing your mini-Big Band sound to the Brisbane Jazz Club.

Thank you for all the Swing, the Blues, the Ballads, the Funk, the Fusion, and for every one of those ear-catching solos.

And thank you too, for the sense of joy that you brought to our stage; the memorable ‘Happy Sunday’ vibe, which the audience felt, embraced and enthusiastically applauded.

The range of ages and skills was impressive too, and with all of those youngsters on board, the future of this music at the Brisbane Jazz Club is assured!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club


Jake Meywes – Saturday January 16 2021

Electric, eclectic and an eyeful of excited musos made this sell-out BJC Saturday night a most memorable gig.

Masks off – Musicians turned on… it was hard to believe that by the first song, I was checking my phone for the time. Surely Acts don’t get “in the groove” until perhaps the end of the 1st set or the start of the second?

Jake Meywes, backed by as close to a power based Jazz group as any international vocalist could ever dream of, took the dark night away from us and immediately gave back a stellar star-studded repertoire at the Brisbane Jazz Club on the river.

Can this guy sing? Oh yeah. Can this band play? Oh yeah, yet again.

Held together by an unrelentingly perfect timing duo of Phil Jack on 5 string Bass, and the versatile Aaron West on Drums – they allowed the piano, guitar and sax to work magic around some great Jazz standards and a couple of jazzy-fied pop hits.

With José McLaughlin on the BJC’s grand Piano, Robbie Karena on semi-acoustic Guitar, and Gary Mulholland on wailing Sax, they provided Jake with an unlimited smorgasbord to let loose and sing to us in whatever way he chose. And that he did!

Frank Sinatra talked about two of his memorable favourite Live events ever – one of them was Sinatra at the Sands with Count Basie and the Orchestra (1966). There was magic in the air.

Fast forward to January 2021, @BJC.  Jake Meywes, Phil, Aaron, Robbie, Gary and José. A night that magic reappeared.

Stu Robertson 

101FM Jazz Presenter