Across four nights each week, for 51 weeks of every year, the Brisbane Jazz Club presents a melting pot of Jazz styles…complemented by an occasional pinch of the Blues, a touch of Soul, or a shot of Rhythm and Blues.

And every night, the experience is enhanced by the magic of our unique riverside location and vibe.

Now, should you be looking and listening for one performance among many, to perfectly showcase what our Club is all about, then tonight would be a great place to start….

On the outside, it’s a hot and steamy late-Spring Thursday night. On the inside, it is even hotter…and oh, so cooool…because The Bowery Hot Five are in the house.

With a set-list that bounces, bumps and glides through…‘a little Swing, some fresh Latin, a sprinkle of Groove, a touch of Blues, a taste of Country, a pinch of Gospel and mix it up with a lotta love and good vibes’….

…The Bowery Hot Five are…

Mal Wood on trumpet, vocals, Tibetan singing bowl, ventriloquy, stand-up comedy, and a non-stop, two-step-shuffle.

John Reeves on piano and accordion.

Cassie Whitehead on tenor and alto saxes.

Elliot Parker on double bass.

Rodney Ford on drums, vocals and sit-down comedy.

This band has been around for a long time. In many, and ever-changing combinations.

Mal joined what was then, the Matt Murphy Hammond Combo, twenty years ago. Eventually morphing into today’s Bowery Hot Five, they have always been a shape-changing jigsaw puzzle; ‘a band of band leaders’.

And tonight, five great local musicians, playing in this combination for the first time, led us through a little bit of everything, musically…and at the same time, gave us a bit of a Geography lesson.

Around the world in 80 Days?  Well, 150 minutes.

There were lots of tunes from the Home of Jazz…the good ol’ U.S. of A…including Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose, Shelton Brooks’ Darktown Strutters Ball, and Ray Henderson’s Bye Bye Blackbird.

We were in New York City, for the Miles/Trane classic, All Blues, before heading down to New Orleans for Iko Iko, and into the Deep South for Sweet Georgia Brown. Then across to California, for a swinging, Jazzed-up version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary, on which Rod provided the vocal…after first coaxing and coaching an enthusiastic audience into providing and maintaining a slick and well executed bass line.

Then they took us across the Atlantic for a sweet little nod to Edith Piaf’s Paris at the end of a John Reeves accordion solo, and a visit to Montreux, for Eddie Harris’ Cold Duck Time.

There was a taste of the Caribbean, with a reggae-rhythm take on, ‘A Closer Walk With Thee’, before heading to South Africa for some Cape Town Jazz, on African Marketplace.

Was that really John on piano and Mal trumpet, or were we hearing Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela?

From there, they took us high into the Himalayas…to Tibet…for a sublimely slow, low and hauntingly atmospheric, Singing Bowl Concerto…which, led my Mal on the Singing Bowl, was composed and improvised, there and then, on the spot. Beautiful!!

‘Is that bowl in D? Nah. Let’s go with E’. 

What a great night!!

We appreciated many stand-out moments, such as when Rod, comfy and chilled, stepped up to a stool for a vocal solo, for Nancy Wilson’s, Save Your Love For Me.

We applauded every flawless solo. We laughed along with Mal and Rod’s cheeky interplay schtick.

We loved it all!!

Thank you, Mal, John, Cassie, Elliot and Rod.

As Mal sang….

I like Jazz and you like Jazz. Iko Iko an day.

Will you come down to the Brisbane Jazz Club,

And dance the night away?

Jocomo fee nan nay.


Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club