St Kilda Jazz Stories (2019)

Director: Kaye Blum

Featuring  Eugene Ball, Bob Barnard, Rebecca Barnard, Margie Lou Dyer, Peter Gaudion, Judy Jacques, Vince Jones, Nick Polites, John Scurry, Bob Sedergreen, Ted Vining, Paul Williamson, Julien Wilson and Barry Wratten,  Bill Armstrong, Len Davis, Cameron Paine, Ian Stanistreet, Horst Liepolt

Soundtrack: Warwick ‘Wocka’Dyer with Frank Johnson’s Fabulous Dixielanders, Judy Jacques and the Yarra Yarra New Orleans Jazz Band, Bob Barnard on trumpet with Len Barnard’s Jazz Band, Allan Lee on vibes with Len Barnard’s Modern Jazz Band, Allan Browne’s Red Onions, John Scurry’s Reverse Swing, and the Margie Lou Dyer Quintet.

I thought I was running late for this session, but it turned out there was a band before the screening so they were still playing before I arrived. I did get to talk to Rebecca Barnard about the oil pastel sketches I did of her dogs before the screening also.

I had heard about St Kilda being known as a Jazz hotspot before it became better known for punk and rock and roll but had not looked into it myself. I did know about Claypots being a meeting place for jazz enthusiasts and am a fan of the more recent band Jazz Party. Gil Askey did a guest spot with Harry Angus at one of the Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes’ residency shows at the Toff in Town back in 2011.

I did not expect to see Rebecca Barnard in this at all. I knew she did Jazz gigs but I did not know about her family having a Jazz history and the story of her mother and father deserves a documentary of its own. She told the best story right at the end and it could have gone on from there.

As with any music scene there is an evolution with venues and each of the interviewees explained their roles in each of them over the decades. The arrival of the Beatles in Melbourne changed everything and the music evolved also.

St Kilda was a lot less expensive to live in those days so a lot of artists and musicians lived there and Vince Jones said they wouldn’t mind him practicing his trumpet at midnight or having people play the song on piano all day to practice.

Unlike today where there seem to be more women in the jazz scene it did seem to be male dominated back in the day except for Rebecca’s mum and the famous Ruby Carter for Ruby Tuesday. Funnily enough I go to the toilet after the screening and the name “Ruby” had been written on the toilet wall already as a memorial.

The director said she was researching the Espy and found out about the jazz scene from there and the other venues that it had been played at.

Due to development a lot of these venues are no longer around and have gone from popular memory as not many people except the people who played there still know about them. As they said in the Q&A they were lucky to get all the people they did as some of them are not going to be around for much longer and one of them passed away earlier this year.

The subject of rights clearances came up as an audience member asked where they got some footage as it was their brother. The director said it was from the National Film and Sound Archive and they had to pay full price due to not having a grant. Also they were not allowed to give the footage out as they did not have permission from the owner. Paul Harris also said they wanted to get a music documentary for the festival one time but it was $12,000 for music rights.

The director had contributed a lot of the 8mm performance footage themselves and had filmed a lot of interviews for an online project, but wanted to include different footage for this release. There was about 24 hours of footage over 4 years but they managed to cut it back to 38 minutes. They would make a longer documentary if they got funding but can’t make it shorter if they want to include everyone.

They did want to include more people, but decided to go with people they knew directly as going through managers was a bit hard.  Horst Liepolt was initially interviewed over the phone from New York after the director found him via a Google search and then filmed on an iPhone. PBS FM offered a studio space to film some interviews so they would get good sound quality.

It was a good documentary and I found out in the credits that the trumpet seen in the background of most of the interviews had a history which contributed the documentary also.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *