Not For Discos
Directed and Edited by Joel Checkley and Produced by Belinda Ensor for Museums Australia (Victoria)
Reproduction of this content for public purposes must be approved via Museums Australia (Victoria).Copyright
Museums Australia (Victoria)
Contemporary Jazz in Victoria
Meet the Australian Jazz Museum Collection Manager Mel Blachford, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club owner Michael Tortoni and jazz musician Julia Messenger as they highlight three unique aspects of contemporary jazz culture in Victoria.
A French Love Song, written by Julia Messenger, copyright SkipSister Records, recorded live 22 February, 2014 at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.
Love Sick Blues, written by Julia Messenger, copyright SkipSister Records, recorded live 22 February, 2014 at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.
My name’s Michael Tortoni. I am the proprietor Bennetts Lane Jazz Club and I’ve been involved in music all my life.
As teenager I was signed to Warner Brothers in one of the youngest bands, signed to Warners at the time, a band called Taste. We had a few hit singles, then after Taste I went to the Victorian College of the Arts and graduated there and of course I had by that stage developed a keen interest in Jazz and had, you know, this desire to want to open a Jazz club in Melbourne. Because when I was at college I realised, just how many, we had an incredible pool of talent living in Melbourne and I didn’t think there was a Jazz club that was doing it justice, so I tried to bring some justice to it, so I finally opened Bennetts Lane.
The people who came to Bennetts Lane have always been interested in music, I mean that was the basis that I opened the club on, that it wasn’t a venue like a pub with music, It was, and still is, the other way around. It’s the music that drives the venue.
it’s been a great incubator for musicians that are serious about, you know, and committed to the art form. Cause really Jazz is kind of a lifestyle, you don’t just go and play jazz because it’s cool, you know, you’re writing you’re always thinking, it’s always on your mind, you know, and there’s a certain amount of integrity and that draws people in I think and then it becomes like this circle of people being interested in what’s going on.
My name’s Mel Blachford and I’m the Collections Manager at the Victorian Jazz Archive which is a not-for-profit, volunteer run organisation dedicated to preserving Australian Jazz for the future, located in the foothills of the Dandenongs in south-eastern Melbourne.
I’ve been hooked on Jazz for a very long time. I spent most of my life as a pharmacist so before I actually retired from my paid job, I came out here once a fortnight on my rostered day off and I thought this is a great place and I’ve been here ever since.
Our mission statement is, is to proactively collect, archive and disseminate all matters to do with Australian Jazz. It’s part of our social history and if its not preserved then it’s lost for, so we want it for future generations.
One of the things that is really important about this archive, and it probably applies to a lot of other volunteer ones as well, is there’s two functions of it, you’re either there because you collecting and archiving but it has an important social function as well. We've got several people here who come who are either widowed or widowers and we’re the reason why they get out of bed.
They come here and we support them and we joke with them and we have laughs and all those things here. And I’m not too sure which one is the more important. I think they’re both equally important with each other.
There is a lot of interest in Jazz amongst younger performers. You only have to look at places like Bennetts Lane to see the caliber; the young people there, amazing sort of stuff. I’m not for discos, I’m talking about live music. To sit there in a live performance, watch the interaction between the musicians, they always manage to make it look so easy, but it's really quite hard, and the interaction with the crowd spurs them on and you just get wonderful things.
My name is Julia Messenger and I’m a singer here in Melbourne and I play a lot of Jazz gigs around town in places like Bennetts Lane.
When I was young I did ballet and song and dance, so that took me to the stage. And then as a young teenager, I didn’t listen to what my peers listened to, I actually listened to Ella Fitzgerald, it just was very comforting to me hear Ella’s voice and I used to just play my cassette over and over again of Ella.
During my university years of studying classical singing I supported myself through singing in pop and rock bands and Jazz bands and had my own Jazz Band at The Rainbow every Wednesday night as well. Paul Williamson was on Monday nights and I was on Wednesdays. [Laughs] So, we were very young and very gung ho with our Jazz.
What I love about Jazz is that it’s [finger click] connected and I can see the gift of music in the audience and with the people on stage and within myself. It’s immediate.
It’s a beautiful community full of people who are completely dedicated to the genre of Jazz. For me personally, Bennetts Lane has been a real gift, because it’s a safe place for me as an artist, to work on my own material, to test new material. The audience and the musicians are both there for the same thing, and that’s the love of music.