Adelaide’s secret world of jazz and blues

Guest blogger Scruntus Burgus is the pseudonym (at least we hope it’s a pseudonym) of one of Adelaide’s most loyal and passionate (and discerning) music lovers.  Often found in the front row, this is a man with a deep love, and encyclopaedic knowledge, of the international world of jazz and blues. Here he lets us into some secrets about what Adelaide had to offer.

Adelaide has a vibrant jazz and blues scene but a lot of it is hard to find. It takes place under the radar of even many people who live here.

For jazz – of the modern variety – a must see is the New Cabal every Wednesday night at La Boheme  in Grote St in the City. This group is a world class set of musicians – the piano player has a PhD in jazz! The sax player is a legend of the Adelaide music scene – Chris Soole – who in any other country would be feted. As they have had this Wednesday residency for many years they have an intimate knowledge of each other’s playing and work up a seamless swinging set from 9pm to 11pm every week at this funky and intimate French themed venue. Free admission too (that could only happen in Adelaide)! Check them out here and listen to them here.the new cabal

For soul jazz, Tuesday nights at the Gilbert St Hotel features a Hammond based group in the mold of Jimmy Smith and Groove Holmes, known as The Airbenders. Led by the pulchritudinous Mike Stewart on tenor, again, admission is free and the bar features a range of quality beers and wines from boutique labels across the globe. Occasionally, Australia’s best jazz guitar player James Muller sits in with the trio adding a whole new sonic dimension to the group. Here’s a sample.

The first and third Mondays of every month progressive jazz based sounds can be heard at the Wheatsheaf Hotel (known to the locals as ‘the Wheatie’) at 39 George St Thebarton. These are COMA nights – Creative Original Music Adelaide – and there are usually two acts with one in the jazz tradition. The other can be classical, folk, electronic – it’s a lottery. A modest entry fee is applicable. All information is available at on COMA’s website and facebook page. If the music doesn’t hold your interest the bar at the Wheatie will – the largest collection of boutique Australian and international beers in Adelaide and an exceptional collection of single malt whiskies also available.

If you prefer something more traditional in the jazz vein then check out the Southern Jazz Club at the Highway on Anzac Highway each Tuesday night between 8pm and 11pm; the Newmarket Hotel at 132 Commercial Road Port Adelaide every Sunday between 1 and 4pm. Tiffins on the Park (176 GreenHill Road Parkside) also has frequent traditional and mainstream jazz. The Jazz Adelaide website  is the place for an up to date listing of all that’s happening in Adelaide, along with the Jazz Scene gig guide.

For blues, a venue not to miss is the Semaphore Workers Club 93 Esplanade, Semaphore on the western shoreline of Adelaide looking over the Palais. If you blink you may miss it. Don’t be scared that it looks like a big private house – walk up the small steps onto the front lawn and into the front door for an experience that will transform you into a juke joint atmosphere from the deep south of America! Great Blues every Friday night from 8pm to midnight and on Sunday afternoons from 4.30pm until 8pm. Very cheap admission (all money to the muso s). Some of the biggest pool tables in Adelaide with great views over the ocean too!

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