Jazz takes up residence in Hurstbridge
by SARAH HAMMOND
20th December 2021
IT WAS ALMOST like the “old days” at the launch of the Hurstbridge Jazz Club on Friday, December 10.
For a few hours, patrons could forget about lockdowns and all the restrictions endured due to the pesky pandemic and enjoy some world- class jazz.
Of course, there was still the COVID check-in process to do (effortlessly managed by the organisers), but the buzz of excitement from both the audience and performers was palpable.
Joy would be how I would describe the feeling in the room — joy and awe that such top-notch music was being delivered so close to home. Following an incredibly tough two years for the creative industry, it was an exciting night for musicians and music lovers alike.
With the continued uncertainty around the globe as we emerge from COVID, musicians’ opportunity to perform in their own community is more important than ever.
The club was launched by the Kimba Griffith Quintet, who are musicians at the top of their game.
Equally impressive were the young musicians who performed as special guests.
Jazz, I am told, is often a divisive genre — you either love it or hate it.
The audience was a mixed bag; yes, there were some seasoned jazz lovers in the room, but there were just as many people experiencing this type of music for the first time, and I would say that “love it” was the vibe for the night.
The music was divine, energetic, and foot tappingly addictive.
The musicians were masters of their craft, visibly delighted to be performing again and even more so in their own community.
And then there was the venue — the Anglers Club in Cherry Tree Road, Hurstbridge, is a tiny building you could be forgiven for never noticing.
Yet, it has been there for over 50 years.
Once a Guides’ hall, it is now a converted black box theatre managed by Eltham Arts Council, also the setting for the regular Comedy at The Anglers sessions.
This unique venue is intimate and interesting. Patrons are seated at cafe tables or on comfy couches with coffee tables.
There are candles, the odd red velvet curtain, a house piano, and a small, excellently lit stage.
Bring Your Own is the go, although a generous platter was also provided for those who forgot to bring any nibbles.
The venture was a huge success, led by local musician Ryan Griffith and supported by a Nillumbik Community Fund arts and culture grant.
Ryan said the idea for the club came about due to the impact the pandemic had on live music performance.
“Everything, all gigs, stopped or were cancelled. “I have many professional jazz musician friends who live in the area who were naturally in the same boat, so I thought wouldn’t it be great to bring some live jazz to our local area and foster a scene here for local players of all ages.
“We have some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians living in Nillumbik.
“Traditionally they wouldn’t play much around town because they are always touring or playing city clubs.
“Hopefully this jazz club will provide a dedicated place for jazz in Nillumbik,” he said.
Ryan went on to speak about the club’s mission to foster younger jazz artists and will feature an up-and-coming jazz musician at each event. “They are incredibly talented and I know that our audience on December 10 loved our young artists as much as they did the feature band,” he said.
Three hours whizzed by.
The interaction between the band and the audience was a bonus, being refreshingly humorous and engaging.
The stories behind the songs and personal reflections were all part of the performance.
You get the sense that this is just the start of something special.
And at just $20 a ticket, it is not only a very affordable night out but one that doesn’t require a trek into the city.
The Anglers Club is destined to become a hidden gem in Nillumbik’s cultural repertoire.
Due to the size of the venue, tickets are limited, so book soon for the next event in January 2022.
January edition of Hurstbridge Jazz Club featuring the Gideon Brazil Quintet and The Forbidden Groove.
7–10pm, Friday, January 21, 2022.
Anglers Club, 31 Cherry Tree Rd, Hurstbridge, Tickets: www.trybooking.com/events/ landing?eid=848960&