The Melbourne Jazz Cooperative

The Melbourne Jazz Cooperative has introduced quite a few later top stars at its Bennetts Lane venue.

Let’s highlight a few of the artists that, through the years, have contributes to MJC’s success:

Matt Kirsch

Guitarist/composer (and vocalist) Matt Kirsch has long been highly regarded by his musical peers, but his distinctive instrumental capabilities were finally displayed to a wider audience on his strong selling debut CD Translucent (on NewMarket). Since leaving Melbourne several years ago, he finally settled with his family in Port Douglas, Far North Queensland).

On this visit, he reunited with longtime bandmates Ben Robertson (acoustic bass) and Darryn Farrugia (drums), who has recently relocated here after several years in London. They showcased Kirsch’s new album “Nightmusic”, which is a dynamic return to jazz guitar for Kirsch, and an album that he believes is his best-recorded work to date. Listeners were in for a special night of guitar jazz when Kirsch played the songs live with this great trio.


In his musical persona as guitarist Albare, Albert Dadon returned to the live music scene for a three week season to launch his new CD, “After the Rain” (Holy cow Records). A great patron of the Australian jazz scene (through the Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards and securing Major Events support for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival), Albare’s music credits include establishing Acid Jazz in Australia and being the first to record the striking artistry of piano maestro Joe Chindamo.

He was joined by Rob Burke (tenor & soprano sax, flute), Scott Griffith (Fender Rhodes keyboard), Evripedis Evripedou (bass), and Tony Floyd (drums). They also performed material from the “Midnight Blues” album. Special guest artist Joe Chindamo (on piano accordion) played a set of selections with Albare from their forthcoming duo album. Check out also this post: A Blues Chronicle: From Robert Johnson To Robert Cray


After a 4 year hiatus, drummer Craig Simon returned to the jazz scene to premiere his latest project featuring the outstanding talents of James Sherlock (guitar) and Kim Kelaart (Hammond B3). Originally from Sydney, Simon’s considerable credits on that scene ranged from long stints with James Morrison to the Willow Neilson Quartet.

Having chalked up a few warm-up gigs around town in recent months this marks Simon’s full-blown return to the music scene. Drawing on the spirit of Tony Williams’ Emergency band, they featured Australian compositions by James Muller and Sean Wayland. This was real fireworks! See also: Jonathan Kreisberg at The LA Blue Whale

Bob Bertles Quintet featuring Paul Williamson

Sydney’s Bob Bertles (alto & baritone saxophones) is one of the significant ‘bridging’ veterans of Australian music, with rock credits including Johnny O’Keefe and a long stint with Max Merritt & The Meteors, as well as formidable jazz credits.  He is probably best-known as a founding member of Ten Part Invention, and as leader of his own classic hard-bop quintet with trumpeter Warwick Alder (with two albums on Rufus).

Arguably the country’s leading baritone saxophonist, for this project he again teamed with Melbourne’s Paul Williamson (tenor & baritone saxophones) for a two ‘bari’ frontline, backed by Jex Saarelaht (piano), Geoff Kluke (acoustic bass) and Michael Jordan (drums), with whom he recorded for ABC’s “JazzTrack”.


Jeremy Woolhouse, Lucas Michailidis, and Ben Robertson joined to present a program of imaginative original compositions. Reflecting influences of ECM, South American, and world music, the trio created a calm, sophisticated atmosphere.  As a pianist and composer, Jeremy Woolhouse has been acclaimed for lyrical melodies and elegant use of harmony.  Lucas Michailidis’ understated electric and acoustic guitar work lends an air of distinction while Ben Robertson’s acoustic bass provides a solid backbone.

The focus of the trio is on maintaining the primacy of melody while exploring interplay, texture, and evocative moods. Intricate lines were woven into a contrapuntal net which is cast over the audience.  One couldn’t help but be drawn in by such a performance…Soaring melodies which lingered in my head for weeks! Calm and relaxed, yet at the same time alive with nuance.

Darrin Archer Trio

Darrin Archer has gained a reputation as a formidable pianist and composer in Melbourne and Sydney. Originally from Melbourne, he studied with Mike Nock and Judy Bailey at the Sydney Conservatorium. Archer released his debut album, Secret World (NewMarket). He studied at the Banff Centre in Canada, and in New York with Marc Copland. More recently he has been working on compositions for his trio which has recently returned from a Sydney tour, with an album soon to be released.With Sam Anning (bass) and Rajiv Jayaweera (drums). See also: Keb Mo – A Legend in the Making