Club Swing performs an exciting and highly infectious style of music that
could be best described as French Gypsy Jazz. The music draws from an
exotic palate of classical, jazz and Gypsy influences, painting on a canvas
that can be eloquently French, starkly rustic or darkly and romantically
Gypsy. The group is mainly inspired by the virtuosic Django Reinhardt
and Stephane Grappelli, who originated this acoustic music in 1930’s
The current quintet features: Ben Calderazzo (leader/guitar); Phil Smurthwaite (violin); Jeremy Bourke (rhythm guitar), Rob Gador (double bass); and Nadine Joy (vocals).
"Hot Club Swing capture a warm, swinging all-string sound taking audience hearts and imaginations captive....the band's intuitive and empathic interplay is a feature of their live set." The Age.
Originally formed in the summer of 1997 in the Australian regional town of Geelong, with guitarists Ben Calderazzo & Ben Keon-Cohen sharing lead & rhythm guitar duties. These two classmates from the local TAFE jazz course met violinist Phil Smurthwaite at a school jam session and met up regularly for more informal jams and rehearsals. As with the often humble beginnings of many bands, cafes, restaurants and festival spots were the order of the day: the chance for the group to hone their skills and develop repertoire.
A meeting with double-bassist Rob Gador in mid-98 provided the opportunity to add the much-needed fourth member to round out their developing sound. An overseas trip taken by Keon-Cohen in early '99 left a gap which was filled by local jazz stalwart Steve James, opting to play rhythm guitar exclusively. The quartet now began to gig heavily in and around Geelong, including Port Fairy Music Festival, the 2nd Queenscliff Music Festival and countless other events.
A chance meeting with chanteuse Tessa Lee in 2001 brought her French/English vocals to the band and eventually, the studio. Musique du Jour was recorded Jun-Dec 2001 at Beechfront Media, engineered by Richard Beechey, and released Mar 2002. The band embarked on a mini-tour of Geelong and the coast, culminating in a final show featuring dancers, specials guests and more.
Soon after this, Lee left for Perth, W.A. to pursue jazz studies at WAPA though returned home every six months for some showcase gigs and later, to lay vocals down for the second HCS album (see below). She is now an established, independent singer/songwriter based in Tasmania. Her replacement was long-term friend of the band, Nadine Joy.
Club Swing released their second full-length album Sacré
in Dec 2004. It featured mostly original compositions as well as some hand
picked jazz standards and even concluded with an intimate duet with Tessa singing La Vie En Rose and Steve on a vintage Gibson electric jazz guitar.
2017 was another milestone: the 20th anniversary of the band! To commemorate, some intimate shows with limited tickets were held, including special guests and friends on stage to have some fun and celebrate.