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 Cohen and violinist Phil Smurthwaite. As with the often humble beginnings of many bands, cafes and restaurants 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 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 1st 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.
Lee left for Perth, W.A. early 2002 to pursue jazz studies though returned every six months for some showcase gigs. She is now establishing herself as quite an impressive independent singer/songwriter (www.tessalee.info for more). Her replacement is the experienced and affable Nadine Joy.
Guest musicians featured through the years have been David Lord (clarinet), Michael Barnes (clarinet), Zac Barter (bass), Rob Turner (violin), Tamil Rogeon (violin), Josie Scott (vocals), Sean Loughran (stand-up kit).
Club Swing released their second full-length album Sacré
in Dec 2004. It features many original compositions as well as some hand
picked jazz standards.
Other groups featuring members of HCS are: Chameleon (Ben Calderazzo); Bamboozle (Ben Calderazzo & Rob Gador); The Rhythm Method (Ben Calderazzo); Los Romanticos (Phil Smurthwaite); Billy Tea Bush Band (Phil Smurthwaite); Yohosie (Matt Kenneally); Canary (Matt Kenneally). Check out the Moonlighting page for more info and mp3 samples from these groups.