Eugene Ball and two different magnetisms

Eugene Ball

‘It’s going to be great fun.’

Eugene BallEugene Ball is talking about the Denis Ball-Eugene Ball Sextet at Stonnington Jazz this weekend. Trumpeter Eugene Ball and his father clarinettist Denis Ball will be joined by Allan Browne on drums, Howard Cairns playing the bass, John Scurry on guitar and Steve Grant playing piano.

‘I think that’s kind of the significant point for me. I’m playing with my two major influences in the same band; my mentor Al Browne and my Dad.

‘They are two kinds of magnetisms – two different mentors. One of them paternal and one a pure mentor, if you like.’

In the nineteen sixties and seventies, Denis Ball played with well-well known Melbourne group The Yarra Yarra Jazz Band. At the same time Allan Browne was playing with the Red Onion Jazz Band.

‘The Yarra Yarra Jazz Band were famous for playing authentic early jazz,’ says Eugene. ‘They asked Dad to play like George Lewis. He wasn’t happy about that. He loved Benny Goodman.’

While Denis Ball was playing in the Yarra Yarra jazz band, Allan Browne was with the Red Onion Jazz Band.

‘Dad’s played with Al before, in the sixties and early seventies,’ says Eugene. ‘The Red Onion Jazz Band and the Yarra Yarra jazz band were kind of competing entities, in a way. But they all knew each other and they all respected each other.

This band brings some of my deepest relationships together, in way that hasn’t happened before. I love that there’s a rhythm section that Dad will enjoy playing with; one I also have a deep relationship with. And then we’ve added Steve Grant into the mix. He is playing piano with this band. And doing it extraordinarily as always.’

Eugene says the that the sextet will play ‘kind of swing street – what some people would call mainstream…’

He has played with this rhythm section (Al Browne, Howard Cairns, John Scurry) for years, starting when he was 18 and playing at Allan Browne’s regular gig at the Prince of Wales hotel in St Kilda.

My dad loves to play songs. And I feel that’s something that I have taken on as well. I do love playing songs and it comes directly from him. If there’s a drummer I can think of that demonstrates these same proclivities for songs from the great American song book then it’s Al Browne.

Catch the Denis Ball-Eugene Ball Sextet at Stonnington Jazz on Sunday 18 May at Chapel Off Chapel