St Kilda Jazz Stories – on film

Writer, editor, filmmaker and St Kilda jazz historian Kaye Blum has made a documentary on the jazz legacy of Melbourne’s seaside neighbourhood.


This jaunty essay-film snaps a century of Australian jazz history through the lens of Melbourne’s famous bayside destination, St Kilda, and its significant music venues. Featuring music from local jazz luminaries with archive footage, photographs and interviews revealing stories from the dance halls, coffee lounges, clubs, pubs and bars from the 1920s to today.

More than 24 hours of audio and video interviews were recorded with over 20 people. Sharing their entertaining insights are musicians Eugene Ball, Bob Barnard, Rebecca Barnard, Margie Lou Dyer, Peter Gaudion, Judy Jacques, Vince Jones, Nick Polites, John Scurry, Bob Sedergreen, Ted Vining, Paul Williamson, Julien Wilson and Barry Wratten. Other interviewees include sound engineer Bill Armstrong; Len Davis, Cameron Paine and Ian Stanistreet sharing insights to the first 20 years of 3PBS Community Radio; and founder of Jazz Centre 44, Horst Liepolt.

“Jazz Centre 44… They were the halcyon days of modern jazz music in Melbourne.” – Ted Vining.

“What I remember about Jazz Centre 44 was the dancing… It was the place to be. It was bohemian.” –Judy Jacques.

The film includes exclusive footage from Jazz Centre 44 shot on an old wind-up Bolex 16mm camera, filmed by Frank Heimans (Cinetel Productions) in 1962. “It only gives you a 25 second take after you wind it up by turning the handle,” he told filmmaker Kaye Blum. He made his 3-minute film on a budget of ten pounds and “cut it without being able to synchronise music and pictures and just hoped for the best.” It features the Yarra Yarra Jazz Band with Dennis Ball on clarinet, Maurice Garbutt on cornet, Don Hall on drums, Bob Brown on bass and Les Fithall on trombone.

A long-time fan of home movie cine cameras, Blum also included Super 8 footage she shot herself on her Braun Nizo Super 8 camera using some old Reversal film stock she’d kept in a tin box.

The soundtrack includes Warwick ‘Wocka’Dyer with Frank Johnson’s Fabulous Dixielanders, Judy Jacques and the Yarra Yarra New Orleans Jazz Band, Bob Barnard on trumpet with Len Barnard’s Jazz Band, Allan Lee on vibes with Len Barnard’s Modern Jazz Band, Allan Browne’s Red Onions, John Scurry’s Reverse Swing, and the Margie Lou Dyer Quintet.

St Kilda Jazz Stories is screened at the St Kild Jazz Festival on Saturday 29 June, followed by a Q&A session with filmmaker Kaye Blum and a special performance by the Margie Lou Dyear Quartet.