Local jazz legends kick off summer series

Hot Club Swing: Nadine Joy, Phil Smurthwaite, Ben Calderazzo, Rob Gador and Jeremy Bourke. (Ivan Kemp) 385176_02

Matt Hewson

Like any kind of relationship – those between friends, lovers, work colleagues – bands can come and go.

But sometimes with a bit of work and dedication relationships, and bands, endure.

Hot Club Swing is one of those bands. Proponents of French Gypsy jazz – that swinging, infectious and sometimes moody style that brings to mind the streets of Paris – the Geelong outfit has built a dedicated following of music lovers over a period of more than 25 years.

And while the band has seen some members come and go, original member, guitarist and band leader Ben Calderazzo said the group felt like a family in many ways, at times seeing more of each other than their actual families.

“We have a really healthy mutual respect for each other, a great love of this style of music; I know I can rely on the band to be there and support each other on and off the stage,” he said.

“We’ve developed as musicians, our interplay with one another, over that time, just the same way you do in a personal relationship, where you have jokes and conversations and so on; the same occurs musically.

“And we’re always looking to do new things, bring in new songs and new elements, create new arrangements and find new audiences.”

Hot Club Swing will usher in the 2024 edition of the Jazz Soirees Summer Series, held since 2021 at the Geelong Botanic Gardens, on Saturday, February 3.

The series will continue on Saturdays in February, with performances by Australian jazz legends the Syncopators on February 10 and crowd favourites the Suspects on February 17.

Calderazzo said the gardens were the perfect venue for his band’s style of music.

“We love playing open air events, we love playing to a local crowd,” he said.

“The music itself is very organic and natural sounding, it’s an all-string, all-acoustic group.

“I think that this style of music appeals across the board, all ages, all backgrounds. You don’t really ever meet anyone who says, I don’t like that style of music.”

Visit geelongjazz.com for tickets and more information.