Thursday, 17 February 2011
The Girls Go Crazy/Whispering/See See Rider/Cake Walking Babies
The Red Onion Jazz Band, formed by high school friends around 1960 as the Gin Bottle Jazz Band and concluded at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues in 1996, was a Melbourne traditional jazz band, which is to say that it featured the instrumentation of the early small groups—clarinet, trumpet and trombone in the front line, and a rhythm section which included a banjo or guitar, tuba or string bass, possibly a piano, and drums—and built its repertoire initially on the classic recordings of Louis Armstrong, Clarence Williams, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke and Johnny Dodds. Its career, which was unusually long for a band of its type, saw it move from a kind of cult status in the casual dances of the early 1960s, through periods in which the popularity of traditional jazz (or jazz of any kind) waned considerably, to a position of seniority and enormous respect at the time of its dissolution. The band released eight LP and four EP recordings during the 1960s and early 1970s, and during the 1990s recorded two CDs, one of which was released only after the band had ceased performing. The Onions created their persona as a band early and were a distinctive presence for as long as they existed as a group.
The first period of the Onions’ career lasted until clarinetist Gerry Humphrys, who had been in the band for three years, tubist Lynch, and pianist Ian Clyne, a more recent addition, broke away to form the pop group the Loved Ones. This followed the dramatic change in musical taste among teenagers which occurred around the time of the Beatles’ Australian tour in 1964.