Hot Club Swing will be in Ballarat town this weekend performing with Alanna Egan for a sultry night of Jazz in the basement. Hot Club Swing performs in the exciting and highly infectious style of music – French Gypsy Jazz. The music draws from an exotic palette of classical, Jazz and Gypsy influences, painting on a canvas that is eloquently French, starkly rustic or darkly and romantically Gypsy. The group is inspired by the virtuosic Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, who originated this acoustic music in 1930’s Paris. We asked guitarist Ben Calderazzo a few questions in the lead up to their performance, The Finest in French Gypsy Jazz, Saturday November 3 at 7.30pm at Sebastiaans – Printers Room, in Lydiard Street Ballarat.

JAZZ series Q. What does jazz mean to you?

Ben Calderazzo A. Jazz is everything I thought it was and so much more. It encompasses so many styles, techniques, eras and influences, it’s hard to think of it simply by that one word. On a more personal level, jazz has allowed me to develop in ways that I never would have, had I not followed this path; musical elements that I know I will be exploring and developing the rest of my life. It truly is a lifelong career.

JAZZ series Q. What jazz music/musician inspires you?

Ben Calderazzo A. The ones that I keep going back to are Django, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, Cannonball Adderley, Joe Henderson, Oscar Peterson, Monk, Clifford Brown, Chick Corea but I really love all the great players and thankfully we have radio stations like 3PBS that always introduce me to some great artists and who find something in the archives to remind me of someone I have listened to for ages.

JAZZ series Q. Whats your favourite thing about spring?

Ben Calderazzo A. The smell of the blooming flowers and the new hope in the air.

JAZZ series Q. Whats your favourite thing about Ballarat?
Ben Calderazzo A. That it’s largely remained an historic town; it always feels grand when I arrive – wide streets, large stone buildings, lots of space; it has a great vibe. I especially love the fact that locals support the arts – every time we’ve played has been a great turnout with people dressing up and chatting to us; we always feel welcomed and cherished.

JAZZ series Q. Whats the best thing about live jazz performances?

Ben Calderazzo A. The energy of being in the room with live musicians knowing that this show is unique ie next week might be quite different even though it’s the same musicians and similar repertoire – jazz is all about feeling the moment, feeling the room, the energy on the night and that all affects what we play.

JAZZ series Q. What live music performance made a lasting impression on you and why? Probably my first time at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival in my early 20s.

Ben Calderazzo A. It really opened my eyes up to what was possible in the jazz realm. It took me out of the rock/pop world I’d been in (and grown tired of) and showed me the future!

JAZZ series Q. How long have you been performing with the Phil, Rob, Jeremy & Alanna?

Ben Calderazzo A. Hot Club Swing celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. That’s longer than most marriages!

JAZZ series Q. Tell us more about what’s in store for the JAZZ series performance at the Printers Room on the 3rd November.

Ben Calderazzo A. We’re really excited to have Alanna Egan and her smokey, old world vocals with us. I think she sounds like a cross between Billie Holiday and Madeleine Peyroux with her own sound infused, it’s such a captivating sound. The venue is in a basement and we all know that jazz sounds better in a basement, haha. We’ll also do a few instrumentals in honour of the original Django/Stephane sound and to flex our gypsy swing muscles. I just found out that the audience can order meals and there is a full bar service – it doesn’t get much better than that – dinner, drinks and live gypsy jazz!