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Australian Musician has long known that Melbourne jazz club Birds Basement is a perfect place to see world class artists up close and personal (the food’s pretty darn tasty too!). The club’s next line up of performers further enforces that theory.

From November 22-27, acclaimed American blues guitarist Coco Montoya will be performing with his band. Montoya is a self-taught guitar slinger who plays with an emotional intensity few string benders possess. Playing left-handed and upside down like Albert King, Montoya learned his guitar techniques from his years with Albert Collins. “I never had a lesson in my life,” Coco says. “I would watch other guitar players to catch what they did. I would wait for that one moment when they would do it, and just stare at them and try and remember where their hand was, where their fingers were.”

From 1976 until 1984, Montoya had lost some of the feel for music and worked bartender jobs to survive. In 1984, his second mentor, John Mayall, was celebrating his birthday in a bar where Montoya was performing. Montoya’s from the hip version of “All Your Love” caught Mayall’s ear and Coco was asked to pack his Strat and follow previous Bluesbreaker guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor in the Bluesbreakers. “I would never be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t gotten the phone call from John Mayall.” After three records with Mayall as a member of the Bluesbreakers, Coco decided in 1993 it was time to take the lessons from his two musical fathers and begin to sculpt a solo career. See Coco burn up the Birds’ stage, when he’s in town for ten huge shows.

The following week, local legend Vince Jones appears (November 29 – December4). Vince Jones has set the benchmark for Australian Jazz singers since his emergence in the jazz clubs of Melbourne in the late 70s and early 80s. His 20 album, international career has never hesitated in its musical evolution – a career played in the moment.

Vince is a wonderful trumpet player. His style has developed a distinctive reserve and subtlety. He plays a little less and draws a good deal more from it than he did in early days. A brief solo from Vince is worth a hundred notes played with less discretion. Particular about the musical company he keeps, he continues to enjoy playing with the best jazz musicians the country has to offer and his shows reflect the respect all involved have for the art form that is Jazz. And now, there is no better showcase in Melbourne for Vince than this season of shows at Bird’s Basement. Both reflect the best that Jazz has to offer – a master of the art and the intimacy of the perfect club environment.

Coco Montoya and Vince Jone shows:
2 shows per night. Dinner show open from 6pm – Supper open at 10pm

You can also catch these fine artists at Birds:
November 11 Ross Wilson
November 12 Vika & Linda Bull
November 13 Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier & band
November 15-20 James Carter Organ Trio

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