Arts

Andrew Hagger and Robyn Payne Launch Happy Hour Album at Jazz Lab

Andrew Hagger and Robyn Payne launched their new album Happy Hour at the fabulous jazz Club in Brunswick with exceptional jazz band Catsplay, and The World Loves Melbourne was there. Happy Hour will soon be released on iTunes and can be ordered online at hopeinthislife.com and Readings Carlton. At time of this article the album was No 1 on the Aria Jazz & Blues Albums Chart.

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Catsplay is the new jazz collaboration of Robyn Payne and Andrew Hagger, following Hagger's several successful albums in the classical and crossover genre.  Previous albums have stormed the Aria charts and have included musicians such as Tommy Emmanuel and Olivia Newton-John in collaboration. Andrew Hagger has a soulful and upbeat style and his music and songs effuse hope.

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Over three nights in Melbourne at the Jazz Club, Hagger and Payne launched Happy Hour, each session a joyous jazz celebration of their original material with influences from LA to New York, and from Tokyo to Stockholm. The concerts indeed encapsulated a happy hour with the jazz leading us into sheer happiness, and at times exhilaration. Memorable was the Peter Allen Groove - wistfully and cleverly taking us on a journey through Australian icons with Peter Allen verve and bonafide samba.

Jazz Train Comin' is an inspirational New York gospel style track that causes one to move and sway and shout! The song was penned by Hagger during a family trip to New York during the snowy Christmas season.

Hey Yeah Tonight is a song of optimism and excitement as the night unfolds with endless possibilities.

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Robyn Payne has an inspirational role on the album and is an award winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and audio engineer, who has produced over 100 albums.  Robyn's performance credits include Tom Jones, Tommy Emmanuel, Joe Cocker, Little River Band, Jackson Browne, and Roger Daltry.  How is that for a line up! Robyn is bass player for the Eurogliders, and for six years she performed in the Hey Hey Its Saturday Band (an Aussie icon).

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Andrew is a classically trained pianist whose solo albums Vivid and Moon Under Water have both reached ARIA Top 10 in their category.  An accomplished songwriter, his composition credits include co-writing Isn't it Amazing, performed by Olivia Newton-John.  He was Co-Executive Producer and Composer for the ABC Music album Hope, which rose to Number One on the ARIA Classical Charts. Andrew took up the challenge of venturing into jazz territory and the series of concerts at Jazz Club make one think it's a comfortable space that Hagger has always resided in. There would be no surprise if other jazz albums followed but we watch this space for the next development!

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Fronting Catsplay vocally is Fem Belling, a rising star on the international jazz scene who has become one of Australia's most formidable and in demand performers. With 5 Vita awards under her belt, a Green Room Award nomination for best actress in a musical, and lead roles in West End shows including Hairspray, Fame and Footloose, Fem has performed at many jazz festivals and clubs such as the iconic Ronnie Scott's in London. The World Loves Melbourne considers Fem to be a shining light on the Jazz scene, if not the Australian live music scene. With a magical voice and extraordinary versaltility, Fem puts her life and soul into every performance. She has a peerless stage presence that is somewhat upbeat, and a top notch sense of humour. Fem is a true performer in every sense!

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Other members of the Catsplay band read like a who's who of the Melbourne live music scene, including Mat Jodrell (trumpet), Greg Clarkson (saxophone), Jordan Murray (trombone), Michael Tortoni (double bass), Jack Pantazis (guitar) and Kieran Rafferty (drums). With a plethora of solos during the songs, each member of the band reached the high notes (so to speak) and the band itself was a cacophony of brilliance and jazz purity.

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Part proceeds of the Happy Hour project went to two charities: Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre, and Dalit Freedom Network.

We were treated to a  foot tapping, happy night!

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