Jaz Stutley -     Biography
'Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.' (Oscar Wilde) 

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My mother has written on the back: 'Jan in her concert rigout Jan.1948.' So I was three! This was for a performance of "Teddy-Bear's Picnic" at the dance school I attended in Heidelberg. 

Revues, Gilbert & Sullivan choir concerts – anything I could wrap my tonsils around; including singing in a concert for the BBC Club Operatic society when working in London. I have vinyl immortalising my Yum-Yum in 'Three Little Girls from School', (The Mikado) when the original singer came down with last minute stage fright. The Strauss operetta Wiener Blut was also staged at a theatre in Richmond upon Thames by this group. I was one of six featured dancers/singers.

A first showing of the frilly knickers. The can can dress was bright pink with black ruffles – the “big” girls (who were probably about 12) wore black dresses with pink ruffles.
We performed in the Masonic Hall in Lower Heidelberg Road, which has been sold, but the façade, which has heritage status, is being preserved. 

Though it was passed down in family legend that I was singing the Kerry Dance to my doting parents at age four, it was only when looking back through my early photos that I remembered other more public performances. The heady excitement of the Teddy-Bear’s Picnic, the Can-Can, and singing a song with a girl called Kay dressed as a Dutch boy about patching his/her trousers. I continued performing on a trajectory that could only go upwards, in school and church choirs, and amateur musical productions (the Dunvegan Players)

Sept 1950 - I was five. I am the plump Dutch girl – very handy to have a plumber for a father – it was my first introduction to hemp! (the plaits.)  

I had studied singing briefly before sailing off to London in 1969, but when the teacher told me if I wanted to be an opera singer I had to concentrate on opera and couldn’t also sing jazz (which I had discovered in the early 60’s jazz boom here) I politely declined.

During this boom I had begun singing and playing kazoo with bands my brother organised, and at jazz conventions, so after returning from the UK I became involved with the Victorian Jazz Club, joining the social committee. Not content with helping to run social occasions, I began to organise shows for members of the jazz club to appear in.

From that grew the “jazz cabaret” group the Red Hot Mommas in the 70’s, which continued in one form or another off and on till the late 90’s. What’s not to like about top-hats, tailcoats, fishnet stockings and short skirts? 

In 1999 as a throwback to previous productions I wrote, staged and performed in, a jazz-based comic musical: Egyptian Follies, or The Pharaoh’s Curse, for the Victorian Jazz Club.

In 2005 the activist cabaret group Reds Under the Bed was formed when we met at the CAE in a modern cabaret class, five women singing original satirical songs for various union, community and private fundraisers and forums.

In 2007 at a jazz convention in Goulburn I had met other female musicians calling themselves the Frilly Knickers Jazz Band. (This began as an all-female jazz band many years before and the name was carried on.) I joined the band as vocalist and kazoo player, and we began performing at Australian Jazz Conventions, Festivals and jazz clubs. The band's many and varied influences include Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, Turk Murphy and Jelly Roll Morton; also classic Australian jazz musicians such as Frank Johnston, Ade Monsborough and Tom Baker. One only has to look at the can-can photo to see my path was foreordained …