The Rookies were born in the spring of 2014 on the forgotten end of Brunswick Street in a dimly lit room full of sweat and beer at The Rooks Return. What started as a quiet set of background jazz for punters while they imbibed their cocktails quickly devolved into an uninhibited, drunken dance party reminiscent of a time almost forgotten.
Band leader Greg Sher (alto saxophone) is joined by Tom Sly (trumpet), Joel Trigg (piano), Oscar Neyland (double bass) and Chris Cameron (drums and cymbals), with special guests from Australia and overseas sitting in every week.
Their weekly parties are never the same as the band effortlessly jumps genres, twisting and contorting old world repertoire into something idiosyncratically their own. Every Wednesday those in the know cram into the bar to experience the raw energy of improvisation, where anything is possible. It is a space that people come to dance, sing, drink, and join their community in a celebration of life. The parties blend a nostalgic sense of the old world with the freedom and spontaneity of the new––not quite jazz club, not quite night club. The energy is carried by the band’s long standing musical brotherhood, interspersed with Greg’s satirical and quirky commentary. After the dust settles and the bar empties, an old broken down piano in the corner is the only vestige of the chaos that once was.
Emerging from their spiritual home, The Rookies have hosted the Melbourne International Jazz Festival jam session, held a two-year residency at midnight on Saturdays at the Jazz Lab, performed at festivals, and toured around Australia. They released their critically acclaimed debut LP ‘The Rookies Play Jazz’ in 2018 which sold out in months across Australia, Japan and Europe. The same year, they were invited to host a Friday night takeover at Strawberry Fields Festival, and booked a line-up of bands forging new paths in jazz and improvised music.