Stevenson’s Rockets are one of the most exciting small groups currently performing on the Melbourne jazz scene. They consist of a quartet led by Jo Stevenson on clarinet and all the saxophones, including the seldom-heard bass saxophone. The pianist, Peter Locke, a guest with the group on Norfolk Island this year from Sydney is a wonderful musician who has played with ensembles all over the country. Ian Smith, the drummer, is an extremely versatile jazz musician who also plays many instruments including trumpet, bass, drums, washboard and reeds. He is also a fabulous vocalist. Chris Ludowyk is a driving, melodic bass player and a hot trombonist in his own right. The name of the group is derived from the steam engine built by George Stephenson in the 1700’s, and was chosen because it conveys the driving energy with which the group performs.
The Rockets play a very diverse repertoire of jazz tunes and songs with the highest level of musicianship and feeling and they thrill and endear listeners with a timeless appeal. The group loves the music of the 1920’s and 30’s, in particular the songs written by the great composers Gershwin, Berlin, Carmichael, Porter, Kern, Rogers and Hart but also the hot classic jazz tunes.
Stevenson’s Rockets have been playing every Sunday night for over 17 years now. Their current residency is at the Emerald Hotel in South Melbourne in an intimate, acoustic setting where one can hear this swinging quartet at its best.