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The Club Booker: Albert Dadon of Bird's Basement

The Club Booker: Albert Dadon of Bird's Basement

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Presentation goes a long way, as does preparation and organisation.
—Albert Dadon
For this column I was given the great opportunity to interview Albert Dadon who's an accomplished man both inside and outside of the music world. Albert is not just a club owner/booker, he's a musician and can understand both sides of the booking relationship that can sometimes be at odds with each other. With very high standards he's opened Bird's Basement in Melbourne (Australia), a beautiful club and a bastion for high quality music. I was curious to speak with him about what a club is looking for when vetting musicians and to get the club's perspective on promotion and performance. Also, unfamiliar with the Australian jazz scene, I wanted to get his view about what's happening in a fairly isolated (jazz) location.

About Albert Dadon

Albert Dadon is an Australian businessman, philanthropist and musician. He was born in Morocco and grew up in Israel and France before immigrating to Melbourne, Australia in 1983. He is prominent in promoting cultural and business links between Australia and Israel. He undertakes a range of activities covering international affairs, political activism and cultural activities within Australia and overseas exchange programs

From 2003 to 2005 Dadon was chairman of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. In 2005 he brought the Umbria Jazz Festival to Melbourne, which was named "Umbria Jazz Melbourne 05." The appointment of Dadon as artistic director resulted in a change of name of the festival to Melbourne Jazz, and the 2007 edition of the festival enjoyed the presence of more than 200 artists from the world around, performing in ten venues in 112 concerts during its ten days. In 2008 Dadon received an Order of Australia (AM) for service to the arts, particularly through the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, through philanthropic support for cultural and charitable organizations, and to business. In March 2015, Albert Dadon realized one of his long-term dreams with the opening of Bird's Basement , a Jazz Club in Melbourne, in association with Birdland in New York.

All About Jazz: Being a musician first, how did you come to book Bird's Basement?

Albert Dadon: I've played the guitar since I was eight years old and have been performing for four decades. As you can imagine for most musician's, music naturally and seamlessly embeds itself into your daily routine. I was, for a time, the Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. While I enjoy playing music, I greatly enjoy listening to music and absorbing as much live music as I can.

I opened Bird's Basement out of passion. I wanted to share my love for music and treat Melbourne to intimate live performances with state-of-the-art sound system, premier Jazz, R&B and funk artists in the local and international scene. Bird's Basement has successfully established itself as a cultural bastion in Melbourne and has made it easy for all music fans to come and enjoy world-class shows, regularly.

AAJ: Is it difficult to turn other musicians down who want to play at the club?

AD: Of course, it's always difficult. But there is always the time tour.  

AAJ: When does a persistent musician trying to get a gig become a pest?

AAJ: It doesn't worry me the least. Professionals have to market their art. That's part and parcel of being in show biz.  

AAJ: Do you look at an artist's social media presence before you book them and what do you look for?

AD: We look at the marketability and the reach of each artist. We also look at their performance at other venues... By experience, pro-active artists in social media definitely attract more patrons. I count all music platforms as social media as well.  

AAJ: What tips could you give an artist to improve their press kit?

AD: Keep it simple and up to date! The bio copy should be a highlight reel of your greatest achievements, rather than a life story. If people want to know more, they will do their own personal research. Photography should also be recent, and quotes should be relevant. The kit should contain links to social media and to available music. Videos are also essential.

AAJ: What kinds of things should musicians do to promote their gig?

AD: We have a fantastic PR and advertising team who will arrange promotional material, press interviews and editorial leading up to Bird's Basement performances. We expect artists playing at Bird's are open to interviews both during their time in Melbourne and pre-arrival.  

We also expect artists to build their own presence in Melbourne and Australia. In terms of self-promotion, social media is such an easy way to engage with fans and spread the word about your shows. We recommend researching and distributing your music for airplay on local radio, album reviews, etc., so the Melbourne scene is familiar with your sound prior to show announcements.

AAJ: What should musicians know, from the venue's perspective, that they often get wrong?

AD: Presentation goes a long way, as does preparation and organisation.  Having quick links to your music and a current social media accounts for us to look at has a huge impact. From a musical experience perspective, they need to adjust their sound according to the venue... I can't tell you the number of times I saw great musicians turning out and setting up as if they were about to play in a stadium. When you play a club, make sure the music, reflects the true nature of your albums, but remember intensity must not be confused with loudness! There are horses for courses.  

AAJ: Your club books bands beyond traditional jazz, is that the mission of the club or a necessity to keeping the doors open? 

AD: We are a venue that welcomes great musicians. I don't care what is the type of music you play. If it's great music, it has a place at Bird's.

AAJ: Being in Australia is it hard to get artists from abroad to come and play there?

AD: What's hard is the current exchange rate with the US. If you could tell your president to cool down the US dollar that would go a long way to bring more musicians from the US.  

AAJ: Is there a sound unique to the Australian jazz world and what do you want the rest of the world to know about the music there?

AD: Australian jazz sound is quite eclectic. There are great talents here and you know most of them I am sure... Whilst we still love NYC for the diversity of the scene, I am proud to say that we no longer have to go to NYC to find a great rhythm section.

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