Now retired, 93-year-old Melbourne-born Jazz legend Nick Polites OAM gave a rare public performance on the morning of Christmas Eve outside the Degani Café in Ivanhoe Mall. He was accompanied by banjoist Tony Orr, who plays in Nick’s old band – the Louisiana Shakers.

The event came about when Degani proprietor Peter Katsaitis heard Nick performing outdoors some years ago.  He was out walking and followed the sound of the music until he found Nick. They formed a bond once they realised that Peter was from the same small Greek Island as Nick’s father – Lefkada – in the Adriatic sea.

Peter had completed a renovation of the Degani Café at the beginning of 2020 and Nick had offered to come out of retirement to perform at the re-opening – but the pandemic lockdowns kicked-in and so the event could not proceed as planned. Hence the recent Christmas Eve performance.

In more good news for jazz lovers, the Victorian Jazz Club will hold ‘Pop-Up Jazz’ sessions in the Memorial Hall at the Oakleigh RSL, 95 – 97 Drummond Street, on Monday 28th December and Tuesday 29th December from 2 pm to 8 pm. With free admission, all are welcome to come and enjoy the best of jazz from some of Victoria’s very best musicians.

Nick’s old band (now with Tony Orr on banjo) -The Louisiana Shakers – will resume regular Sunday afternoon performances at the Clyde Hotel in Elgin Street Carlton later next month.

Peter Katsaitis, Nick Polites and Tony Orr outside Degani Café in Ivanhoe on Christmas Eve (photo credit: Jill Morgan AM)