Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
Bars and Pubs - Melbourne, VIC
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club is a live jazz music venue, located off Little Lonsdale street, in th Melbourne CBD. The club hosts local and international musicians every night.
Located in the quintessential setting of a dead-end Melbourne laneway, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club was opened by Michael Tortoni in November 1992. Formerly of the rock n’ roll era with top charting albums, a string of wild gigs and Countdown appearances, Michael Tortoni (Gemini) starred as the bass playing, platform sporting, lapel and lycra-cladded spunk from the great Aussi rock band Taste. Performing with him were the now world famous Virgil Donati (drums), Ken Murdoch (songwriter, guitar and lead vocals), and Joey Amenta (guitar and lead vocals). The youngest band signed to Warner at the time germinated the musical seed that was to direct his life thereafter. His life in music saw him study classical double bass at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), perform live jazz improvisation in various trios and quartets, and never get distracted by the multitudes of fans from his rock and roll performances. His dedication to the presentation of live music performance has lead him to direct and support Bennetts Lane Jazz Club since its inception. He is also currently the Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and has been on its board since 2001.
The original room is housed in a building built for King O’Malley, a man significant to early Australian politics and the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Michael purchased the building when it was passed in at auction, saving it from becoming a “massage parlour”. His intention was to provide local musicians with a central purpose-built room in which to develop their craft and find their audiences, a desire fuelled by the state of live venues and the treatment of musicians at the time. His dream venue surpassed expectations when he was forced to open more nights due to countless musicians wanting to perform and the number of patrons interested in hearing them.