Grand WaZoo - Kings of Soul

Grand WaZoo - Kings of Soul

 Melbourne, Victoria, AUS

GRAND WAZOO are Australia's undisputed 13 piece Kings of Soul, with an unmatched record for presenting the most authentic and entertaining Black Soul Music experience since 1981- performing favourite tunes, rare gems and band originals in the same 'brassy blaster' style. Also a top sight-reading outfit, including ten A-List musicians, the band can back any artist in any genre.


GRAND WAZOO are Australia's legendary 13 piece Soul kings, with an unsurpassed record for presenting the most authentic and entertaining classic Black Soul Music experience since 1981- performing favourite songs, rare gems and band tunes in the same 'brassy blaster' style.

The Founder-Band Leader:
JOHN MONTESANTE began his professional career as a jazz musician, who diversified into other genres to engender regular work. Exploring Black Soul Music, he loved the high energy and emotion of the music, and felt Australian music-lovers would share his passion. Prior to forming GRAND WAZOO in 1981, he had worked as a professional musician and arranger for 13 years, appearing with many stellar bands like  JR Madison, Barry Veith Big Band, Kush, Dutch Tilders Blues Train, Tinsley Waterhouse Band, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, as well as in stage bands and TV orchestras.

The Band:
became revered for Montesante's Soul arrangements, the permanent 6 piece Horn Section and the band's vibrant energy - with the outfit becoming a rite of passage for many of the finest artists in Australia. John was quickly regarded as an Ambassador of Soul, as he pioneered the artform in the southern hemisphere - and most groups that followed in the Soul genre, took their inspiration from this mighty band. However none sustained the uncompromising dedication to authentic Black Soul Music, which is what sets Grand WaZoo apart. Nobody does it better.

GRAND WAZOO is a top sight-reading band too and has backed or supported International and Australian artists, including: Wilson Pickett Band, Sam + Dave, Venetta Fields, Al Martino, Leo Sayer, Ross Wilson, Anthony Callea, Jon Stevens, Rhonda Burchmore, Tim Campbell, Mahalia Barnes, Ian Stenlake, Jeff Duff, Marcia Hines, Hollywood Brown, Reg Livermore, Peter Cupples, Hot Chocolate, Lisa Edwards, Renee Geyer, Normie Rowe, Kate Ceberano, Jackie Love, Max Merritt, Todd McKenney, Bobby Valentine, Joe Camilleri and many others. Any artist with their own charts may be backed by the band. After working with Montesante in Australia during the 1980s, US Soul duo, Sam + Dave invited him to become their arranger and MD, but his commitment to the Australian scene made that impossible at the time.

The Band's live media appearances have included many regular TV spots on GMA (Good Morning Australia), Hey Hey It's Saturday, Midday Show, Denise, Don Lane Show,The Footy Show and several 'live' radio shows.

Not only does Grand WaZoo sound amazing, with its big brassy presence, but looks like a Soul outfit should, presenting a harmonious, multi-generational and multi-racial line up - with wide appeal to all age groups. The band always works at full strength, due to the orchestrations and because it values all its artists. It showcases at least 3 of its stellar pool of singers at any gig, who work together in various combos, presenting the finest Soul voices in Australia. Grand WaZoo is available to work local, interstate and international.

The Gigs:

GRAND WAZOO has a  repertoire of 310 superbly arranged and composed  tunes.

The band's Soul Extravaganza pays tribute to all the Black Soul artists of the 1960s and 1970s from Ray Charles to Motown, from James Brown to Aretha Franklin, from Al Green to Prince, from Tina Turner to Etta James and many others. The band may also focus on particular artists within its repertoire upon request,

The band's Soul Divas Show delivers the iconic and popular tunes of the great Female Soul artists of the era, and goes down a treat.  Both these shows are ideal for dancing. The band also has many ballads available, should clients prefer a listening, seated event.

Grand WaZoo generally presents 2 x one hour sets with an interval, although there is some flexibility for special events, functions, festivals and media.

The extensive repertoire and talent base means the band performs for all events: Private Functions, Major Events, Outdoor Stages, Concerts, Parties, Nightclubs, Venues, Live Media, Corporate, Conference, Awards Nights, Festivals and as Show Band. Grand WaZoo performs a live public showcase from time to time, so if a client wants to see the band prior to booking, it is worthwhile to go along.

The band's quality and longevity takes it to the higher end of the entertainment market, where it is the BAND OF CHOICE when Superb Music and Unrivalled Entertainment Value is required. You've seen the rest. Come back to the BEST!


1985: LP-Vinyl: "GW:Reverend Blues & The Blues Messengers"
1998: Studio CD : "Grand WaZoo-Band of 1000 Dances"
2002: Live Concert CD/DVD: "Max Merritt's 40th Anniversary Concert", backed by Grand WaZoo-Kings of Soul
2005: Tribute CD: "Grand WaZoo & The Legendary King of Soul, Alvie Lee Johns Jnr" (RIP)
2008: Live Gig Album: "Grand WaZoo:Soul Monster-Live". Historic one-take "live" recording on 10 year anniversary of band's weekly Sunday Soul Sessions @ the Rainbow Hotel.
Grand WaZoo is planning a new album in late 2016 to celebrate 35 years of ongoing performance.

ps Occasionally we post clips of the band on YouTube on:

Set List

Check our band repertoire on this link. The band creates special set-lists to suit client, venue or festival requirements, with over 300 tunes available.