Returning for its twenty-first year, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival continues to demonstrate that ‘jazz can happen anywhere’ for ten days with over 100 events that feature nearly 400 Australian, international and emerging artists this June.
This year jazz will hit all the right notes in 26 venues across the city ranging from the world-class Hamer Hall to intimate clubs, plus vibrant café gigs in Melbourne’s west and free festival community events including Jazz Massive – a huge participatory mass-music making event on the lawns of State Library Victoria.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Michael Tortoni, says that this year’s festival illustrates that jazz is the common ground that brings together a diversity of artists, genres and experiences. “This year our program focuses on the waves of influence that jazz has – both within itself and also the influence it has on other music genres,” said Tortoni. “We are really excited to showcase some of the future directions of this vital and ever-evolving artform.”
The 2018 program features an impressive range of international artists, including funk legend Maceo Parker (USA) paying tribute to Ray Charles, jazz-blues chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux (USA), the (inter)stellar Sun Ra Arkestra (USA) and the irrepressibly energetic Yemen Blues (USA); plus modern masters such as Branford Marsalis (USA), Gretchen Parlato (USA), Christian McBride (USA) and Terri Lyne Carrington (USA); alongside future masters such as Nubya Garcia (UK) and Francesco Cafiso (Italy).
Many outstanding Australian artists are also showcased in the festival program, including The Others – a new collaboration between Paul Grabowsky AO, James Morrison and Kram; Harry James Angus’ new project, Struggle With Glory; and Brenton Foster as the recipient of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission.
Melbourne-based Barney McAll will premiere two works: Trilogy of Cycles at Birrarung Marr’s Federation Bells and Sweet Sweet Spirit featuring music by the great gospel composer Doris Akers at Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre.
The festival’s international exchange program with the Tokyo and Singapore jazz festivals is supporting the development and world premiere of The Gravity Project, which brings together contemporary Japanese and Australian improvisers Paul Grabowsky AO, Masaki Nakamura, Kuniko Obina and Aaron Choulai and the Chok Kerong Trio from Singapore.
Jazz Out West returns with local DJ, radio broadcaster and music personality Mz Rizk as Guest Programmer, focussing on a range of experiences not usually found in a jazz festival, including a cross-genre tribute to high priestess of soul: Nina Simone and emerging crossover artists Thando, Cool Out Sun, KillaHertz and Kalala & The Round Midnights.
The festival offers a substantial free events program, which includes Sound Walks throughout the city, free lunchtime concerts at St James and the long-running artist workshops and Close Encounters series, which has expanded to include career development workshops led by industry experts and practitioners including Chelsea Wilson (Brunswick Music Festival), Fem Belling (The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra), Marcus Strickland (Christian McBride’s New Jawn / Twi-life) and many others.
Family-friendly festival events include Lah-Lah’s Big Jazz Adventure and the Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir at Southern Cross Lane. Embedded in one of the world’s greatest music cities, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival allows audiences to experience some of the best jazz artists and to be immersed in a stunning program which offers something for everyone.
The 2018 Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs 1 – 10 June. For more information and full program, visit: www.melbournejazz.com for details.
Image: Thando – photo by Juan Castro