The Melbourne International Jazz Festival Summer Sessions return again – kicking off the year with a series of world-class jazz. The re-opened Bennetts Lane Jazz Club will play host to the Vince Jones Quartet, Ethio-jazz giant Hailu Mergia, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii’s astounding improvisation project KAZE, and a celebration of Australian saxophone legend David Ades in A Life in a Day! While the Hiatus Kaiyote rhythm section take over the Shebeen Bandroom in Swooping Duck. Enjoy balmy evenings and cool jazz this summer.
Vince Jones Quartet (AUS)
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club: 9 & 10 January
If there was one voice in Australian jazz more recognized than any other, it would be that of Vince Jones. Our leading vocalist, interpreter, trumpet player and composer has entertained and informed us for decades with his ever-evolving elite group of musicians. Vince’s music includes original songs and beautiful contemporary versions of jazz standards, which focus on themes of love, injustice and peace. The heart of his work lies at the crossroads of Afro-American blues and the melodies of the Celtic folk tradition. The songs he chooses – written by him or by others – always make an original, personal statement.
Swooping Duck (AUS)
Shebeen Bandroom: 14 January
Bender, Pez & Simon, aka the Hiatus Kaiyote rhythm section, perform 100% improvised music in a stripped-back sonic experiment. No tunes. Zero material to fall back on. Just ears, adrenaline, and pure improvisation. Opening DJ set by MzRizk.
Hailu Mergia with Tony Buck & Mike Majkowski (ETH/AUS)
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club: 15 January
The return of Hailu Mergia to the world of music is one of jazz’s most unlikely comebacks. A member of Ethiopia’s trailblazing Walias Band in the 1970s, in 1981 Mergia used the first-ever US tour of an Ethiopian music group to escape the dictatorial Mengistu regime. Spending most of his recent years as a taxi driver, he cut one solitary album in 1985 – Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument – which was unearthed in Ethiopia nearly 30 years later by Brian Shimkovitz of blog-turned-record-label Awesome Tapes from Africa. Shimkovitz tracked down Mergia, re-released the album and revived Mergia’s career. Mergia has now joined forces with a hard-to-beat rhythm section made up of two leading Berlin-based Australian improvisors: double bassist Mike Majkowski (sideman to Hans Bennink and Peter Brötzmann) and drummer Tony Buck (The Necks). Together the trio explores the deep, liquid and hypnotic qualities of Hailu Mergia’s music, combining a futuristic sound steeped in Ethiopian homeland flavour with unique grooves and angular melodies.
A Life in a Day (AUS)
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club: 16 January
Legendary Australian saxophonist David Ades is remembered for his majestic phrases, searing tone and glorious melodies, and his playing epitomised honesty, singularity and courage. David tragically lost his battle with lung cancer in late 2013. Incredibly, only weeks before he died, he recorded an album of new material in New York, A Life in a Day, which is being released posthumously on Lionsharerecords. Join David’s close friends Zac Hurren and Julien Wilson as they pay a fond and heartfelt tribute to Ades and his music.
Satoko Fujii and KAZE (JAP/FRA)
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club: 17 January
Two internationally-renowned Japanese musicians + two extraordinary French musicians = electrifying new music for the world. Kaze brings together two of Japan’s foremost improviser-composers – trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii – with trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins from the French improvisers collective, Muzzix. The members of this international quartet share an insatiable appetite for sonic experimentation, boundless energy and enthusiasm, and the disciplined intelligence of accomplished spontaneous composers. Melodic, abstract, mysterious, beautiful, and confrontational, Kaze plays free jazz at its most creative and powerful.
For more information and bookings, visit: www.melbournejazz.com for details.
Image: Swooping Duck – photo by Shayan Hathaway