Twenty years showcasing world class jazz in Melbourne

MIJF 2017 Horns of Leroy - photo by Brandon LiAustralia’s pre-eminent jazz festival recognised internationally for the creativity and depth of its programming, this year the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) will celebrate 20 years of extraordinary jazz in all its forms.

The 10-day program offers something for everyone, from jazz masters in world-class venues to intimate club performances; gigs in cafes in Melbourne’s west to cross-artform collaborations; and free community events that will have audiences dancing to New Orleans brass band sounds along the Yarra River. MIJF 2017 will feature nearly 500 Australian, international and emerging artists who will perform in over 120 events in 27 bars, clubs and venues across Melbourne.

Michael Tortoni, Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director, explains it has been extraordinary to watch the festival grow over the past two decades. “Over the past twenty years the Melbourne International Jazz Festival has developed into a centrepiece of Australia’s cultural scene that continually delivers a world class event which attracts amazing jazz artists,” said Tortoni.

“This year is no exception, with a program that pays homage to the past while also showcasing new directions, both from the international scene and our own thriving Australian jazz community.”

This year MIJF continues to program some of the world’s best jazz artists from a dozen countries, including Dianne Reeves (USA), Tigran Hamasyan (Armenia), Satoko Fujii (Japan), Kenny Barron (USA), Vince Jones (Australia), Andrea Keller (Australia), The Steve McQueens (Singapore), Myele Manzanza (New Zealand), Pascal Schumacher (Luxembourg), Yotam Silberstein Quartet (Israel), NAK Trio (Poland) and MaxMantis (Switzerland).

Some of the other outstanding jazz artists featured in the MIJF 2017 program include jazz luminary Carla Bley (USA) and her longstanding trio who will make their Australian debut; one of the world’s most legendary jazz guitarists, Bill Frisell (USA); The Donny McCaslin Group (USA) make their festival debut after leaping to worldwide prominence for their extraordinary contribution to David Bowie’s final Grammy Award-winning album, Blackstar; and the legendary improvising trio The Necks (Australia) will perform an exclusive four-night residency at Melbourne’s brand-new jazz club, The Jazzlab in Brunswick.

In a Festival-exclusive special event, MIJF celebrates the centenary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth with a spectacular performance from Patti Austin (USA) and Australia’s own James Morrison, who will honour Ella and her musical partner Louis Armstrong with the timeless hits from the Great American Songbook that will be unforgettably realised in collaboration with the lush textures of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Ensuring that jazz remains as accessible and relevant today as it was at its birth in the early 20th century, MIJF continues its long-term commitment to free community events and to supporting the next generation of artists and audiences. This year the Festival will bring jazz outside and celebrate with a Second Line Street Party featuring Melbourne’s own Horns of Leroy and Swing Patrol.

The Second Line Street Party is a free New Orleans-inspired joyous musical march that welcomes all Melburnians and jazz enthusiasts to dance their way through Southbank along the banks of the Yarra River to Federation Square, where there will be a free outdoor concert.

On the final Saturday of the Festival, the Melbourne Town Hall will be packed to the rafters for Play School’s Big Jazz Adventure and Swing City – one of the most heart-thumping and adrenaline-pumping events on the swing dance calendar.

From its original base in Footscray, the hugely popular Jazz Out West series has grown to include Moonee Valley and Yarraville, with a program of free and low-cost events featuring Au Dré, Shio, Senegambian Jazz Band, Maria Moles and Adam Halliwell, Music Yared, Gospel Sundays and Julie O’Hara performing La Grande Soirée at Clocktower Centre.

Free events during the festival include the Juilliard Free Lunchtime Jazz series, Close Encounters conversation sessions, Sound
Walks and Sound Portraits where a personalised jazz tune is composed live at various locations. Several free discussion panels will address the impact of English as the dominant language in singing, what it means to be a musician in Melbourne’s inner west and increasing the representation of women in jazz on and off stage.

Running 1 – 12 June 2017, the 20th Melbourne International Jazz Festival offers a stunning and immersive program of unmissable headliners, intimate club gigs, late-night jams, close encounters, workshops, family events and free concerts. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Horns of Leroy – photo by Brandon Li