30 YEARS OF JAZZ MUST COUNT FOR SOMETHING

Barney McAll

Expatriate Barney McAll will return from New York to celebrate with MJC.

Will Arts Victoria notice? The co-operative that it recently decided was not worth a penny will turn on a mini festival of four concerts to mark its 30 years of bringing live improvised music to Melbourne audiences:

Melbourne has recently had cause to grieve. Its vibrant jazz scene has been threatened by Arts Victoria‘s mystifying decision not to provide any financial support in 2013 to the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative, an organisation integral to supporting the growth of musical talent and the development of live improvised music in this culturally rich city.

Now Melbourne has cause to celebrate. Over the Australia Day weekend the rich vein of annual festivals that includes the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival,  Stonnington Jazz and the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival is to be complemented by a mini festival to mark a historic event. But will Arts Victoria notice?

To celebrate 30 years of presenting continuous annual jazz programs in this city the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative will stage four concerts, beginning with a free outdoor lunchtime concert at City Square on Friday, January 25 from noon to 2pm featuring guitarist Craig Fermanis’ Trio followed by pianist Daniel Gassin’s Sextet.

On Saturday, January 26, the Jex Saarelaht Quartet with Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz will perform at the Uptown Jazz Café, 177 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, from 8.30pm ($15 & $12 concessions).

The main 30th Anniversary Concert — to be held on Sunday, January 27 at The Edge, Federation Square at 2pm ($30 & $20 concessions; $15 children) — will feature three trios of musicians who have been given a platform by the MJC over the years.

Paul Grabowsky

Paul Grabowsky displays his characteristic energy at Wangaratta Jazz.

New York-based pianist Barney McAll will be back in a gig featuring seven leading figures in the Melbourne contemporary jazz scene.

National Jazz Saxophone Award winner Julien Wilson  will join McAll (with whom he recorded in New York) in a trio with Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz.

Julien Wilson

Julien Wilson with Jonathan Zwartz at Wangaratta Jazz Festival 2012.

The MJC milestone will be fittingly marked also by two members of the dual-ARIA winning Browne-Costello-Grabowsky Trio, with which the co-operative staged its first concert exactly 30 years ago, on Sunday afternoon, January 30, 1983 at RMIT’s Glasshouse Theatre. Sadly bassist Gary Costello died in 2006, but pianist/composer Paul Grabowsky (recipient of the Melbourne Music Prize) and drummer Allan Browne will perform.

A recipient of the Don Banks Award and ‘Bell’ Australian Jazz Award Hall of Fame, Browne is also known for his compositions, poetry and delightfully irreverent sense of humour.

Allan Browne

Poetry in motion: Allan Browne plays Uptown Jazz Cafe.

Grabowsky and Browne will combine with the bassist Frank Di Sario to perform original compositions. A highlight will be a Grabowsky composition dedicated to Gary Costello.

Frank Di Sario

Frank Di Sario plays Bennetts Lane.

Browne will feature again during this celebratory concert in a third trio with two of  the many outstanding female instrumentalists on the Melbourne scene: triple ARIA winning pianist/composer Andrea Keller, and bassist/composer Tamara Murphy (leader of Murphy’s Law). They will play works from their album Carried by The Sun (Jazzhead), as well as new compositions.

Andrea Keller

Andrea Keller plays The Salon, MRC with Genevieve Lacey.

Tamara Murphy

Tamara Murphy plays Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.

Both McAll and Keller will also perform some solo piano pieces during this concert.

The MJC celebration will conclude on the evening of Sunday, January 27, with the Rabid Hawk sextet, led by guitarist Nash Lee, performing as part of the MJC’s regular Sunday night ‘A-Live Jazz’ series at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club. This  date also marks the 20th Anniversary of the MJC’s mutually beneficial collaboration with this well-respected venue.

Finally, as part of the co-op’s regular Tuesday night “Transitions” Series at Bennetts Lane, drummer Browne will perform work from Conjuror, his CD and book of poetry.

ROGER MITCHELL

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