19th Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival, December 4-11, 2016, Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club
On the eve of Donald Trump taking the reins in the United States of America, it seems appropriate — and indeed vital — for women and men of Australia (as Gough Whitlam used to say, albeit not in that order) to come out and enjoy music mostly created and played by women.
Artists from Canada, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne will share the products of their lifestyle choices over eight days from Sunday, December 4. And in that bittersweet way of a top festival, there will be clashes — occasions when you will be torn between gigs that you won’t want to miss, but must choose between.
Opening night will feature Jann Rutherford Memorial Award winner, pianist Emma Stephenson — along with Nick Henderson (bass) and Oli Nelson (drums) as Hieronymus Trio — in collaboration with inventive vocalist Gian Slater. Stephenson has composed new material and reworked earlier compositions for this performance. Slater has been a finalist in the Freedman Fellowship in 2004 and 2010, The National Jazz Awards in 2005, and the Bell Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2010 and 2013. Hieronymus Trio has been mentored by Ari Hoenig, John Riley, Aaron Goldberg, Craig Scott, Simon Barker and Matt McMahon.
On Monday, December 5 the festival student night will celebrate emerging female musicians with a line-up featuring performers from Loreto Toorak, Stonnington Youth Jazz Initiative, Lowther Hall and Ringwood Secondary College.
Tuesday, December 6 brings an opportunity to hear prolific composer and pianist Andrea Keller with Stephen Magnusson guitar and James McLean on drums in Transients V, one of her trios inspired by the philosophy and legacy of esteemed mentor Allan Browne. Based on a collective approach to music making, the trios perform original compositions, improvisations, as well as selections from the American and Australian songbooks.
Canadian multi-award winning pianist and vocalist Laila Biali appears for her first Australia performance with countrymen Adam Thomas (drums) and Joel Fountain (bass) on Wednesday, December 7. Laila has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Tokyo’s Cotton Club and Carnegie Hall. She has toured with Grammy award winners Chris Botti, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, recorded with and supported Sting and was “Keyboardist of the Year” at Canada’s National Jazz Awards.
On Thursday, December 8, Emma Gilmartin will join James Sherlock (guitar), Frank Di Sario (double bass) and Danny Fischer (drums) to launch her album The Emma Gilmartin Quartet: Live at Bennetts Lane recorded by Niko Schauble of Pughouse Studios. They will play standards and original compositions.
Two shows on Friday, December 9 highlight the extraordinary abilities of Melbourne’s creative women jazz artists.
In the Jazz Lab, Kennedy Snow featuring Nina Ferro presents originals from the recently released debut album Follow, the result of a longtime collaboration between Nina (recently returned from a decade residency in London) and Kennedy Snow (aka drummer Sonja Horbelt). Follow encompasses such styles as Neo-Soul, R&B, jazz and heart stopping ballads. They will also debut some new tunes, and play Ferro originals and classic R&B interpretations. The line-up will include long-time collaborators Kellie Santin (saxes) and Kim May (bass) with special guest Steve Sedergreen on piano and keys.
And in a special treat next door certain to set up a most difficult choice for patrons, the festival and Melbourne Jazz Co-operative co-present a solo piano double bill featuring friends and colleagues Nat Bartsch and Andrea Keller. These two extraordinary women pianists, composers and improvisers will share their unique sounds and distinctive work in a concert not be be missed.
And on Saturday, December 10, setting up another festival clash of competing drawcards, acclaimed Brisbane vocalist Kristin Berardi and The Balloons present work from her latest Bell Award winning album Where or When in the Jazz Lab. Appearing with Kristin are formidable Australian musicians on this ABC record release Julien Wilson (sax), James Sherlock (guitar), Steve Newcomb (piano) and Sam Anning (bass).
In the Jazz Room, MJC co-presents the composer Cheryl Durongpisitkul on saxophone, clarinet and flute in her octet with Felix Watson (trumpet), James Macaulay (trombone), Marcos Villalta (guitar), Lincoln Mckenzie (guitar), Harry Cook (piano), Stephen Hornby (double bass) and Leo Kavanagh (drums). Durongpisitkul has spent the past year writing a cohesive, narrative based piece, heavily influenced by Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Cheryl’s approach to music making is described as adventurous, quirky, beautiful and at times chaotic, ranging from contemporary jazz to third stream.
The festival closes on Sunday, December 11 with Spirograph Studies led by bassist Tamara Murphy, winner of the inaugural Young Elder of Jazz Commission for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Spirograph Studies takes a detailed, textural approach to improvised music. Inventors of the ‘gromp’, this strong collection of music-makers each bring their unique voice to the stage in a collaborative approach featuring Luke Howard (piano), Fran Swinn (guitar) and James McLean (drums).
The Melbourne Women’s International Jazz festival gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from major sponsors APRA AMCOS, Fraser Place Melbourne, The Canada Council for the Arts, Melbourne Jazz Co-operative and Brolly Design.