A quick guide to Melbourne’s jazz festival

Versatile: Bassist/composer/vocalist Sam Anning will lead his septet of fantastic musicians at the MRC on December 3, 6.30pm.

As we leave our long lockdown, tickets go on sale today, Friday 22 October 2021, for the reworked and quite compressed Melbourne International Jazz Festival that will mostly take place over four days from Thursday 2 December.

It will provide a welcome burst of live music allowing patrons and musicians to enjoy the experience of live music in the flesh, albeit with constraints of required vaccination, appropriate distancing and masks where appropriate, plus the QR code check-ins we have become so used to.

I usually post a program preview each year, but the details of the new program were released only yesterday, so I have just been catching up on what’s on the program. In the hope that I can help everyone decide quickly what to choose, I have prepared a table that summarises the gigs scheduled for each day, with the venues, ticket prices, times and concert details listed.

You should be able to right-click on the image to view it, then easily decide what concerts are of interest, then visit the festival website to book. I hope it helps.

ROGER MITCHELL

Book now for Wangaratta jazz & blues

Was Wangaratta the Naked City in 2014? The scene in the early hours of Monday at a Pinsent Hotel jam session of interest.

That heading is misleading in one way and not in another. Many fans of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues are longing for the return of that Cup weekend gathering at which we have in past years enjoyed a feast of music and the experiences that inevitably go with that event. It is is easy to despair at the imposed stoppage put on live music due to the pandemic constraints, often severe.

As a result, this year’s opportunity for the festival to return in the flesh has not materialised, and the National Jazz Awards held online will be the only part of this august festival held in 2021. However, as previously posted, the festival organisers – bless them, it must have been so tough to make the postponement decision – have announced that the event will be back in 2022. Amen to that.

So, while it is impossible to book now for concerts next year, there is a book now in the offing that promises to bring us the magic of our hangs at Wang, along with all the saucy tidbits that longtime artistic director Adrian Jackson and journalist/musician Andra Jackson are about to release in print.

This is timely as we cannot attend, so we must reminisce in the privacy of our homes, settling down with a good book instead of enduring Zoom meetings.

The Wang hang has been such a rewarding experience in many ways. The musicians, organisers and volunteers have made it so. As I continue to miss the annual escape to Wangaratta in past years, I can’t help but recall the buzz that so often filled the Pinsent hotel at festival’s end as musicians and others involved let off steam and relived another series of improvisational highlights.

Back in 2014 my review after attending 25 concerts began with these words:

“The 1948 film entitled The Naked City closed with the line, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City and this has been one of them.” Well, one story to come out of the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival in its 25th year was about a young man, possibly a guitarist, who it is alleged was close to naked on stage at the Sunday night jam session in a local pub of some interest to jazz fans.

“That’s one story, and there will be a lot more — if not quite eight million, at least as many as there were patrons at this long weekend feast of great music.”

Well, Adrian Jackson has spilled the beans and let the cats out of the bags. The myth that what happened in Wang stayed in Wang has been busted. Well, I’m hoping that’s the case, because the book about to hit the presses will be all the richer for it if he does deliver on these back stories.

The word from Andra Jackson is that crowd funding has been needed to raise money to make sure this book celebrating 30 years of the Wangaratta Jazz festival can be published this year. It was to be launched at the festival, but now it will be an entree to the years ahead as well as a chance to relive many moments that national and international performers have given us.

“We have a publisher but have been unable in this present climate to attract any government funding, hence this fundraiser appeal,” Andra says.”So, here you can take a peek inside the book, order a copy or put your hand up for any of the fabulous prizes you can nominate for when you donate and/or order the book.Please share this link as widely as possible with friends or on any mailing list you may have:
https://www.pozible.com/profile/adrian-jackson-2

As at time of posting there are five days left to join in this fundraising effort and ensure this 30-year anniversary book will be out soon for us all to read. Let’s make it happen. And get vaxxed.

Roger Mitchell

 

Hopes still high for Melbourne jazz festival

Wayne Shorter performs at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in 2016, when international travel was possible.

Music fans and musicians, along with all those involved in live music, have been holding out for the return of in-the-flesh concerts. We have felt despair as our hopes gradually faded with the Delta variant lifting numbers of infections and prolonging lockdown restrictions.

We await details, but the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is working to ensure the festival can proceed this year. Big Sunday has been postponed until 2022 and will take place on October 15 next year.

Here is the text – many may have already seen it – posted on the festival website:

“Following advice from the Victorian Government on the state’s roadmap out of lockdown, it is now clear that our Festival won’t be able to proceed as planned in October.

“But all is not lost!

“In anticipation of the recent Government announcement, we have been busy working behind the scenes to ensure our 2021 Festival can still go ahead this year. We’ll be back with a full program of live, in-person events.

“The safety of Festival staff, artists and audiences is and has always been our first priority and the decision to postpone has been made with the aim of allowing as many people as possible to safely participate in and experience MIJF performances and events. The live experience is so important to this artform and we want to give our audience the chance to see the artists they love – live and on stage.

“We’ll be making a full program announcement in the coming weeks – so stay tuned!”

Let’s hope as much as possible of this year’s festival can proceed once vaccination levels permit the opening up of live music venues.

Roger Mitchell