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

Wang back in 2022, NJA awards online

Sam Anning performs at Wangaratta in 2015. Live music will return to Wang next year, the festival has announced.

Earthquakes, violence in the streets, Covid numbers climbing … what else can go wrong?

Well, as many of us no doubt anticipated, the jazz and blues won’t be happening at Wangaratta again this year due to the vaccination targets agreed on by national cabinet not being attainable in time.

However, the good news is that the National Jazz Awards will proceed as online concerts and that the festival promises to return in the flesh on Cup weekend in 2022. That’s cause to celebrate, surely.

Here’s the announcement posted on the wangarattajazz.com website:

“In light of the continuing COVID restrictions, organisers of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues have made the decision not to proceed with the 2021 festival, however the much-loved National Jazz Awards, a highlight of the event, will be presented in a series of free online concerts from 29 – 31 October 2021.

The 10 National Jazz Awards finalists will be announced at the end of September along with details of the online schedule. The awards, which feature piano this year, have attracted strong interest from across Australia. 
The Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues plans to return in 2022 to its traditional long weekend dates leading up to the Melbourne Cup. The program will be announced in April at a special launch event in Wangaratta. 
We thank our audiences and artists and look forward to returning live in 2022.” 

Two tasty, then special Omelette

Anthony Schulz in a duo performance with Nick Tsiavos on double bass at Cross Street Hall, East Brunswick.

As Victoria begins another lockdown and once again musicians and venues face cancellations and postponements, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of how important live music has been in the short interludes in which we have been able to escape pandemic restrictions and get out to hear it.

The idea is to share images rather than words about these gigs, but it is hoped that the photographs capture some of the magic in performances that have cost little to attend compared with those in grander settings and yet have brought so much joy to those in the audience and, I’m sure, those at work on stage who have often had little opportunity recently to play for people in the same room and not on screens.

Schulz – Tsiavos meets Omelette
Socialist Jazz Club
Friday 25 June 2021, Cross Street Hall, East Brunswick

Anthony Schulz (accordion) and Nick Tsiavos (acoustic bass) have been, in their words, “exploring the instabilities of improvisational practice to develop a musical language that transcends the idiosyncratic ideas around their instruments – at all times searching for beauty within the chaos and dissonance of modernity”. 

In the engrossing opening set on this Friday evening, Tsiavos and Schulz produced plenty of beauty, but also much tension at times. One image in the gallery below reveals the intensity – even ferocity – that can be conveyed on the accordion. There was literally not a dull moment in this encounter.

In the second set, Jordan Murray on trombone joined Ronny Ferella on drums and Stephen Magnusson on guitar as Omelette, creating in the moment as they do so well. Later they were joined by Tsiavos, Schulz and Sam Keevers on piano to cap off a sublime evening – again demonstrating that the Socialist Jazz Club’s “experiment in collective energy” has delivered.

Roger Mitchell

Images © ausjazz.net