Mingus Amongst Us at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in July 2013
PREVIEW: Stonnington Jazz, 15-25 May 2014
Joe Hockey says the age of entitlement is over, but he is wrong. Over the next few weeks there will be no deficit of live improvised music in Melbourne and that is only fitting. As promises are broken and voters wake up to exactly what terrible things they initiated by voting to stop the boats, we are entitled to seek comfort in music.
The winter season of jazz festivals is almost upon us and, in the absence of a jazz fringe festival this year, Stonnington Jazz — which last year was judged Best Cultural, Arts or Music Event in Victoria at the Australian Event Awards — is first up.
If you’ve never been before, this showcase of 100 per cent Australian jazz (often including expat artists now living abroad) has two main venues, Malvern Town Hall and Chapel Off Chapel, plus a bunch of other bars and restaurants in the city. At the opening night, the town hall is tastefully decked out and guests can watch it all unfold while seated at tables and enjoying drinks and snacks from the bar at the rear.
This year opening night on Thursday, May 15 will feature New York-based expatriate vocalist Chris McNulty — winner of the Bell Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album of 2013 — and singer, songwriter and pianist Sarah McKenzie, also now living in New York, who won the 2012 ARIA Award for her album Close Your Eyes.
Stonnington Jazz this year will feature two concerts celebrating family connections in music. Popular multi-instrumentalist James Morrison will perform with his sons William and Harry in the James Morrison Inheritance on May 22 at Malvern Town Hall. And clarinet player Denis Ball will perform with his son, trumpeter Eugene, in a sextet at Chapel off Chapel at 2pm on May 18.
Other drawcards will be much-loved vocalist Vince Jones performing with Monash University Jazz, an ensemble comprising students that features Rob Burke on sax and Paul Grabowsky on piano.
Dance lovers will be energised by The Melbourne Rhythm Project, which brings together The New Sheiks and dancers led by Ramona Staffield.
And for something completely different, pianist-singer-composer Martin Martini will presents his suite ‘Vienna 1913’ which draws inspiration from the art and lives of the major modernists of the time, such as Schiele, Klimpt, Koskoschka and Hoffmann.
Lovers of traditional jazz will be given an opportunity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Syncopators in a special concert at Malvern Town Hall.
That’s pretty much where the press release information finishes, although it does also mention that festival patron Allan Browne will be plying his drums with Sydney saxophonist Phil Noy and bassist Tamara Murphy at COC on May 22. It’s one of my predicted highlights, which this year are almost entirely chosen from the line-ups at Chapel Off Chapel — a real favourite place of mine to hear live music because it’s possible to get up close and personal with the music.
So here are my recommendations, for what they’re worth:
Saturday 17 May, COC, 8pm, Sexteto Zona Sul/Panorama Do Brazil
Doug de Vries, on guitar, will feature in both sets of this night of Brazilian-influenced jazz.
Sunday 18 May, COC, 2pm Sugarfoot Ramblers/Denis Ball & Eugene Ball
Tap your foot to 20 musicians in the first set, then enjoy the chance to hear father and son in a superb sextet.
Monday 19 May, COC, 8pm Mingus Amongst Us
This celebration of the blues and gospel-influenced compositions of Charles Mingus will enthral and excite. Don’t miss it.
Tuesday 20 May, COC, 8pm David Rex Quartet/Cannonball
Check out the power of the Rex brothers then enjoy a sack o’ woe from Cannonball Adderley, as interpreted by Tim Wilson and friends.
Joe O’Connor at the National Jazz Awards, Wangaratta
Thursday 22 May, COC, 8pm Joseph O’Connor Trio/Browne Noy Murphy
Check out the compositions of young National Jazz Awards winner O’Connor on piano, then be prepared for whimsical humour and great expression from Al Browne, Phil Noy on reeds and Tamara Murphy on double bass.
Mirko Guerrini performs in Acquacheta at Wangaratta Jazz Festival
Friday 23 May, COC, 8pm Acquacheta/Grabowsky Sanzone: The Italian Project
Saxophonist Mirko Guerrini’s project with guitarist Stephen Magnusson was a hit at Wangaratta last year, and whatever Grabowsky and Sydney vocalist Virna Sanzone create will be worth hearing.
Saturday 24 May, COC, 8pm Chantal Mitvalsky/Paul Williamson Hammond Jazz Party
Always a hoot to enjoy the warm, wonderful vibe of this party sporting a Hammond B3.
Saturday 24 May, MTH, 8pm The Syncopators 30th Anniversary
Expect this to be packed.
Sunday 25 May, COC, 8pm Marinucci Grant Quintet/Alan Lee Quartet Reunion
Great line-up for the first set with Gianni Marinucci (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Steve Grant (cornet), Tony Gould (piano), Frank Di Sario (bass) and Danny Farrugia (drums). And then Alan Lee will reunite with old friends Gould, Derek Capewell (bass) and Ted Vining (drums).
There are many more concerts to enjoy, including Bob Sedergreen and friends in a set after the Stonnington Youth Jazz Initiative on May 21.
Think about it. Promises are being broken. Taxes are being raised. Retirements are being delayed. Renewable energy is being wound down. Global warming is being ignored. The ABC is being cut. The workforce is being casualised.
My suggestion is to get out now and enjoy live music before the end of the world as we know it eventuates.
TO BOOK TICKETS: Phone 82907000 or go to www.chapeloffchapel.com.au
For full program information go to: www.stonningtonjazz.com.au