Xani Kolac Image supplied
Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival,November 24 to December 10, 2017
I suppose the reason why we don’t have a men’s international jazz festival in Melbourne – or anywhere – is that it would be doubling up on what we often experience at jazz gigs – that is, a predominance of male performers.
So, until that changes, and we no longer need a women’s festival because most gigs feature women musicians, let’s celebrate the work of, and the depth of talent among, the many female practitioners of jazz or improvised music.
This year Sonja Horbelt has programmed a ripper of a festival in Melbourne with a great deal of talent from Australia and overseas, including expatriate trombonist Shannon Barnett and internationally-acclaimed Korean musician Hyelim Kim.
Full details are available on the festival website, but here’s a summary of the gigs on offer to whet your appetite. This is an inexpensive way to hear and celebrate the considerable talent of the many women musicians who compose and play jazz.
Friday, November 24, 5.30pm 6pm-8pm, Sharny Russell Quartet, $15/$10, Uptown Jazz Cafe
An Australian pianist/vocalist/composer based in Byron Bay, Sharny Russell has put together an all female line up to also acknowledge the “International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women”. It comprises Russell vocals/piano, Angela Davis saxophone, Annette Yates bass and Sonja Horbelt drums
Saturday November 25, 3pm-5pm, Quadrifid, Free, Two Birds Brewery, Spotswood
‘Quadrifid’ is a chordless, all female jazz quartet that plays original groove based music as well as some jazz standards and arrangements. It features Lauren Mullarvey – saxophone (Cactus Channel), Ellie Lamb – trombone (Stand By Your Woman, The Bean Project), Elise Winterflood – bass (La Busca, Old Hat), Alex Roper – drums.
Sunday November 26, 3pm-5pm, Kathleen Halloran Trio, Free, Two Birds Brewery Spotswood
Kathleen Halloran is a guitarist based in Melbourne. At 22, she has over six years’ experience as a working musician, including professional music theatre and also international work with Broadway vocalist Brad Little. She has performed alongside Australian artists including Kate Ceberano, Kate Miller Heidke, Tim Rogers, Tex Perkins, Jen Cloher and Harry Angus (Cat Empire).In her own trio, Kathleen offers floating melodies on top of intricate and moving harmonies. Joining Kathleen are Kim May (Double bass) and Darryn Farrugia (drums) for two sets of new original music.
Sunday December 3, 7pm for 8pm, SPIRE + Girls Do Jazz, $25/$20, The Jazzlab
First set: SPIRE ensemble, a collective of Melbourne instrumentalists, all women, present a program of all original contemporary jazz works. The line-up comprises Xani Kolac (violin), Kathleen Halloran (guitar), Claire Cross (bass), Lena Douglas (keys), Maria Moles (drums), Savannah Blount (tenor saxophone), Cheryl Durongpisitkul (alto saxophone), Ellie Lamb (trombone) and Charlie Woods (trumpet).
Second set: Girls Do Jazz is a jazz band comprised of current Jazz & Improvisation students at the Victorian College of the Arts. The ensemble is led by Andrea Keller, Lecturer in Jazz & Improvisation at the VCA/MCM. The emphasis is on Australian contemporary jazz. The band comprises Bella Winter – alto saxophone, Kathleen Halloran – guitar, Alex Rindfleish – piano, Robbie Finch – double bass and Alex Czarnecki-Roper – drums.
Monday December 4, 7pm for 7.30pm, Student night, $15/$10, The Jazzlab
Performers from Mac.Robertson Girls High School, Ruyton Girls School and Siena College play big band music from traditional to more contemporary styles.
Tuesday December 5, 7.30pm for 8pm, Lijuka/Hyelim Kim, $20/$15, The Jazzlab
First set: Lijuka – Katrina Owen on saxophone / vocals, Libby Ferris on guitar / vocals, and Julia Bebenek on drum kit / vocals, are a Melbourne trio whose sound swings from ambient drone based musings to jazz-infused grooves.
Second set: Hyelim Kim is an internationally-acclaimed Korean musician, based in London, who is a virtuoso on the taegŭm (the traditional horizontal bamboo flute). A multi-award winning PhD who has performed in New York and London, she is acknowledged as a young performer who has taken a leading role in breathing new life into Korean traditional music, recording both traditional works and her own compositions. For this concert, ‘Scattering Rhythms’, she is collaborating with Australian musicians Simon Barker (drums) and Peter Knight (trumpet & electronics).
Wednesday December 6, 8pm for 8.30pm, QoQo8 CD launch, $20/$15, The Jazzlab
QoQo8 – comprising Nilusha Dassenaike: vocals, Anthony Schulz: piano, piano accordion, Adam Starr: guitar, vocals and Tommy Harrison: drums, vocals – was created to bring rich harmony and deep grooves to the ambience of modal-based improvised music. It is a 4-way compositional collective that puts a new spin on the East/West fusion beloved by Shakti and Joe Zawinul, bringing orchestral soundscapes to the meditative grooves and modal improvisations of music from the Sri-Lankan Buddhist tradition.
Thursday December 7, 8pm for 8.30pm, Flora & Audrey CD launch, $20/$15, The Jazzlab
Two of Melbourne’s most exciting young horn players, trumpeter Audrey Powne and saxophonist Flora Carbo, join Joseph O’Connor piano, Marty Holoubek bass and James McLean drums to play original music written specifically for this project.
Friday December 8, 8pm for 9pm, The Sally Ford Clinic, , The Jazzlab
Sally Ford leads these all-star specialists bringing together their disparate musical backgrounds in tex mex, afrobeat, salsa, film music, ska, reggae and funk, to lay down some relaxed and rootsy dance grooves with Dr Hernández, prescribing a triple dose of electro-cumbia, funky reggae and boogaloo. The line-up comprises Sally Ford – lead vocals, alto sax & flute, Patrick Cronin -trumpet, percussion & backing vocals, Michael Havir – keyboards & audiology, David Joseph – drums, Karen Berger – percussion, Alisha Brooks – saxophone, Audrey Powne – trumpet and Darcie Foley – trombone.
Friday December 8, 11pm, Shannon Barnett (Germ/Aus/US), Free, The Jazzlab
Melbourne-born Shannon Barnett completed a Master of Music at the State University of New York, under the tuition of John Fedchock and Jon Faddis. In 2014, Barnett was offered the 2nd Trombone position in the WDR Big Band; based in Cologne, Germany. In 2017, she released the album ‘Hype’ (Double Moon) with her German quartet, featuring Stefan Karl Schmid (tenor saxophone), David Helm (bass) and Fabian Arends (drums). In this midnight set she will perform with Stephen Magnusson – Guitar, Ben Robertson – Bass and Rajiv Jayaweera – Drums.
Friday December 8, 8pm, Lauren Nottingham (NZ/UK), $20$16, The Jazzlab
Lauren Nottingham is a New Zealand singer who draws on a diverse stylistic palette of music including jazz, progressive rock, choral music and contemporary pop. Having recently returned from time in Berlin, she began collaborating with UK pianist/composer Mark Donlon resulting in the album Shadowbird (Fuzzymoon Records UK). Tonight’s show will feature jazz from German Gypsy Jazz to re-interpretations of songs by Madonna and David Bowie and original compositions from Shadowbird. She will be joined by Mark Donlon (UK) – piano, Hiroki Hoshino – bass and Mark Lockett (NZ) – drums.
Saturday December 9, 8pm for 9pm, Elly Hoyt (Bris/Melb): The Composer’s Voice, $28/$25, The Jazzlab
Ahead of a national album release in 2018, and comprising of entirely original compositions, ‘The Composer’s Voice’ explores personal stories of women in music from discovery, obstacles and overcoming. It is a diverse and powerhouse group of Australian composers including Andrea Keller, Angela Davis, Georgia Weber, Gian Slater, Hannah James, Kristin Berardi, Louise Denson, Martha Baartz, Nat Bartsch, Shannon Barnett, Sonja Horbelt and Tamara Murphy. Tonight’s gig will feature Ellie Hoyt on voice, Andrea Keller piano, Jonathan Zion on double bass, Raj Jayaweera on drums, Julien Wilson on tenor sax and Shannon Barnett on trombone.
Saturday December 9, 11pm, Shannon Barnett (Germ/Aus/US), Free, The Jazzlab
In this second midnight set, Shannon Barnett will be joined by Julien Wilson tenor saxophone, Marty Holoubek bass and Rajiv Jayaweera drums
Sunday December 10, 7pm for 8pm, Sophie Min/James Sherlock plus Andrea Keller Still Night in Poetry, $25/$20, The Jazzlab
First set: Sophie Min, a rising jazz pianist and composer who has toured Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Italy and Denmark and has performed at North Sea Jazz Festival, along with well known guitarist James Sherlock.
Second set: If you haven’t experienced Still Night: Music in Poetry, make a point of not missing it. This work is a 60-minute song-cycle combining poetry that spans centuries and the globe with music composed by Andrea Keller. A meditation on omnipresent sentiments of death, grief and loss, Still Night has been performed with a slightly different line-up, but on this occasion will feature Gian Slater – voice, Josh Kyle – voice, Julien Wilson – tenor saxophone & bass clarinet, Stephen Magnusson – guitar and Andrea Keller – piano. The text has been drawn from a selection of poetry including tenth-century Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu, nineteenth-century English poet John Keats, American writer Walt Whitman, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, French novelist Marcel Proust, American poet Sara Teasdale, and further into the twentieth-century with American writer e. e. cummings, Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas, to contemporary Australian poet, dancer and filmmaker Richard James Allen.
That’s the festival. Get out and enjoy it.