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ENJOY WOMEN AT WORK

Julia Bebenek

Julia Bebenek with Lijuka at The Jazzlab in December 2017.

PREVIEW:

Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival 2018

It’s time to once again do what we ought to be doing all year — celebrating the importance and contribution of women in the valuable work of making music, especially jazz. Melbourne and Sydney have excellent festivals to help us enjoy the work of women composers and improvisers, so let’s support these gigs.

I was unable to make the first two performances at this year’s MWIJF, which was a pity. But here is a rundown of what’s on from now until closing night on 9 December.

This is a small festival, yet there is nevertheless a clash (no festival is ever without one). So on Friday 7 December you’ll have to choose between Sandy Evans at The Salon and Kon Shes a little later at The Jazzlab.

I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Lijuka, the trio that won last year’s MWIJF recording prize. They’re playing in a double bill with Girls Do Jazz on 9 December.

All these gigs are reasonably priced so take the opportunity to hear great musicians at work.

ROGER MITCHELL

Now here’s what’s on:

Tuesday 4 December, 7pm, The Jazzlab, $20/15
Student Night

Young musicians from Mac.Robertson Girls High School, Ruyton Girls School and Siena College play traditional and contemporary big band music.

Wednesday 5 December, 8pm, The Jazzlab, $20/15
Double Bill:
Merinda Dias-Jayasinha Trio (Qld)

Vocalist Merinda Dias-Jayasinha joined by Theo Carbo (guitar) and Isaac Gunnoo (double bass) presents a set of original music (plus a standard or two) exploring streams of consciousness, and the states between reality and dreams.

Claire Cross – Moving Targets

Composer/bassist Claire Cross is joined by Tom Noonan alto saxophone, Harry Cook keys and Tommy Harrison drums to present Moving Targets, a project that explores stress, love, lust and loss through lyrical and unpredictable compositions. Blending folk idioms with contemporary jazz harmony the compositions will explore the transient nature of feelings.

Thursday 6 December 8pm, The Jazzlab, $20/15
Jam Jar CD launch

Energetic Melbourne trad jazz band Jam Jar offer an upbeat repertoire of original songs and beloved standards influenced by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and local bands The Red Onion Band and The Hoodangers. Their self-titled debut album is a lighthearted commentary on the apathy and anxieties of modern life and a yearning for a romanticised past. Expect toe-tapping tunes.

Jam Jar is Ellie Lamb trombone/vocals, Lauren Mullarvey clarinet/vocals, Bryce Turcato horn/vocals, Fiona Steele banjo, Tom Young double bass and Sean Newell drums

Friday 7 December 7pm, The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre, $30/25
Sandy Evans – Heart Rhythm Love (Syd/Melb)

Co-presented by the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative, the world premiere of Heart|Rhythm|Love will take the listener on a beautiful, thrilling and dynamic journey, seamlessly interweaving influences from Indian music and jazz in a joyous celebration.

The composer of this work, written and performed in honour of mridangam virtuoso Guru Kaaraikudi Mani, is Sandy Evans on saxophones. She is joined by Tripataka (Adrian Sherriff bass trombone, Jonathan Dimond electric bass guitar, Adam King drums) and Sai‐Sarangan Ravichandhira on mridangam.

Friday 7 December 8pm, The Jazzlab, $30/25
World premiere of Kon Shes (Aus/Sth Africa/Korea)

Fem Belling (vocals & electric violin) brings five of Melbourne’s finest musicians – Mina Yu piano, Tamara Murphy bass, Chelsea Allen drums and Angela Davis alto saxophone – to a new project combining live performance, political prose and the primal magic of music. The performance aims to increase the visibility of women in music in Australia and contribute to a larger voice of a social consciousness.

Saturday 8 December 8pm, The Jazzlab, $30/25
Harriett Allcroft CD launch – “Archie”

Harriett Allcroft (voice) launches her debut album Archie. It was recorded with James Bowers (piano), Tamara Murphy (bass), Kieran Rafferty (drums) and Shaun Rammers (tenor saxophone) this year, but Sam Keevers will be at the keyboard for this outing.

Expect infectious grooves and clever lyrics that make the brain tick.

Saturday 8 December 8, The Jazzlab, 11pm free entry
Festival Club – Jam session and general hang
This is a chance for female and non-binary musicians and vocalists to play in the jam session, or just plain hang out and connect with other musicians. In house PA, piano, bass amp, guitar amp and kit provided. All artforms welcome – jazz, trad, pop, funk, contemporary.

Sunday 9 December 3.30pm, The Jazzlab, free entry
Girls Do Jazz Secondary Program Concert

This concert showcases the work of The Girls Do Jazz workshop series, led by Andrea Keller, ran monthly over five Sundays in semester 2, 2018. Along with MCM alumni tutors, and undergraduate volunteers, the students engaged in jazz and improvisation studies covering free improvisation, the American songbook and compositions by contemporary Australian jazz musicians. This free concert showcases what they’ve been up to!

Lijuka: Katrina Owen, Libby Ferris and Julia Bebenek

Lijuka: Katrina Owen, Libby Ferris and Julia Bebenek

Sunday 9 December 7pm, The Jazzlab, $20/15
Double Bill:
Lijuka launch their debut single Registaan

Don’t miss the winners of the 2017 MWIJF Recording Prize, Lijuka. This band featuring Katrina Owen on saxophone and vocals, Libby Ferris on guitar and vocals, and Julia Bebenek on drum kit/vocals, returns to The Jazzlab to play original songs featuring acoustic and electronic sounds combined with live-looping. The gig will feature songs from their recent audio-visual work ‘Macro/Microcosm’ which debuted at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Lijuka would like to thank Myles Mumford (Rolling Stock Recording Rooms), and MWIJF for making this event possible.

Kathleen Halloran with Girls Do Jazz at the MWIJF 2017

Kathleen Halloran with Girls Do Jazz at the MWIJF 2017

Girls Do Jazz VCA
Girls Do Jazz is a jazz ensemble 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. From varied musical backgrounds, the members of Girls Do Jazz unite in celebration of female musicianship, with an emphasis on Australian contemporary jazz repertoire.

The line-up is Bella Winter on alto/soprano saxophones, Jade Nye on alto saxophone, Steph Fels on trombone, Alex Rindfleish on piano, Ross Anderson on bass and Ollie Cox on drums.

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CHORDS REFLECT CRISES, CULTURES

Cheryl

Cheryl Durongpisitkul performs Follow Me Through the Red Ash.      Image: Roger Mitchell

PREVIEW

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, November 2-4, 2018

Most music fans going to “Wang” this year will have made that decision some time ago, so this is intended as a guide to the myriad jazz gigs on offer.

With the Invictus Games fresh in our minds, the Australian Art Orchestra’s Friday night concert (8pm WPAC Theatre) entitled Sometimes Home Can Grow Stranger than Space is an appropriate starting point. Based on a concept by Paul Grabowsky AO, composers Andrea Keller, Tilman Robinson and AAO Artistic Director Peter Knight focus on those who tried to pick up their ‘normal’ lives after the war. In three world premieres inspired by Monash University Faculty of Arts’ One Hundred Stories – which remember not only the men and women who lost their lives, but also those gassed, crippled, insane and irreparably damaged by war who returned to Australia – the composers employ archival recordings, tape, electronics and improvisation. Expect this to be challenging and affecting.

Similarly significant and topical issues will be addressed musically on Saturday (6.30pm WPAC Theatre) when Sirens Big Band performs [A]part: an hour-long suite by trumpet player Ellen Kirkwood, featuring Andrea Keller (piano), Sandy Evans (saxophones) and Gian Slater (voice). This work is a response to world issues such as climate change, the refugee crisis and the omnipresence of the internet. This predominantly female and trans band is sure to deliver an arresting performance.

Alex Stuart

Alex Stuart.                      Image: Roger Mitchell

It’s great to have expatriate Australian guitarist Alex Stuart over from Paris again, this time with his French band – Irving Acao tenor saxophone and keyboards, Arno de Casanove trumpet and keyboards, Antoine Banville drums and Ouriel Ellert bass. Stuart’s fourth album, Aftermath (2017), reflects the dark turning points the world is facing, but is inspired by “the omnipresent and evident beauty that surrounds us”. Word is that this band is tight as and hot.

The quintet’s two outings (7.30pm Friday WPAC Hall and noon Saturday St Pat’s Hall) suffer a little from inevitable festival overlaps, but Melbourne audiences can also catch the band at 8pm on November 4 at The Jazzlab.

Less thematically concrete but definitely referencing the environment, Cheryl Durongpisitkul’s suite Follow Me Through the Red Ash (4pm Saturday, St Pat’s Hall) will draw on techniques in Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, Petrushka to explore what Nikos Fotakis has described as a musical narrative that is “a kind of mystical environmental fairy tale, about the balance of power within an ecosystem”.

This year’s program places less emphasis on the American jazz tradition, offering an eclectic mix of artists and influences from Europe, Japan, India, Iran, Moravia, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Indonesia.

As well as Stuart’s quintet, Europe is well represented by saxophonist Yuri Honing (Holland) and Trio Elf (Germany), both certain to be festival highlights.

Honing’s conviction that Europe is undervalued, along with his love for classical music, history and art, influenced his 2017 album Goldbrun. Desire was Holland’s No.1 best selling album in 2015. Honing on tenor saxophone will join Wolfert Brederode (Holland) on piano, Gulli Gudmundsson (Iceland) on bass and Joost Lijbaart (Holland) on drums for two concerts (10pm Friday, and 10.30pm Saturday, WPAC Theatre). Expect peace, serenity, tension and mysticism.

Trio Elf

Trio Elf. Image: Uli-Zrenner-Wolkenstein

Trio Elf’s acoustic line-up comprises Walter Lang on piano (expressive melodies and energetic chords), Peter Cudek on acoustic bass (melodious counterpoint and low-register synth-like grooves) and Gerwin Eisenhauer (a drum machine come alive). In two concerts (8.30pm Saturday, WPAC Theatre and 8.30pm Sunday, St Pat’s Hall) expect jazz, classical, rock and electronic influences from a trio crossing between the modernistic, hyper-rhythmic and a more lyrical, traditional approach.

Connections between Australian and Japanese musicians will bear fruit at Wang this year in three outings. Recently returned after time in Japan, Australian trumpeter Niran Dasika will join Japan’s Sumire Kuribayashi – known for her storytelling on piano – to present KIRI (noon Saturday, Holy Trinity Cathedral), a suite inspired by the ‘nihonga’ paintings of Kaii Higashiyama. In a dectet on Sunday (noon, WPAC Theatre) Dasika and Kuribayashi will present longer forms and orchestral textures in her Pieces of Colour, along with Akihiro Yoshimoto (saxophones), Reiko Yamamoto (vibes), Tomohiro Yahiro (percussion), Yuki Ito (bass), Hideaki Kanazawa (bass), Hiro Kimura (drums), Kengo Komae (drums) and Australia’s James Macaulay (trombone).

On Saturday (2pm, WPAC Hall) Macaulay will lead the Hishakaku Quartet – named after a Yakitori restaurant in Tokyo – with Dasika on trumpet, Marty Holoubek on bass and Japan’s Shun Ishiwaka on drums. Their debut album, recorded in Tokyo in October last year, features compositions by Macaulay, Dasika and Holoubek.

Indian musical traditions will be reflected in three concerts at Wang, two featuring cross-cultural ensemble The Three Seas (9.30pm Friday, WPAC Hall and 8pm Sunday, WPAC Theatre). Fusing modern Australian jazz with West Bengali folk music, the band comprises Matt Keegan on saxophone, Steve Elphick on bass, Raju Das Baul on vocals and khamak, Deo Ashis Mothey vocals, guitar and dotora, Gaurab Chatterjee on dubki and drums. Expect echoes of traditional Baul, carnatic and Nepalese folk songs in danceable music that radiates joy. Raj Das Baul will also perform solo (3.30pm Sunday, Cathedral) on khamak, a string instrument originating in India, drawing on the rich folk forms of Baul music.

Gelareh Pour

Gelareh Pour Image: Roger Mitchell

Contemporary Persian and Western motifs will blend (7pm Sunday, WPAC Hall) when Gelareh Pour’s Garden Quartet guarantees to sway the heart and persuade the feet to tap. The band features Pour on kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle) and voice, Mike Gallichio on electric guitar, Arman Habibi on santur (Persian hammered dulcimer) and voice, and Brian O’Dwyer on drum kit.

Composer and oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros AM will seamlessly bring middle-eastern and classical music together with jazz and his sharp wit on Sunday (5.30pm, Cathedral). Moravian influences will be evident when pianist Emil Viklicky – known for his response to Janacek’s Sinfonietta – performs in a duo with trumpeter Miroslav Bukovsky (1.30pm Sunday, Cathedral).

Adding to the international collaborations abundant at this festival, Indonesian master percussionist Cepi Kusmiadi will perform on the kendang sunda, a set of two-headed drums, with Australian musicians Julian Banks on saxophone, James Hauptmann on drums and Chris Hale on bass (4.30pm Sunday, WPAC Hall). They will perform music from their new album Agung, recorded in Denpasar to reflect their climbing of the volcano and good friends tackling adventure head on.

The Calling

Ray Pereira and Kanchana Karunaratna in The Calling. Image: Roger Mitchell

Sri Lanka is the focus of The Calling (1pm Saturday, WPAC Theatre), the fourth project in Adam Simmons’ acclaimed The Usefulness of Art concert series. This intensely personal work, performed by the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble with Afrolankan Drumming System and Vikram Iyengar, was inspired by sounds and experiences from Simmons’ first visit to Sri Lanka. Don’t miss it, if only to see whether Ray Pereira smiles.

Collaborations among Australian musicians have for many years delivered patrons at Wang the performances that are the most inspiring and long lasting in their impact. The huge amount of hard work and talent in this nation’s jazz musicians is regularly showcased at this festival. This year is no exception.

On Saturday (1pm, Cathedral) Sydney’s saxophonist, composer and educator Sandy Evans OAM will join Melbourne’s pianist, composer and educator Andrea Keller for a duo set that will undoubtedly delight. And on Sunday (3pm WPAC Theatre) one of our finest large ensembles, Ten Part Invention, will present some classic compositions from founding member Roger Frampton as well as new works by current band members. What a host of talent: Miroslav Bukovsky trumpet/musical director, Sandy Evans saxophones/musical director, Andrew Robson saxophones, Paul Cutlan saxophones, John Mackey saxophones, Warwick Alder trumpet, James Greening trombone, Paul McNamara piano, Steve Elphick bass, Dave Goodman drums.

Another concert not to let slip past unnoticed features Quattro Club (11am Saturday, WPAC Theatre) a new quartet consisting of Niko Schauble drums, Mirko Guerrini woodwinds, Joel Hands-Otte woodwinds and Dan Gordon tuba. Expect compositions as starting points, gently morphing group explorations and superb solos.

And for lovers of soul, vocalist Tina Harrod (1pm Sunday, WPAC Theatre) is sure to wow audiences with songs from her latest album City of Longing, performed with Stu Hunter on piano, Dave Symes bass, Matt Keegan saxophone, Evan Mannell drums, James Greening trombone, Cameron Deyell guitar, Ray Cassar trumpet, and on vocals Virna Sanzone, Evelyn Duprai and Lisa Spence.

For those who like their musicians to be daring or dangerous, trumpeter Reuben Lewis will lead Melbourne psychedelic jazz collective I Hold the Lion’s Paw in an outing (2pm Sunday, St Pat’s Hall) offering a trance-inducing concoction of electro-acoustic noise and slowly evolving soundtracks. Collective members on this occasion are Jordan Murray trombone, Cheryl Durongpisitkul alto sax and flute, Adam Halliwell guitar, David Brown electric bass, Maria Moles drums and Tom Lee double bass.

No festival should be without some fun, and Wang promises to deliver that via two concerts. Canada’s The Shuffle Demons (10pm Saturday, WPAC Hall) wear spectacular hand-painted suits and love to parade through the audience as they play a mix of funk jazz, hard bop jazz and jazz rap. On sax and vocals are Richard Underhill, Matt Lagan and Shawn Nykwist, while Michael Herring contributes bass and vocals and Stich Wynston drums and vocals. That’s a lot of vocals. Expect wild romps into the crowd, free jazz, danceable funk, poetry and killer solos.

A Great Rack and an Empty Reverb (6pm Sunday, St Pat’s Hall) is apparently a cross between jazz and stand up comedy, with Maria Moles (drums/percussion), Adam Halliwell (guitar/synth) and Emily Bennett (vocals/effects rack) offering what we might encounter at a New York comedy club in a weird parallel universe.

And no festival these days can be without a band that can appeal to a younger audience. After all, the occasional longstanding jazz follower at Wang may be a little long in the tooth. (Who said that?) So, the big attraction this year in that space, gathering the right metrics, will be the US outfit FORQ (9.15pm Saturday, St Pat’s Hall and 10pm Sunday, WPAC Theatre). FORQ was founded by keyboardist Henry Hey (David Bowie, Empire of the Sun, Jeff “Tain” Watts) and bassist Michael League (Grammy-winning leader of Snarky Puppy). Now Kevin Scott on bass joins Hey, Chris McQueen (Snarky Puppy, Bokanté) on guitar and Jason “JT” Thomas (Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Marcus Miller, D’Angelo) on drums. The band’s third album Thrēq (pronounced “threek”) was released late in 2017.

Drums are the featured instrument in the National Jazz Awards, the 10 finalists being Alex Hirlian, 24 (Sydney, NSW), Alex Reid, 25 (Perth, WA), Alexander Inman-Hislop, 25 (Petersham, NSW), Alf Jackson, 27 (Hobart, Tas), Angus Mason, 25 (Glengowie, SA), Damien Ellis, 32 (Thornbury, Vic), James McLean, 28 (Preston, Vic), Josh Baldwin, 33 (Adelaide, SA), Lewis Pierre-Humbert, 27 (Tecoma, Vic), and Oli Nelson, 25 (Redfern, NSW). The hard-working support band comprises Stu Hunter piano, Brendan Clarke bass and Paul Cutlan saxophones. The judges are David Jones, Hamish Stuart, Dave Goodman.

After all that listening to other drummers, Jones will join Evri Evripidou on six-string bass (9pm Sunday, WPAC Hall) as Third Ear to create sonicscapes “born without pre-conception”.

There are other Wang concerts not mentioned in this guide, but that does not mean they won’t entrance, enthral and appeal.

St Pat’s Hall will be set out differently this year, offering a club-like atmosphere. And that will be setting for the closing concert of the festival, The Orszaczky Budget Orchestra, which celebrates the energy, passion, and dazzlingly inventive arrangements of Hungarian-born bandleader, composer and visionary Jackie Orszaczky, who died of Lymphoma in 2008. Fronted by Tina Harrod and vocalist Darren Percival, the ensemble will feature many players who performed regularly with Jackie over the years. With Dave Symes bass, Hamish Stuart drums, Stu Hunter keys, Clayton Doley keys, Arne Hanna guitar, Matt Keegan saxophone, James Greening trombone and Virna Sanzone backing vocals, this should wrap up Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues in style.

ROGER MITCHELL

STANDING ROOM ONLY

Nubya Garcia Image: Adama Jalloh

Nubya Garcia                                   Image: Adama Jalloh

PREVIEW

Melbourne International Jazz Festival, 1-10 June, 2018

The 21st MIJF, which over 10 days in almost 100 events will feature almost 400 Australian, international and emerging artists, is only a day away.

Already many concerts — An Evening with Branford Marsalis and Sun Ra Arkestra at Melbourne Recital Centre, and the 7pm outing by Nubya Garcia at The Jazzlab — are sold out. A second outing for the Arkestra at The Night Cat has been added on 7 June.

Tickets for others concerts — Maceo Parker’s tribute to Ray Charles, Christian McBride’s New Jawn and Harry James Angus’s new project, Struggle With Glory — are selling fast.

Not such good news is that six club sessions scheduled for the Southside Jazz Room have been cancelled because construction work at the venue will not be completed in time. So patrons will miss the opportunity to hear Bopstretch, Fem Belling Quartet, Sam Keevers Trio featuring Michelle Nicole, Bob Sedergreen and Friends, Paul Williamson Quartet and Jamie Oehlers Quartet plays the music of John Coltrane. That’s a great pity.

As mentioned in an earlier post, there will be 25 venues across the city, from Hamer Hall to small clubs, as well as cafes in Melbourne’s west.

Clearly the festival programming has tackled the difficult task of broadening the appeal of the music on offer with a view to attracting younger fans. I say this is difficult because many potential patrons who may well love the styles of music on offer can be turned off by the festival’s “jazz” tag.

One way that MIJF Artistic Director, Michael Tortoni, and his programmers have tackled this is to utilise venues such as 170 Russell, known to many as Billboard, which offers standing-room-only space that could not be seen as fitting an image — albeit often wildly inaccurate — of staid music.

First up at 170 Russell the festival will present Knower on Tuesday 5 June. This Los Angeles group features Genevieve Artadi vocals, Louis Cole drums/vox, Thirsty Merc’s Rai Thistlewayte keys, Jacob Mann keys and Sam Wilkes bass. They promise “hard-hitting funk, cool chords, deep melodies and vocals creating an imaginative and out-of-this-world experience”.

Yemen

Yemeni Israeli Ravid Khalani                        Image supplied

Next, 170 Russell will host Yemen Blues on 6 June, featuring Yemenite Israeli Ravid Khalani on voice and gimbri, Brian Marsella (US) on keys, Shanir Blumenkranz (US) on bass and oud, Dan Mayo (Israel) on drums and Edo Gur (US) on trumpet. Drawing on Middle Eastern traditions, Yemen Blues offers hypnotic percussion beats and multi-layered sounds.

Chris Dave

Chris Dave with The Drumhedz in 2014.              Image: Roger Mitchell

And on Friday 8 June, 170 Russell will host Chris Dave and The Drumhedz. Back in 2014 at MIJF Chris Dave on augmented drum kit was an unexpected, but clear highlight for me at Bennetts Lane with Isaiah Sharkey on guitar, Nick McNack on bass and Marcus Strickland on tenor and soprano sax. Their set held my interest from the word go and a lot of the appeal came from the watchfulness and interaction in this band. Dave’s line-up this time will be revealed on the night.

Continuing MIJF artistic director Michael Tortoni’s effort to “showcase some of the future directions of this vital and ever-evolving art form” in a much smaller yet much more inviting venue, The Jazzlab hosts UK saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia, described by Rolling Stone as “one jazz musician poised to break out in 2018”. Garcia cites musical influences from American jazz, blues, soul and roots to contemporary pop. She celebrates women in contemporary jazz, playing in an all-female septet Nérila. Tickets may still be available for her second concert at 9.30pm on Thursday 7 June.

Terri Lyne Carrington

Terri Lyne Carrington                         Image supplied

Also aiming to attract patrons from outside straight-ahead jazz, in four concerts at The Jazzlab (Saturday 2 June, Sunday 3 June) US percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington will address issues of freedom, racism, sexism, fluidity, and multiculturalism in her social consciousness project Social Science. The line-up will be Kassa Overall MC/turntable, Debo Ray vocals, Matthew Stevens guitar and Aaron Parks piano. Expect lush compositions, influenced by jazz, indie rock, contemporary classical and R&B.

Harry James Angus

Harry James Angus             Image supplied

The Jazzlab is also bound to attract new faces among patrons keen to hear The Cat Empire’s trumpet-playing vocalist Harry James Angus who, in Struggle With Glory, will endeavour to transport classic Greco-Roman myths into a surreal world of old-time jazz and gospel music. Angus will be joined by Ben Gillespie trombone, Monique Di Mattina piano, Freyja Hooper drums, Tamara Murphy bass and Lachlan Mitchell guitar, along with a gospel choir. There are still tickets available for the 9.30pm concert on Tuesday 5 June.

And fans of Spiderbait will be drawn to Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday 9 June to hear Kram on drums join pianist/composer Paul Grabowsky AO and multi-instrumentalist James Morrison reprise their audience-wowing outing as The Others at the 2017 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues. Expect fireworks and much joy from the participants.

A further bid to broaden interest will be Jazz Massive, a participatory mass-music-making event on Sunday 3 June at 11am, situated on the lawns of State Library Victoria. Musicians of all calibres are invited to bring along their instruments and join a massive jam session. But beforehand those wanting to be involved can follow helpful videos by Tamil Rogeon.

For the much younger music fans, and their significant adults, Lah-Lah’s Big Jazz Adventure at Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday 2 June will feature singer Lah-Lah and her friends Mister Saxophone, Squeezy Squeezy on accordion, Tom Tom on drums, Buzz the Bandleader and Lola the Dancing Double Bass, as seen on ABC Kids. Children under 2 are free.

Tony Malaby

Tony Malaby                               Image supplied

For the hard core of fans familiar with jazz, the concerts with most appeal this year will include the retrospective Novela (Wednesday 6 June, The Jazzlab) featuring US saxophonist Tony Malaby with Canadian pianist/arranger Kris Davis and the Monash Art Ensemble under the direction of Paul Grabowsky. I’m looking forward to that, along with the outing on Monday 4 June at The Jazzlab bringing Malaby together with Davis and the extraordinary Sydney drummer Simon Barker for “fearless improvisation”. Bring it on.

And on the opening night of the festival, a highlight is sure to be The Gravity Project (The Jazzlab) in which Grabowsky on piano and Rob Burke on saxophone join shakuhachi master Masaki Nakamura, koto virtuoso Kuniko Obina and Tokyo-based Aaron Choulai on laptop and electronics in a world premiere cross-cultural exchange with Tokyo Jazz Festival. The ensemble also features Niran Dasika on trumpet, Marty Holoubek on bass and James McLean on drums.

Kim-Myhr

Kim-Myhr                                         Image: Orfee-Schuijt

The adventurous are sure to seek out two concerts at The Substation in Newport (Friday 8 June, Saturday 9 June) featuring Norwegian master of the 12-string guitar, Kim Myhr, whose long form drones, slow melodic arcs and moments of psychedelic intensity draw on rock music, minimalism and jazz.

The first outing, Three Solos, will feature Myhr on guitar, well known member of The Necks, Tony Buck on drums and guitar and Australian Art Orchestra Artistic Director Peter Knight in the premiere of a new work for processed trumpet. The following night Myhr joins the AAO in a performance of a world premiere of a work created for the 10-piece orchestra, featuring two violinists, two drummers, bass, hammered dulcimer, electronics, bass clarinet, Revox reel-to-reel tape machine. Buck and Knight will be on stage along with bass clarinet virtuoso Aviva Endean and incendiary violinist Erkki Veltheim.

Experimentation will continue back at The Jazzlab when pianist/composer Brenton Foster presents Love, As We Know It, his PBS Young Elder of Jazz commission in collaboration with with US poet Christopher Pointdexter. Foster (vocals, piano) will be joined by Gideon Brazil (sax, flute, clarinet), Stephen Magnusson (guitar), Tamara Murphy (bass) and Aaron McCullough (drums).

And audiences will be familiar with US bassist Christian McBride, who returns in four concerts over two nights (Saturday 9 June, Sunday 10 June) at The Jazzlab. His fresh quartet, New Jawn, comprises Marcus Strickland saxophone, Josh Evans trumpet and Nasheet Waits drums. Saxophonist Francesco Cafiso (Italy) will perform two concerts at The Jazzlab on Friday 8 June.

Concerts at the 40-seat Lido Jazz Room, which is curated by Uptown Jazz Café’s Sonny Rehe, could be regarded as this festival’s homage to the importance of women musicians in the Melbourne scene. Over four nights, each with two concerts, the artists comprise Margie Lou Dyer Quintet and Natasha Weatherill Quartet (Friday 1 June), Emma Gilmartin Quartet (Saturday 2 June), Jackie Bornstein Quartet and Julie O’Hara La Grande Soiree (Friday 8 June), and Andrea Keller Trio along with Connie Lansberg  featuring Mark Fitzgibbon Trio (Saturday 9 June).

In Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday 2 June fans of jazz vocalists can enjoy Gretchen Parlato (US) with Marcel Camargo on guitar, Artyom Manukian on cello and Leo Costa on percussion. Expect undertones of African and Brazilian beats. The superb Sam Anning Sextet will open.

And on the final night, Hamer Hall will host French-American singer Madeleine Peyroux interpreting jazz standards, with an opening set that’s sure to entrance by the Angela Davis Quartet.

Barney McAll

Barney McAll                                 Image supplied

Melbourne-based Barney McAll will premiere two works: Trilogy of Cycles at Birrarung Marr’s Federation Bells and Sweet Sweet Spirit featuring music by the great gospel composer Doris Akers at Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre. Both of these are sure to be outstanding.

Jazz Out West returns with local DJ, radio broadcaster and music personality Mz Rizk as guest programmer, focusing on experiences not usually found in a jazz festival, including a cross-genre tribute to high priestess of soul, Nina Simone, and emerging crossover artists Thando, Cool Out Sun, KillaHertz and Kalala & The Round Midnights. All concerts are free.

Free events will also include the return of Sound Walks throughout the city, lunchtime concerts at St James and the long-running artist workshops and Close Encounters series, which has expanded to include career development workshops led by industry experts and practitioners including Chelsea Wilson (Brunswick Music Festival), Fem Belling (The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra), and Marcus Strickland (Christian McBride’s New Jawn / Twi-life).

Family-friendly festival events include the Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir at Southern Cross Lane.

There’s plenty more music on offer, so check out the full program details  at the MIJF website.

ROGER MITCHELL