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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

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FESTIVAL NOT DOMINATED BY MEN!

Xani Kolac

Xani Kolac                   Image supplied

PREVIEW

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.

Roger Mitchell

FIRST, SHE TAKES MELBOURNE

Chris McNulty

Chris McNulty                                              (Image: M. Montgomery)

PREVIEW

Chris McNulty Quartet (Australia/US), The Jazzlab,
Friday 4 August and Saturday 5 August, 8pm

Australian-American jazz vocalist Chris McNulty is giving two back-to-back performances in Melbourne next month before embarking on a world tour.

The award-winning singer/composer will introduce her new trio — Darrin Archer piano, Hiroki Finn Hoshino bass and Aaron McCoullough drums — to Melbourne audiences in two concerts at Melbourne’s newest jazz club, The Jazzlab.

McNulty premiered her singing with the trio to great acclaim earlier this year at the Mansfield Art gallery now run by Miriam Zolin of extempore fame.

Melbourne-born Ms McNulty moved to the United States in 1988 and has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene for almost three decades. She worked with American jazz musicians such as pianists Mulgrew Miller and John Hicks, saxophonists Gary Bartz and Gary Thomas, drummers Billy Hart, Kenny Washington, and Matt Wilson, guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist Ugonna Okegwo . She featured on the Venus label’s recording Big Apple Voices in 1995 that presented six “new exceptional” vocal talents. Her seventh and latest album, Eternal, a chamber ensemble and jazz quintet collaboration reached #11 on the 80th Downbeat readers Poll in America.

McNulty has often performed at international festivals. Her next tour will take her back to Europe, Russia and America. The American magazine Jazz Times has described her vocalising as “fearless” and her composing as “peerless”’. Britain’s Jazz Wise magazine said she possessed “a voice of serene beauty, striking veracity and compelling emotional fervency”.

In 2013 McNulty received the Australian Jazz Bell award for the Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album for her album The Song That Sings You Here. Since moving back to Melbourne she has performed at the Perth Jazz Festival in 2014 and 2016, the Stonnington Jazz Festival in 2014 and 2016 and at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues in 2013 and last year.

She has continued her work as a teacher and is about to launch her groundbreaking book Vocalist As Complete Musician, in which she expounds a method (utilising tetra chords) for singers to expand their knowledge of jazz harmony and provides them with tools for improvising while improving sight reading and composing skills. The book will be launched internationally and available through Amazon, McNulty’s webpage, and digital platforms from August 30.

Information above taken from material provided by Andra Jackson.

Roger Mitchell

Reviews:

“Exquisitely delivered with consummate feeling and jazz sensibility … McNulty’s uniquely emotive vocal interpretation achieves a transcendent quality.”
— 4.5 stars, The Australian, Weekend Review – John McBeath, Oct 2015

“McNulty applies poignant jazz chops to the vocal, while accomplishing the impossible, the expression of her story through song….making listeners rethink the meaning of why we love jazz..”— 5 Stars,  All About Jazz (USA) , July 2015

“Chris McNulty wowed an audience full of rapt jazz lovers at Mansfield Art Gallery who were thrilled by the sounds of world-class jazz delivered by one of the best voices in the business. A well deserved standing ovation finished the night and every heart in the room was filled by the experience.
A highlight for music lovers in Mansfield.”  —   Miriam Zolin, Mansfield Art Gallery, April 2017