Tag Archives: Snarky Puppy



Melbourne International Jazz Festival, June 3 – 12, 2016

Tomasz Stanko

Tomasz Stanko

SOME of the main drawcards at this year’s festival are well-known knowns — Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Gary Bartz — but it’s a big program with plenty of other artists to be excited about.

Stats don’t put flesh on the bones, but over 10 days the festival will stage 74 events involving 335 artists (75 international and 260 Australian), 22 free events and heaps of club sessions at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Uptown Jazz Cafe and Dizzy’s Jazz Club. The larger venues will include Hamer Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Forum, Malthouse and The Channel at Arts Centre Melbourne.

On the final three days Riverside Bar at Southbank will host Hamer Jazz Bar each evening from 6pm as a rendezvous for festival patrons.

As usual, the main program is divided into Modern Masters, Explorations in Jazz and the three sets of Club Sessions, plus five Jazz Out West events, seven Close Encounters and two Artist Workshops at Monash University.

Gary Bartz

Gary Bartz

All good festivals come with a clash or two not emanating from a drum kit and MIJF 2016 opens with a big one. Our own flamboyant pianist and composer Barney McAll has had a hand in bringing jazz great Gary Bartz from the US to play Melbourne Recital Centre on opening night, with Andrea Keller’s Transients I as support.

This clashes head-on with PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission winner Joe O’Connor on piano in a quartet at Bennetts Lane to perform Confrontations. In six dialogues, O’Connor’s work will balance “tonal and non-tonal harmony, regular and irregular rhythm, delicate lyricism and impressive density”. That sounds pretty damn interesting. These two gigs present a tough choice.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

There’s no need to say a lot about Esperanza Spalding, who will play the Forum at 9.30pm on opening night, because she will draw crowds. Marcus J. Moore on Pitchfork described her album Emily’s D+Evolution thus: “Using a dissonant guitar riff, thumping drums, and lurching time signature, it almost feels like a dare to stick around. The album has the feel of a nervy gauntlet throw, seething with the sort of ferocity that only comes from time spent alone, far away from the limelight. These are exuberant, confrontational songs, amplified in the same sort of rock/funk hybrid style that brings Prince and Janelle Monae to mind. Gone is the Afro, replaced with long braids, wide-rimmed glasses, and ornate outfits.”

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter also needs no promotion. He plays Hamer Hall on the festival’s closing night with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums. Enough said, although I’m hoping for some longer bursts of saxophone magic from the great player than we heard at the Palais when he was last here.

Perez, Patitucci and Blade will play two gigs at Bennetts on Friday, June 10 as Children of the Light Trio. Surely this must be one not to miss.

While on the subject of bass players, Hawthorn luthier Benedict Puglisi is making acoustic bass instruments specifically for Spalding and Patitucci to play while they are here. That suggests his work is pretty special.

The international artists include some who were popular on previous visits to the festival. Genre-crossing Robert Glasper Trio (US), who performed in 2012, will return in an acoustic trio format with new album, Covered, on June 4 at MRC with Ross McHenry Trio supporting.

Mulatu Astatke

Mulatu Astatke (Image: Nick Pitsas)

And the “father of Ethio jazz” Mulatu Astatke (Ethiopia), who played the festival in 2010, will join the local band Black Jesus Experience at the Malthouse on Wednesday, June 8 to give the world premiere of The Cradle of Humanity.



Also returning is the pianist from Japan who sold out three shows in 2012, Hiromi. She who joins Simon Phillips on drums and Anthony Jackson on contra bass guitar at Hamer Hall on Thursday, June 9.

Tomasz Stanko

Tomasz Stanko (Image: Caroline Forbes)

And I don’t care what clashes with Polish trumpet maestro Tomasz Stańko‘s band featuring Alexi Tuomarila on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Olavi Louhivuori on drums. I’ll be at one of their two Malthouse concerts on Thursday, June 9 at 6.30pm and 9pm.

Also at the Malthouse and not to be missed on Saturday, June 11, will be Stańko and Paul Grabowsky leading the Monash Art Ensemble at 6.30pm to explore the music of Krysztof Komeda, who scored Rosemary’s Baby and Knife in the Water. Not to be missed.

Latin jazz titan, pianist Eddie Palmieri (US) will spend five days with Monash University student musicians before their Jazz Futures performance at the MRC Salon on Thursday, June 9 at 6pm. Palmieri’s Latin Jazz Septet will set feet tapping at Hamer Hall on Friday, June 10 at 7.30pm.

Singer José James will pay tribute to the music of Billie Holiday in Yesterday I Had the Blues at Hamer Hall on Saturday, June 11 at 7.30pm.

And to complete the Modern Masters concerts, Vince Jones and Matt McMahon will join the Astral Orchestra to bring us Van Morrison’s Masterpieces at 7.30pm on Friday, June 10 at MRC.

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy (Image: Philippe Levy Stab)

As part of the Explorations in Jazz series, guitarist Lionel Loueke (US) will join Sydney group The Vampires for two Bennetts Lane gigs on Saturday, June 4. And crowd-pleasers Snarky Puppy (US), who wowed crowds here in 2013, will be in the Forum at 9.30pm on Thursday, June 9.

The Coopers Malthouse has great beers on tap (I’m not paid to say that) and it may suit many to spend Friday, June 10 there to hear Stu Hunter‘s suite The Migration (a fantastic line-up) at 6.30pm and then Kristin Berardi Band (also a top line-up) at 9pm. You could not possibly go wrong with these two performances by Australian bands.

The Malthouse also hosts Peter Knight’s Way Out West on Saturday, June 11 at 9pm, featuring koto virtuoso Satsuki Odamura and Ray Pereira on fun and fiery African-influenced percussion. This gig will showcase new material and is sure to be a knockout.

And anyone who can remember the Chris Dave and the Drumhedz festival gig in 2014 should recall multi-reedist Marcus Strickland. Twi-Life is set to deliver soul, jazz-funk and R&B in two shows at Bennetts Lane on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, at 7.30pm and 10pm (they must be expecting a crowd — that’s four concerts).

If all that music’s not enough, there are club sessions. Can’t mention them all, but here are a few likely highlights.

Guitarist Paolo Angeli (Italy) will join local musicians at Bennetts Lane to bring us jazz influenced by Sardinian folk songs (June 3). He will also play solo guitar at Bluestone Church Arts Space in Hyde Street, Footscray at 4pm on Sunday, June 5. Westies must come out to this and other MIJF gigs at Dancing Dog Cafe (Wallace), Reverence Hotel (30/70 Collective) and Footscray Community Arts Centre (Jazz-a-Bye Baby).

Get close up and personal with Robert Glasper Trio at Bennetts on June 5. Hear a tribute to our maestro of Mondays and much besides, drummer Allan Browne, on June 6. If you fancy trumpah, as Scott Tinkler would put it, don’t miss Keyon Harrold and Twi-Life musicians in two gigs on June 8. And for fans of drummer Ari Hoenig, there are two gigs on June 9 at Bennetts featuring guitarist Quentin Angus and bassist Sam Anning.

Uptown Jazz Cafe has a ripper line-up of gigs during the festival. Don’t miss Mark Fitgzibbon Trio (June 3), Paul Williamson Quartet playing Monk (June 3), Andrea Keller’s Transients IV (June 4), Stephen Magnusson Trio (June 5), Ithaca Bound suite, music of the Allan Browne Quintet (June 6), Jamie Oehlers/Paul Grabowsky Quartet (June 9) and Sam Keevers’ Red Fish Blue (June 12). These and the other Uptown gigs are delivering seriously good jazz.

Dizzy’s Jazz Club in Richmond also has eight festival gigs, so look these up on the festival website.

Time’s almost up if I’m to post this as the embargo expires. Apologies for any errors. Other events of note include the free opening concert at Fed Square on June 4 at 1.30pm featuring Brazilian and Latin ensembles led by Alistair Kerr and Sam Keevers respectively.

Barney McAll is going to play about with the Federation Bells and anything could happen with that. Keep an ear out at noon on June 4 in Birrarung Marr.

And the Queen Vic market will groove to Los Cabrones on June 8 at 6pm to warm up the Winter Night Markets.

And at noon on Sunday, June 12, at The Channel, 100 St Kilda Rd, Southbank you may find out how many festival artistic directors it takes to change … well … a light globe, a set list, a door gig, a minor key … you name it.


For further details and full program visit the festival website.

Note: Many images posted above are supplied by MIJF.




David Ades

David Ades


Melbourne International Jazz Festival Club Sessions at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club:
10.30pm Monday 3 June 2013 — David Ades & Friends
8pm Tuesday 4 June 2013 — Open Loose
10.30pm Tuesday 4 June 2013 — Snarky Puppy

On 26 August last year, musicians gathered at Uptown Jazz Cafe in a benefit concert for saxophonist David Ades, who was in Germany receiving treatment for cancer. On 3 November, Ades came on stage at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre to drive one of the 2012 Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival‘s highlights. Ades was on fire as he joined Julien Wilson on tenor, Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Danny Fischer on drums to launch his album A Glorious Certainty, which was recorded in Brooklyn in 2011. (See Ausjazz review: Musical conversations say it all.)

The MIJF club session on 3 June gave Ades an opportunity to revisit the album with his friends from Open Loose, with whom he recorded it — Tony Malaby on tenor, Mark Helias on contra bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Ades did not waste the opportunity, leading us through the album songs with amazing energy. After a blistering opening (was it La Ripaille?), highlights included mingling alto and tenor in Melissa (dedicated to artist Melissa Thompson, Ades’s wife until her death in 2005), the resplendently spiky Dreaming In Colour and the minimalist textures of This Land, which again featured some beautiful reed work, with alto and tenor independent yet unified, and a great bass solo. The closing Philstream (for Phil Treloar) produced more entanglements of the saxes, some plaintive vibrato, bird-like cries and a deep drone from Helias’s bow.


Tony Malaby

Tony Malaby

In the smaller room at Bennetts the following night, Open Loose played while David Ades watched. As expected, the music was much different, though not that similar to the Mark Helias material aired at The Forum Upstairs on Sunday 2 June with the Monash Art Ensemble (Ausjazz review: Band on the run). I felt a strong groove from the trio as I burrowed through the throng to catch a glimpse of the players. Just ahead, off-duty drummer Ronny Ferella was moving to the vibe, which was surprisingly gentle, yet totally involving.

Rather than epic complexity and frequent change, this outing was a celebration of texture and timbre, with each instrument given the time and space to drift in and out of our collective consciousness. This was music to luxuriate in, to sink into and move with, to give in to and absorb utterly. Open Loose took us places that were visceral yet not driven into us. By contrast with the Ades gig the previous night, Tony Malaby was much more prominent, exploring the range of the tenor — especially the lower registers. Cleaver also showed a lot more of his capabilities, with some killer solos that were nevertheless far more expressive than mere crash ‘n’ bash. Helias contributed arresting strength and also explored the deepest of depths. I did not want this gig to end.


It did, of course, and I had to decide whether to go next door for the second sell-out Snarky Puppy gig of the night or stay for some hard core straight ahead jazz from Sean Wayland on piano, Brett Hirst on bass, Kneebody’s Nate Wood on drums and James Muller unexpectedly on guitar. From comments later, staying put would have been a pretty good choice, but I had to find out what all the fuss was about. What was Snarky Puppy up to that had sold out The Forum downstairs as well as two unscheduled club gigs?

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy

I’m not sure that I have an adequate answer, but it’s fair to say the larger room (Jazz Lab) was full of young people who probably would have been happier jettisoning the chairs so they could move more readily to the raw funk, soul and jazz of Snarky Puppy. There was a rock feel to this gig, and the smiling faces and energy in the band and crowd guaranteed success from the start. The musicians in this collective (not all came on tour from the US) are talented. The band is practised, knows what it’s about and how to woo a crowd. At one point the audience was enthusiastically participating in two-part harmonies and just bursting to get involved. There was a nice, long interchange between the percussionist, Nate Werth, and drummer, Robert “Sput” Searight.

It was like being at a “jazz” party and surely that’s no bad thing.

I left before vocalist Alison Wedding joined the band, but I’m certain she won the hearts of patrons with ease.


It was late, I was tired, and this music lacked the tension, dissonance and unexpectedness that make much improvised music so engrossing. That said, it was great to see this venue packed with young fans of live music.

The Wayland gig was still going, but the doorway seemed too crowded, so I headed for the train.



Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy                 (Image supplied)

NEWS: Melbourne International Jazz Festival, until Sunday, June 9

Just announced! More Snarky Puppy love can be expressed in two club sessions this Tuesday night, 4 June. The one at 8pm at Bennetts Lane is sold out, but there is now another at 10pm. Tickets are strictly limited.

So the gigs at the Lane that night will be:

In the club (smaller room): Open Loose (8pm) & Wayland/Hirst/Wood (10:30)

In the jazz lab: Snarky Puppy (8pm and 10pm) & The Grid/Jam (late)

Doors open 30mins before showtime.

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club 

For full program details visit the Melbourne International Jazz Festival website.