Tag Archives: The Jazzlab

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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SUSTENANCE FOR THE SOUL

The Gravity Project

The Gravity Project                      Image: Roger Mitchell

REVIEW

Melbourne International Jazz Festival, 1 – 10 June 2018

Paul Grabowsky AO wrote Tokyo Overpass with Haruki Murakami’s novel IQ84 as inspiration — the story of a young woman who climbs down a ladder from an elevated highway when her taxi is stuck in a traffic jam and enters a parallel universe.

That could be a metaphor for this festival’s engrossing opening concert, The Gravity Project, a cross-cultural exchange with the Tokyo Jazz Festival featuring Japan’s Kuniko Obina on koto, Masaki Nakamura on shakuhachi and Tokyo resident Aaron Choulai on laptop/electronics.

In three pieces — Beat Hayashi, Tokyo Overpass and Plum Rain (the latter allegedly conjuring Burt Bacharach as a manga character) — this octet with Grabowsky (piano), Rob Burke (reeds), Niran Dasika (trumpet), Marty Holoubek (bass) and James McLean (drums) took us to a very different and exciting place that commanded attention and demanded immediate designation as a festival highlight.

This was riveting, abstract and at times surreal music, bristling with sometimes piercing shakuhachi notes, electronic squeaks, bent-note “gulps”, stuttering voices (a la Max Headroom), disruptive horns and koto notes tangible enough to touch. Yet amid the complexity, drama and tension there were periods of exquisitely beautiful simplicity. What a magnificent way to begin 10 days of music. This was indeed a highlight.

Also compelling were the pieces played when reedsman Tony Malaby (US) joined Kris Davis (Canada) on piano and Simon Barker (Australia) for a take-no-prisoners outing on Monday 4 June at The Jazzlab. There were tunes — Alechinsky, Kei’s Dream, Warblepeck, Bird Call and Remolino — but, as Malaby said in a 2015 interview, “I’m not writing tunes, but providing an opening sentence or paragraph.” All three musicians needed no more.

This was not a concert for the faint-hearted. But the audience probably knew what to expect, which was the unexpected — music challenging in its abstractness and complexity.

I was reminded of my experience when reading that magnificent novel Lincoln in the Bardo: difficult to get into at first and then totally consuming once I had entered that world. All made sense once my frame of reference shifted.

Some in the audience no doubt heard in Malaby’s work elements of Lovano, Coltrane, Ayler or Shepp. Instead, I valued many facets of this outing: patterns, contrasts, mayhem, beauty, responsiveness, intensity, variations in dynamics, sharp edges, peaceful interludes, sprinklings of notes (Davis), lashings of sound, guttural growlings, rumbling cascades, shifts in rhythm and tempo, disrupting abruptness of drums, airy resonance of reeds, gradual serenity, release and relief.

On 6 June at the same venue Malaby and Davis joined Scott Tinkler (Tasmania) and the Monash Art Ensemble to play Davis’s arrangements of music from Malaby’s Novela project. As the nonet played Floating Head, Mother’s Love, Warblepeck, Floral and Herbaceous, and Remolino, I marvelled at the exquisite intricacy, textural richness and encapsulated imagery in this wonderful music, delivered so well by students and their mentors. Again I was feeling the notes in 3D, tangible enough to touch. Tinkler, muted and otherwise, was superb, as were Rob Burke on bass clarinet, Josh Bennier on trombone, Jared Becker on baritone, and — so often — Dan Gordon on tuba. (It would be great to see women students in the Monash Art Ensemble, but I understand that the gender imbalance has deeper roots than university level.)

Quite a few festival gigs were sold out. Two concerts on 7 June brought the London club scene to The Jazzlab in a warmly energetic and engaging outing by tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia and her killer band — Joe Armon-Jones on piano, Daniel Casimir on double bass and Femi Koleoso on drums. There were solos —including Garcia’s in the closing piece that took her tenor, which was never harsh or abrasive, into deep, resonant territory — but this was very much a team effort, attentiveness and responsiveness built in. The rhythm section was a treat to hear on its own and Koleoso’s intensity never let up. This group made me want to check out the London scene, soon.

Another set of concerts that were sold out were four at The Jazzlab on 9 & 10 June featuring frequent visitor to Australia, bassist Christian McBride, with his piano-less band New JawnMarcus Strickland on bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxes, Josh Evans on trumpet and Nasheet Waits on drums.

McBride was characteristically engaging at the mic between songs, but as the band worked through Walkin’ Funny (McBride), Sightseeing (Shorter), Kush (Waits), Seek the Source (Strickland), the tribute to a departed friend John Day (McBride) and a jaunty version of The Good Life (Ornette Coleman) I felt that these accomplished players could really have done it all in their sleep and possibly needed some.

Waits’ work stood out throughout and especially behind the impressive Evans’s solos, and John Day featured McBride in a great duo with Strickland on bass clarinet. But there wasn’t quite the intensity and drive, or the fire, that I’d hoped for from this line-up on the night. Others will probably disagree — I doubt that many patrons left dissatisfied.

About now a warm glow suffuses across this review as I recall two similarly packed 9.30pm concerts at The Jazzlab —on Sunday 3 June, featuring Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science, and, on Tuesday 5 June, Harry James Angus’s Struggle With Glory.

The lighting was the only possible complaint about the Social Science outing, Debo Ray passionately delivering emotive vocals in the near darkness while interacting with the rapid yet smooth moves of white-clad Kassa Overall, who was in full glare of a spotlight for his cryptic rap. Carrington at the drum kit was the linchpin of this sextet, which also featured Aaron Parks on keys, Morgan Guerin on sax and Matthew Stevens on guitar, but she sought none of the limelight as they gently, but potently explored racism, discrimination, police killings and the need “to pray the hate away”.

Outside afterwards a couple of shockingly racist would-be patrons brought to the fore our similar problems in this country, but I left the gig with the feeling that I’d attended a left-wing, justice-fired prayer meeting and been cleansed by the power of good vibes. This was gentle persuasion by music rather than words, but it was a reassuring and awakening in equal measure.

A more fervent vibe infused Struggle With Glory, in which Harry James Angus (Cat Empire) on trumpet and vocals managed the unlikely marriage of Greco-Roman myths with old-time jazz and gospel vibes. It worked, partly because he took the time to engagingly explain the stories and partly because his band delivered with feeling.

In eight pieces from the album released in March, this band — Ben Gillespie on trombone, Monique Di Mattina on piano, Freyja Hooper on drums, Tamara Murphy on bass and Lachlan Mitchell on guitar — wowed the audience with their musicianship and vocal harmonies. And HJA’s excellent whistling. Again this was a feel-good gig that will hopefully encourage more people to come out for live music.

Two other MIJF concerts filled with energy, exemplary musicianship and toe-tapping beats featured Daniel Susnjar’s new Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group (The Jazzlab, 9.30pm Monday 4 June) and Steve Sedergreen’s Points in Time (The Jazzlab, 9.30pm Wednesday 6 June). For me, these concerts came immediately after the two Tony Malaby gigs mentioned, so it wasn’t easy to adjust, but in each case audience approval was clear.

It’s part of a festival’s job to entertain, but also to challenge. One of the experimental concerts this year, as is always the case, came with the PBS Young Elder of Jazz commission concert on at 9.30pm on Friday 1 June at The Jazzlab by pianist Brenton Foster, entitled Love, As We Know It.

Foster — in a quartet with Gideon Brazil (flute, clarinet, saxophone), Stephen Magnusson (guitar), Jordan Tarento (bass) and Aaron McCullough (drums) — composed music to accompany sung adaptations of poems by Christopher Pointdexter (known for delivering his words via typewriter on Instagram). This was difficult music played very well indeed, but it was a tough task to communicate the compressed ideas in the poetry in a way that would permit an audience to grasp their full import. Yet Foster’s compositions had unexpected strength and drama obviously meant to pick up on the torments and dramas of lives and loves.

I believe this concert would have benefited greatly from a visual display of the poet’s text in some way while the words were sung and accompanying music played.

An even greater challenge came on Friday 8 June at The Substation in Three Solos performed sequentially by Tony Buck (The Necks), Peter Knight (Australian Art Orchestra artistic director) and experimental Norwegian guitarist Kim Myhr. After many evenings of performances by musicians under lights handing us their music on a platter, so to speak, it was hard to be left in the dark, literally, amid the amplified crackles, tiny tinklings, abrasive static, plinks and plonks created by the black “bee-suited” figure with wind-chime hat who sat facing away from the audience. Buck must have intended us to listen attentively rather than watch to see how he created these sounds — something most of us were not attuned to doing.

Minutiae also was surely the intent of Knight’s delicate explorations of sound generated with water in his trumpet and the recording and amplification — with the help of a Revox B77 reel-to-reel tape machine and other devices — of grains of rice falling. When the audience later turned full circle to hear Myhr on 12-string guitar, his instrument hidden behind a table of electronic equipment, the subtlety of variations as he strummed and adjusted settings may well have escaped all but the most diligent listeners.

These three solos were challenging not merely because they took us out of our comfort zones, but because of the risk that we would find too little in each to provoke a response, whether love or hate. That said, a lot of work goes into these performances and the artistic endeavour deserves to be acknowledged — perhaps in this case more as art than music.

On the following evening, the Australian Art Orchestra performed the world premiere of an orchestral work by Myhr. The ensemble comprised Myhr (guitar), Knight (trumpet, electronics, hammered dulcimer), Buck (drums, percussion), Aviva Endean (bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, zither), Lizzy Welsh (violin), Erkki Veltheim (viola), Jacques Emery (contra bass, zither), Joe Talia (Revox B77 reel-to-reel tape machine, electronics) and Jem Savage (live sound, associate producer).

This was truly a work for ensemble as collective. Over three parts of 16, 21 and 17 minutes respectively, all contributed to creating a multi-layered and highly finessed whole that enveloped and drifted above us in the large space.

The first part employed the strings in a slow, regular configuration that evolved into wave formations conjuring, for me, phosphorescent ocean swells in moonlight. The second had more structure, movement and change, building intensity in its complexity. The third part contrasted fast, light and intricate work at the drum kit with waves of vibrato shimmer while moving gradually to a long denouement. This was carefully crafted and intricately executed music that caressed rather than challenged.

I did not get to many of the festival concerts, including those at larger venues. But the 12 gigs I did attend were enough to demonstrate there are many ways to present and appreciate this music we loosely call jazz. But the excitement of live music is deeply sustaining.

I attended two of the jam sessions hosted by The Rookies and had a great time at each, bailing out only after 2am. These gatherings of musicians and fans also provide much enjoyment and lasting sustenance for the soul.

ROGER MITCHELL

Note: Images will be added to this post in due course.

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