A multitude of styles and influences from classic to funk, soul, hip-hop and electronica
Returning for its twenty-first year, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival continues to demonstrate that ‘jazz can happen anywhere’ for ten days with over 100 events that feature nearly 400 Australian, international and emerging artists.
This year jazz will hit all the right notes in 26 venues across the city ranging from the world-class Hamer Hall to intimate clubs, plus vibrant café gigs in Melbourne’s west and free festival community events including Jazz Massive – a huge participatory mass-music making event on the lawns of State Library Victoria.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Michael Tortoni, says that this year’s festival illustrates that jazz is the common ground that brings together a diversity of artists, genres and experiences.
“This year our program focuses on the waves of influence that jazz has – both within itself and also the influence it has on other music genres. We are really excited to showcase some of the future directions of this vital and ever-evolving artform,” said Tortoni.
The 2018 program features an impressive range of international artists, including funk legend Maceo Parker (USA) paying tribute to Ray Charles, jazz-blues chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux (USA), the (inter)stellar Sun Ra Arkestra (USA) and the irrepressibly energetic Yemen Blues (USA); plus modern masters such as Branford Marsalis (USA), Gretchen Parlato (USA), Christian McBride (USA) and Terri Lyne Carrington (USA); alongside future masters such as Nubya Garcia (UK) and Francesco Cafiso (Italy).
Many outstanding Australian artists are also showcased in the festival program, including The Others – a new collaboration between Paul Grabowsky AO, James Morrison and Kram; Harry James Angus’ new project, Struggle With Glory; and Brenton Foster as the recipient of the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission.
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.
The festival’s international exchange program with the Tokyo and Singapore jazz festivals is supporting the development and world premiere of The Gravity Project, which brings together contemporary Japanese and Australian improvisers Paul Grabowsky AO, Masaki Nakamura, Kuniko Obina and Aaron Choulai and the Chok Kerong Trio from Singapore.
Jazz Out West returns with local DJ, radio broadcaster and music personality Mz Rizk as Guest Programmer, focussing on a range of 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.
The festival offers a substantial free events program, which includes Sound Walks throughout the city, free 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), Marcus Strickland (Christian McBride’s New Jawn / Twi-life) and many others.
Family-friendly festival events include Lah-Lah’s Big Jazz Adventure and the Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir at Southern Cross Lane.
Embedded in one of the world’s greatest music cities, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival allows audiences to experience some of the best jazz artists and to be immersed in a stunning program which offers something for everyone.
The 2018 Melbourne International Jazz Festival returns for its 21st year, demonstrating that jazz can happen anywhere, from the lawns of State Library Victoria to the city’s iconic clubs and venues.This 10-day celebration of jazz in all its forms will offer 100 events featuring more than 400 Australian, international and emerging artists, taking place in 26 venues across Melbourne ranging from the world-class Hamer Hall to intimate jazz clubs, plus vibrant café gigs in Melbourne’s west and free festival community events. Illustrating the ongoing importance of jazz as the common ground which brings together a multitude of styles and influences, the 2018 program offers a diversity of experiences and showcases many outstanding Australian artists, with new projects from leading local artists. Experience the world’s best jazz artists right here in Melbourne and immerse yourself in a stunning program which offers something for everyone.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Artistic Director
For almost a decade Michael Tortoni has been Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, delivering rich programs in diverse, entertaining and educating live jazz performances. As the founder of Lonely Planet’s “world’s best jazz club” – Bennetts Lane Jazz Club – and most recently, The Jazzlab, he has transposed his knowledge, network and experience from making the award-winning club to producing one of the most highly respected and sought after jazz performance festivals in the world. From humble rock-star beginnings with his teenage band Taste (signed with Warner) and graduating from classical music at the Victorian College of Arts to becoming a stalwart of the Australian jazz scene, Michael’s dedicated patronage to the development of jazz as an art form in Melbourne has benefited musicians and audiences from all over the world. Local talent has never been so large, accomplished or respected as it is today, and a direct line between Michael’s work and the growing global interest in Australian jazz can be easily drawn, just as easily as it is that Melbourne can now be called one of the world’s great jazz destinations.