The programme of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival has finally been announced! Sit back, keep reading and get ready: it’s going to be a HOT Melbourne jazz fest!
Since the first edition in 1998, the annual world-class jazz festival has been Australia’s premier jazz happening. The event takes place in concert halls, art venues, jazz clubs and throughout the streets of Melbourne as the city comes alive with the spirit of jazz. This year, Melbourne International Jazz Festival will be from 30 May to 8 June.
The programme includes the Modern Masters, some of the world’s best contemporary jazz artists. Performers like multi-instrumentalist and post-bop tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who was awarded the 2013 Miles Davis Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and will perform in Melbourne on the festival opening night.
Or saxophonist, composer and winner of the 1991 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition Joshua Redman. Considered the new giant of tenor saxophone and one of the most charismatic jazz artists of his generation, Redman will perform on 6 June along with his long-standing all-star quartet that features pianist Aaron Goldberg – described by Wynton Marsalis as “a modern improviser of great clarity, finesse, and dexterity” – the exuberantly fluent bassist Reuben Rogers (who will also perform with Charles Lloyd), and Gregory Hutchinson, “the drummer of his generation” (Jazz Magazine).
When talking about Modern Masters, you know that the name Larry Carlton is about to come up. A four-time Grammy Award winner and on of the most influential contemporary guitarists (he has appeared on over a thousand recordings!), Carlton has been enjoying a successful career both as solo performer and with collaborations with iconic supergroups The Crusaders, Fourplay and Stanley Clark and Friends. On 4 June, Melbourne International Jazz Festival welcomes Carlton’s unmistakable sound that blends blues and jazz with crossover pop rock.
Jorge Pardo is one of Spain’s most innovative instrumentalist and consider one of the most prolific musicians of Iberian jazz. On 31 May, he will bring his seductive mix of jazz and flamenco to Australia for the very first time. Mary Stallings, on the other hand, is a name that jazz fans in Melbourne are probably familiar with. Hailed “the best jazz singer alive” by the New York Times, Stallings debuted professionally before the age of 10 in a family gospel group and went on to record with stars like Dizzy Gillespie and Ben Webster in the 1950s and 1960s. After a hiatus, she came back to prominence in the early 1980s. Her supple sense of swing, blues-inflected phrasing and unique talent for interpretation earned the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 San Francisco Jazz Festival Gala and excellent reviews (JazzTimes praised her as “the consummate jazz singer”). Her performance in Melbourne is schedule for 5 June.
On opening night, be ready to be transported back to the golden era of swing with the world’s renowned Glen Miller Orchestra. The music of American post-war culture icon Glenn Miller has captivated millions of people with hits like Moonlight Serenade, In The Mood, Tuxedo Junction and Chattanooga Choo Choo. Featuring a cast of 38 musicians, singers and dancers, the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s will bring swinging riff and the unmistakable melodies of Miller’s music to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
No jazz collaboration has been as celebrated as the one between Chick Corea and Gary Burton. A Downbeat Hall of Famer and 20-time Grammy Award winner, virtuoso pianist and composer Chick Corea has attained the status of living legend after five decades of unparalleled creativity and invention. Gary Burton is known for his days with the Stan Getz Quartet and for playing a founding role in the birth of jazz fusion. Today, he is considered jazz’s most innovative and critically acclaimed vibraphonist. Melbourne International Jazz Festival will welcome this exquisite, dynamic and unmissable duo of modern jazz masters on the final night (8 June).
And if you are a Frank Sinatra fan, you might be happy to hear that Hollywood actor and singer Robert Davi will bring the music of Sinatra and the Great American Songbook on the stage of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Performing in Australia for the very for time (on 7 June), the classically trained Davi will pull of a genuine tribute to “Ol’ Blue Eyes” that will certainly make you his fan.
Explorations in Jazz and Club Sessions
Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2014 will also feature Explorations in Jazz, a series of events that presents different styles of jazz through different formats. In A Celebration of Charlie Parker, for instance a dynamic Monash Art Ensemble, led by pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky and composed of students of the Monash University Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, will explore the rich territory on the border of improvisation and notation. Part of the show will also be British jazz maverick pianist, bandleader and educator Django Bates and his critically-acclaimed trio Belovèd.
Award-winning jazz singer and West End leading lady Fem Belling will bring to life the independent spirit and wistful romanticism of the late Blossom Dearie, while genre-shaping bassist Derrick Hodge and vocalist Chris Turner, at his first show in Australia, will present an unmissable mix of jazz, hip-hop, funk and soul.
Highlights of Explorations in Jazz are also the premiere Australian performance of prodigious drummer Chris Dave and his genre-defying band The Drumhedz, the world’s premiere of Tilman Robinson‘s The Agony of Knowledge – a musical exploration of the epic Icelandic poem Volsungasaga – and 774’s Swing Noir. Get your dancing shoes ready because this special event, back after the wild success of 2013’s Roaring Swing, will take you back to the golden ear of gypsy and swing-rhythms-filled jazz clubs. Host Hilary Harper and dance diva and DJ Miss Sugar Puss, along with two of Melbourne’s most seductive bands – Ultrafox and Swingville, welcome you for an vibrant show.
And on the final day of the festival, Melbourne’s Trunk Restaurant will present the popular Soul Food Lunch. Back after last year’s sold-out success, the event brings you soul-inspired music and food with a 4-course menu that includes your favourite jambalayas and collard greens. Seats are limited, so make sure book in advance.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2014 will showcase the best national talents in Club Sessions, series of concerts organised in Melbourne’s jazz hot spots: Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Jazz Club and Uptown Jazz Café. If you are looking for some of the most prominent members of the Australian jazz scene, as well as additional international acts, chance are you will find them as part of Club Sessions.
Free events, movies and family fun at Melbourne International Jazz Festival
For younger jazz fans, the festival presents two entertaining events (both on 1 June). Ali McGregor, known as award-winning soprano of the Opera Australia, will welcome your family for the fun-filled Jazzamatazz! Featuring rock’n’roll and swing dancers and McGregor’s vocal talents, this hour of jazzy beat will have your kids, singing, jumpin’ and jivin’ on the dancefloor.
You and your kids can also join the members of the vibrant masked musical troupe Prophets in a joyful combination of mask crafting, instrument building and collective music making. Rehearse your tunes of your newly-made instruments, jam with the band and join the parade through Federation Square for a morning of jazz and fun.
At Melbourne International Jazz Festival you will have the opportunity to ask questions to the festival headliners! Join Charles Lloyd, Mary Stallings, Joshua Redman, Gary Burton, Larry Carlton and other guests as they recount their journeys through the art form, Q&A’s and spontaneous live demonstrations in the free In Conversation. Imagine to have a multi-time Grammy Award winner giving you advice on how to become a musician, how to master an instrument and much more. Ok, now STOP IMAGINING and get ready for this: at Melbourne Jazz Fest, you can do all this! Chick Corea, Charles Llyod, Larry Carlton and Django Bates Belovèd will host free workshops that welcome jazz enthusiasts of all kind.
And if you are up for more free live music, make sure not to miss Jazz Out West, series that features Melbourne’s newest and funkiest New Orleans-styled brass band Horns of Leroy, the sonic narratives of the up and coming band Hey Frankie and funked-up afro-beat show that features traditional Ethiopian food (dinner reservations recommended).
No experience at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is complete without Jazz On Film. Learn more about jazz icons like Charles Llyod and James Booker with Charles Lloyd: Arrows into Infinity and Bayou Maharajah or,discuss the music of Frank Sinatra with Hollywood actor after watching The Man with the Golden Arm.
30 May – 8 June