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Who to look out for: Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2014

Daniel Driscoll

Tue May 06 2014

Charles Lloyd

ANOTHER huge lineup of acts have been organised once again for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and if you’re a cool jazz cat, you’ll find plenty to do over the ten-day festival. Daniel Driscoll helps you sort through the program.

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2014 will have more than 300 local and international artists performing in more than 100 events, including 12 Australian premieres, four festival exclusives and nearly 30 free events this year. That’s a whole lot of jazz!

From May 30 – June 8, there’ll be plenty to keep jazz lovers occupied, though the festival’s exhausting program might leave some heads spinning. But don’t fret; we’ve whittled down the program to the acts we’re looking forward to so you can get an idea of what you can sample from the major categories of the festival.

Explorations in Jazz 

Explorations in Jazz presents performers who don’t fit the usual idea of what jazz should be. This experimental and vibrant side of the festival will highlight performers at the vanguard of next-generational jazz such as genre-defying outfit Chris Dave and The Drumhedz, who arean amalgamation of R&B, funk, rock, jazz, hip-hop and electronica.

The festival will also have an exclusive double bill, featuring two artists at the vanguard of next-generational, multi-layered jazz. Bassist and composer Derrick Hodge and his band will perform works from his acclaimed 2013 release, Live Today. The performance also features Chris Turner on vocals for these exclusive performances.

Modern Masters

Those after a more international flare will find much to enjoy in the festival’s Modern Masters program.

Chick Corea and Gary Burton, each a musical giant in their own right, perform as a duo with Chick Corea and Gary Burton Duets. Through their performances, they will be delving into material from the jazz world and beyond with a show that will demonstrate why they remain the most exciting duo in modern jazz.

Actor and jazz vocalist Robert Davi makes his Australian debut with his acclaimed tribute to Frank Sinatra in Davi Sings Sinatra. Jorge Pardo, one of Spain’s most innovative instrumentalists and The Glenn Miller Orchestra are also special highlights with the orchestra celebrating its 77th anniversary under the direction of singer Robert Gerber.

Club Sessions

Melbourne’s jazz clubs will play host to a huge program of 45 Club Sessions, featuring an amazing array of talented musicians performing at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Uptown Jazz Cafe and Dizzy’s Jazz Club.

Bennetts Lanewillshowcase international and Australian acts including Australian premieres from Daniel Zamir and Tomer Bar, Django Bates Belovèd and Brisbane’s Trichotomy featuring UK saxophonist Julian Argüelles.

The Uptown Jazz Cafesessions will feature local artists Ian Chaplin Trio, Sam Keevers Sextet, Paul Williamson QuartetStephen Magnusson Trio, Andrea Keller Quartet, 2013 National Jazz Awards winner Joe O’Connor Trio, The Lagerphones, bebop outfit Bopstretch, and DRUB featuring improvisational musicians Scott Tinkler (trumpet), Carl Dewhurst (guitar) and Simon Barker (drums).

Meanwhile,Dizzy’s Jazz Clubfeatures Australia’s first lady of jazz Janet Seidel performing A Tribute to Blue Note. Vocalists Daina Jowsey, Rebecca Mendoza, Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Peter Hearne, Tamara Kuldin will also be playingas well as Kunjani who’ll be performing a fusion of samba, Afro-funk, soul calypso and gospel.

Other Events

The extensive free program kicks off with the Opening Celebration Concert, offering a taste of what’s on offer at the festival.

Other events include Free Jazz at Fed Square,The Wires Project led by Briana Cowlishaw,Lunchtime Jazz at St James and 459 Collins Street, the hugely popular Soundwalks walking tours, In Conversation sessions and immersive Artist Workshops with visiting international musicians.

The Cave – a late-night art party at The Kelvin Club, curated by Wondercore Island – also returns, providing musical renegades and night owls a place to howl during the festival.

Now go get your tickets and go listen to some of that smooth jazz you crazy cats!

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs from May 30 to June 8. For more information and to book tickets head to the festival’s site.