The Melbourne International Jazz Festival (3-12 June 2016) fosters a true festival vibe. Its venues span from Monash University to the city and out west to Footscray. The program includes workshops and collaborations with local and international artists – plus concerts, jam sessions, and interactive installations.
Artistic Director Michael Tortoni – founder of Bennets Lane, and Melanie Pose, the Program Manager with the golden ears for new talent, have fulfilled their vision to create a festival that, like live improvisation, draws from what is happening around the listener in the moment as well as embracing the connection between many genres and all generations.
In honour of the ever-evolving art form that is jazz, here are my top ten picks. This may be the hardest list I have ever had to make.
- Esperenza Spalding presents: Emily’s D+Evolution – 3 June
Staging songs as much as playing them, Grammy Award-winning singer, composer, and bass player Esperanza Spalding’s new multimedia project exhibits a whole new side of the artist, performing as the persona of Emily (Spalding’s middle name).
- Late Night Jams with the Hue Blanes Trio – 3-12 June
The late night jam sessions headed up by local jazz pianist Hue Blanes will feature truly spontaneous and improvised music.
- A Tribute to Allan Browne – 6 June
Honouring the memory of great Australian jazz drummer and poet, Allan Browne, hosted by Allan’s long term colleague, collaborator, and friend Paul Grabowsky.
- Los Cabrones at the Winter Night Markets – 8 June
This 14-piece ensemble playing both original and classic Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz tunes will be sure to heat up the Winter Night Markets.
- Hiromi: The Trio Project – 9 June
A performance predicted to be a spectacle by an artist described as a force of nature by those who have witnessed her previous performances. Hiromi was performing with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 14 and playing with Chick Corea at 17. She is an artist not to be missed.
- Snarky Puppy – 9 June
This jazz-funk collective from Brooklyn are part of the new generation of eclectic artists to be featured at this year’s festival, drawing inspiration from Björk, James Brown, and Radio Head.
- Van Morrison’s Masterpieces featuring Vince Jones and the Astral Orchestra – 10 JunePredicted to be a crowd pleaser, featuring Vince Jones and the Astral Orchestra, this gig will be a tour of the most beloved hits of Van Morrison’s blending genres, from Celtic rock to Jazz.
- Kristin Berardi Band – 10 June
Fresh from her win of the International Vocal Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Berardi is a shining example of local Australian talent, accompanied by a band of some of Australia’s outstanding jazz musicians.
- Yesterday I Had the Blues – the Music of Billie Holiday – 11 June
Young baritone José James pays homage to one of the greatest jazz and blues singer to ever lived by reimagining her standards.
- Wallace – 11 June
MIJF ‘Jazz Out West’ program features a series of free acts in venues across Footscray. Singer Wallace Gollan is an act worth making a trip west for. Wallace will also be appearing on June 9 and 10 at the Juilliard Free Lunchtime Jazz event at St. James on Bourke Street.
Jazz is an umbrella that can encompass an eclectic range of styles and musical influences, the 2016 Melbourne International Jazz Festival hosts a wide variety of both established and innovative artists from all over the world as well as local contributors, in a Festival that has something for everyone.
Emmanuella Grace is a Singer and Voice and Performance Coach who has performed as a jazz singer and composer in venues from London’s Ronnie Scotts and Cafe de Paris to Vienna’s Theresianisten Ball.
The Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs 3-12 June 2016. Purchase tickets now.