Strains of “All or Nothing at All” on a gentle saxophone with a Monash University Arts band, led the path to the Clarendon Ballroom of the gracious Langham Hotel, a fitting setting for the launch of the 17th Melbourne International Jazz Festival: 30 May to 8 June.
A major supporter, the Langham will be the venue for a free In Conversation with …., designed to give the public an opportunity to hear and ask questions of some of the world’s great jazz musicians recount their musical journeys.
The first, on Saturday 31 May, will be two legends, American saxophonist Charles Lloyd and Greek vocalist Maria Farantouri, an exponent of Mikis Theodorakis’s hauntingly beautiful music. You can hear them perform the following night at the Melbourne Town Hall, courtesy of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture, but for that you will have to book early.
Another conversation will be with charismatic tenor saxphonist, Joshua Redman, from the US on 6 June. You can catch his quartet at the Melbourne Recital Centre on 8 June with a special guest performance by Melbourne’s own Joe Chindamo Trio. What a night!
Of course, to have the opportunity to hear American, Gary Burton’s Journey with the vibraphone will also be a one-off at on 8 June 8, followed by his performance that evening with another jazz icon and 20-time Grammy award winner, Chick Corea, on piano.
To be able to hear this long-term partnership in a venue with the amazing acoustics of Hamer Hall is just one of the reasons why Melbourne has a respected and secure place on the ‘global jazz map,’ described aptly by Chairman of the Festival, John Stanhope, who forecasts that Melbourne will be welcoming over 40,000 people to attend the 100 events in 24 different locations.
Mary Stallings from the US, with a voice like Ella and Sarah’s rolled into one, will be performing at the Recital Centre on 5 June, Nock & Pike and the Julien Wilson Quartet at the Malthouse on 7 June and a host of others at three major jazz venues, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Dizzy’s ,Jazz Club and the Uptown Jazz Club.
There will also be strolling musicians, educational programs and dance, like the Swing Patrol, at places like the Footscray Community Arts Centre that hopes to embrace the suburbs in a new and exciting way with the help of over 200 volunteers.
The Hon. Heidi Victoria, Minister for the Arts, a long-time jazz fan herself, opened the launch of the Festival with enthusiasm, not only for visiting overseas artists, but also for the “local talent, nurtured, loved and exposed” throughout Melbourne.
Michael Tortoni, in his tenth year as Artistic Director, then treated jazz devotees to a selection of video highlights, but his piece de resistance was a stunning, live performance by local band Christopher Hale’s Sylvan Coda with Spanish dancer Johnny Tedesco and three vocalists. It is this band that will accompany the opening act of the festival: “One of the most prolific and unique musicians of Iberian jazz”, Jorge Pardo, with his trio performing his latest project, “Huellas”.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
30 May to 8 June