Melbourne will soon come alive with the sound of jazz. Get ready for over 85 performances and events across the city, including exclusive concerts from international stars, one-off festival collaborations, outdoor events, free experiences and more. Concert halls, arenas, clubs, bars, parks and other gorgeous venues like the Planetarium will hum with the sound of music. The Melbourne international Jazz Festival (MIJF) will run from October 14 to 23.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Every year since 1998, the sound of jazz takes over Melbourne. International names and Australian contemporaries come together to celebrate jazz culture.
“Melbourne has long been the epicentre of Australia’s vibrant and buzzing jazz scene,” said artistic director Michael Tortoni. “I am absolutely thrilled to open the festival, and this city, back up to the world with the best jazz musicians and performers from across the country and around the globe set to converge here this October. It’s going to be a hell of a party.”
Head to the festival’s spiritual home, The Jazzlab, for intimate gigs and late-night jams. There, you can expect spontaneous and unrepeatable late sessions every night of the festival. Meanwhile, The Toff in Town will also feature late night sessions, combining live jazz with dance music.
At Chapel Off Chapel, MIJF’s Export Series will showcase the best of Australian jazz. Listen to performances from Brekky Boy, Zela Margossian Quintet and a specially cross-cultural collaborative work between Christopher Hale and Minyoung Woo.
Arts Centre Melbourne will host a free series of conversations and panel talks with some of the world’s leading jazz artists, so you can get up close and personal with the musicians.
The festival’s opening weekend will kick off with Big Saturday at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Originally meant to take place last year, this event will feature international heavyweights Fat Freddy’s Drop. Over a two-hour set, this eight-piece group from New Zealand will take you on a celebration of jazz, funk and soul. They will headline a mammoth line-up of stars, including funk and soul pioneers The Bamboos, Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, and Harry James Angus from The Cat Empire with drummer Freyja Hooper.
Melbourne’s Planetarium will also light up with the sound of jazz. Pioneering USA jazz innovator Dan Tepfer will bring his Natural Machines to the festival. Tepfer programs a reproduced grand piano to respond in real time to the music that he improvises at the piano. As this happens, gorgeous, algorithmically generated animated art is projected onto the domed ceiling above.
After a one-year delay due to border closures, Disruption! The Sound of Drums will finally have its Melbourne premiere. This show explores the primal power of drums across cultures. Composer-saxophonist Jeremy Rose is joined by two virtuoso drummers, Simon Barker and Chloe Kim, to present a tribute to drums. They are joined by the Earshift Orchestra, and powerful images from video artists Rachel Peachey and Paul Mosig.
Acclaimed Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Emma Donovan will present her family-friendly show, Follow the Sun. Commissioned by ABC Kids, this celebration of country, kids, community and language features original songs, sung in Noongar and Gumbaynggirr languages.
5-time Grammy Award winner Lalah Hathaway (USA) will perform in Australia for the first time. Co-presented with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Hathaway will take over Hamer Hall over two nights. Hathaway has shared the sage with music royalty, including Prince and Stevie Wonder. This performance will honour the legacy and work of her father, the singer, arranger, composer and soul music legend Donny Hathaway.
Grammy award winner Al Di Meola (USA) will also come to Melbourne. One of the greatest guitarists of our time, Di Meola will showcase his mesmerising technique at the Melbourne Recital Centre for one night only.
MonoNeon (USA), one of the most revered electric bassists of his time, is coming to 170 Russell for just one night. One of the last musicians to work with Prince, this artist will bring his progressive blend of southern soul, funk, jazz and blues to Melbourne with his 5-piece band.
Grammy-nominated, Brooklyn-based, Chilean saxophonist, Melissa Aldana, will bring her quartet to the festival to perform music from her 2022 Blue Note album, 12 Stars. Together, they will perform intimate, late-night shows at The Jazzlab.
Jazz in the West
Melbourne’s west will come alive with a series of free live performances, in partnership with Maribyrnong and Mooney Valley City Councils. The Footscray Library Forecourt will transform into an outdoor jazz club over the opening weekend of the festival. On Saturday, it will feature Afro-Jazz and pop-up bars. Then, on Sunday, it will feature a laid-back, family-friendly vibe, with an afternoon of Afro-Cuban beats.
Meanwhile, guest programmer Flora Carbo will curate some of the best jazz, soul and RnB talent from around Melbourne with a series of free shows in some of the most beloved local cafés and bars in the City of Mooney Valley.
Discover all the events playing at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival by clicking here.