Melbourne will soon come alive with the sound of jazz. Get ready for over 100 performances and events across the city, from massive concert halls to intimate venues. Even the Melbourne City Baths will hum with the sound of music. The line-up this year is bigger than ever, with ten-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan celebrating 50 years in music at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) will run from October 20 to 29.
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. This year, you can look forward to 11 world premieres, 10 Australian-exclusive performances, 16 new Australian and international collaborations and the largest proportion of free programming in the festival’s history.
“This is one of our most bold and ambitious festivals yet,” said Michael Tortoni, Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director. “We cannot wait for audiences to witness some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians and iconic artists as they converge on our city over a huge 10 days in October.”
The festival will kick off with a massive six hours of funk, jazz, disco and soul at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. This launch event will feature Chaka Khan and Nile Rodgers & CHIC. They will be supported by ARIA-winning neo soul performer Kaiit and Melbourne’s own Horns of Leroy.
This performance by Khan will be an Australian exclusive. After her show in Melbourne, she will be officially inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sing along to familiar favourites like “I’m Every Woman” and “Ain’t Nobody”.
Meanwhile, Fed Square will light up with free performances on Friday October 20 and Saturday October 21.
On Saturday, you’ll hear the sounds of a classic New Orleans jazz parade through the streets of Melbourne at Second Line Street Party. New Orleans legends, Hot 8 Brass Band, will lead the march along the Yarra, through Southbank and Federation Square. They will be joined by Horns of Leroy. You’re invited to dress up, put on some colourful beads and join the party. If you’re keen to see more of Hot 8 Brass Band, they will also perform at Max Watt’s during the festival.
Award-winning actress and Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Lisa Simone is coming to Hamer Hall for the first time. She will be honouring the legacy of her mother, Nina Simone, by bringing the Simone repertoire to life. She will be joined by a swinging all-star big band.
Meanwhile, Grammy-winning vocalist and composer Cécile McLorin Salvant will also perform at Hamer Hall. Performing on the closing night of the festival, this will be her MIJF debut.
Beasts of No Nation will return, paying tributes to Afrobeat and highlife legends. Presented in partnership with PBS 106.7 FM, this year, Ghanaian guitarist Ebo Taylor will perform in Australia for the first time. This 87-year-old icon has recorded and toured consistently for over 60 years, shaping Afrobeat as we know it today. He will be joined by 17-piece band The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra.
You can also look forward to music from “beat scientist” Makaya McCraven, UK trio GoGo Penguin, US super group SFJAZZCollective, Blue Note artist Nduduzo Makhathini, Chicago trumpeter Marquis Hill and Canadian trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.
Head to Melbourne City Baths for Dead Weight, a kooky jazz performance composed and directed by trombonist Shannon Barnett. You’re invited to navigate the various gym spaces and listen to surprising works from 18 jazz musicians. Discover three singers in the female changeroom, hear a power funk band perform along a fitness instructor, and more.
Folk jazz trio Elixir will have a special performance at Melbourne Recital Centre, and launch their latest album, A Small Shy Truth.
Vanessa Perica will also perform at the Melbourne Recital Centre. She will premiere her new album, and be joined by an 18-piece ensemble made up of other Australian jazz musicians, like Jamie Oehlers and Julien Wilson.
Chinese-Australian composer, performer and pioneer of modern guzheng music Mindy Meng Wang will join composer and pianist Paul Grabowsky AO at Chapel Off Chapel. Together, they will go on a journey between Chinese folk music and contemporary jazz.
Stay up late at Max Watt’s for a night of dancing, with a triple act from TEYMORI, Supernatural Dirt and Alexander Flood.
Venues around Melbourne
Melbourne International Jazz Festival will take over Chapel Off Chapel for five days. There will be a family-friendly event for the little ones, as well as performances from Australian and international musicians.
The JazzLab in Brunswick will come to life every night of the festival. Stay out late and enjoy shows from emerging artists, long-time talents and fresh collaborations.
Foodie hotspot Grazeland will join in on the action, with three days of free music over the course of the festival. Listen to local jazz, funk, soul and swing, while enjoying food and drink from over 50 vendors.
Nearby, Newport’s The Substation will host genre-defying collaborations from Australian and international musicians.
Jazz will take over Moonee Ponds at the Moonee Ponds Street Party, from 2pm to 6pm on Sunday October 22. Listen to music on stage, then after 6pm, go on a jazz crawl and enjoy tunes from nearby restaurants and bars.
Footscray’s Maddern Square will close out the festival on Sunday October 29. Spend an afternoon listening to the rhythms and beats of Africa, with appearances from Australian and African jazz singers and rappers.
For more information about the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, click here.