The 2021 Melbourne International Jazz Festival kicks off this Thursday and runs from December 2 - 5, with a massive 70 live music events set over just four days.
The 2021 Melbourne International Jazz Festival is set to reignite Melbourne’s jazz community after two years of immense struggle, and if the weather holds out, it will likely delightfully overwhelm the senses of music loving Melburnians as Melbourne Music Week is set to kick off at the same time.
We got a taste of what’s to come on November 26 at Hamer Hall with the Jazz Festival’s Opening Night Gala, featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Eddie Perfect and a lineup including Vince Jones, Harry James Angus, Kylie Auldist, Michelle Nicolle and Thando.
Now the festival itself is set to take over all corners of the city including the new Jazz Hub at The Toff in Town, which will bring ‘late-night’ back to the CBD. While 2021 Melbourne International Jazz Festival headliners Fat Freddy’s Drop had to pull out due to COVID uncertainties, there’s a massive lineup of local talent left that will provide a soothing soulful long weekend; here’s our favourites.
What you need to know
- The Melbourne International Jazz Festival will run from Thursday 2 – Sunday 5 December
- It features 70 live acts spread across four days and multiple Melbourne venues
- Tickets are available now at the Melbourne Jazz website.
Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.
Thando: The Jill Scott Project Thursday 2 December at The Toff in Town
Speaking of Thando, she’s the first of our must-see events for the festival. Born in Zimbabwe, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, Thando, has been charming audiences around Australia with her electric stage presence and powerhouse vocals.
She is a commanding performer with a natural ability to tell a story and take her audience on a journey of reflection. The songstress grew up feasting on the musical offerings of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, QUEEN and TLC. Along the way she found Jill Scott, and crafted her genre-bending sound with an electric live set.
30/70 + Tamil Rogeon Friday 3 December at 170 Russell
30/70 is a collective of Melbourne-based musicians devoted to truth through sound and the beauty of endless motion. From swirling opening pads to sax-laden shimmers, the group effortlessly shift between neo-soul, astral-facing future jazz, and authentic vignettes of UK club music history.
Joining them on this double bill of new jazz excellence, is viola-jazz pioneer Tamil Rogeon (The Raah Project), showcasing tunes from his critically acclaimed recent release, ‘Son of Nyx’. His swirling prism of exploratory modal jazz, Afro-latin percussion and string-led composition is heavily inspired by the spiritual jazz and jazz fusion movements of the 60s and 70s.
Jazz Westside Friday 3 December at the Footscray Night Market
The festival brings jazz to the west in a free night of music at the new Footscray Night Market for Jazz Westside, and includes a set by Gordon Koang – a household name in South Sudan and an incredible performer with 9 albums under his belt. Accompanied by his cousin Paul Biel and his new Australian band, Gordon spreads a message of peace, love and unity, dancefloor style. Gordon’s album Unity was released last year through Bedroom Suck imprint Music In Exile and saw him nominated for the 2020 Australian Music Prize.
The Experience, Sunday 5 December at The Toff In Town
The Experience pays tribute to the music of the late father of South African Jazz “Bra Hugh” Masekela and Zimbabwean music legend Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.
With over a century of music and hundreds of albums between them, Bra Hugh and Tuku played a vital role in the liberation of both South Africa and Zimbabwe and paved the way for young musicians throughout the continent. Led by ZIIMUSIC, and featuring members of The Experience and Zimbabwean born vocalist Thando, these superb musicians pay respect to the legacy of these legendary artists.
For all the details, head to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s website here.