‘Just a taste’: Melbourne International Jazz Festival drops star-studded early lineup

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‘Just a taste’: Melbourne International Jazz Festival drops star-studded early lineup

Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2023 lineup
Photo by Karolis Kaminskas
Words by Staff Writer

Melbourne International Jazz Festival has revealed SFJAZZ Collective, Nduduzo Makhathini, William Barton, GoGo Penguin and Cécile McLorin Salvant on its 2023 lineup.

Ahead of the full 2023 program launch, Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) gives music fans a taste of what’s to come this October, today revealing four critically acclaimed international artists, collaborations and collectives who will head to Melbourne to take part in the annual city-wide celebration of jazz.

The potent early look includes American multi-Grammy award-winning artist Cécile McLorin Salvant (pictured), described by Spin as “her generation’s most imaginative and thrilling jazz interpreter”, who will close out the festival with a powerful Hamer Hall performance.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s 2023 lineup

  • Tickets for these early announce acts are on sale now via www.melbournejazz.com
  • Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s full 2023 program will be announced in late August
  • Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs from 20 – 29 October 2023

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America’s most critically acclaimed jazz supergroup SFJAZZ Collective, will commemorate their 20-year anniversary at Melbourne Recital Centre.

Celebrated South African composer, producer and Blue Note pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, will collaborate for the first time with Kalkadungu composer and didgeridoo musician William Barton in a specially commissioned Melbourne International Jazz Festival exclusive performance that will tap into and reflect each artist’s spirituality and deep ancestral history.

And in what is sure to be sweet news for long-time fans, UK-based self-described ‘cinematic break-beat trio’ GoGo Penguin will perform in Australia for the first time, enlivening audiences at the Forum with their high-energy live experience.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director Michael Tortoni said: “This early look at the 2023 program is just a taste of what’s to come but is testament to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s commitment to showcasing extraordinary talent from around the world and across Australia. Jazz enthusiasts and music lovers alike are in for a real treat this October. I cannot wait to share the full line-up soon.”

Along with these astounding first-look acts, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2023 program is set to feature the largest international line-up of performances it has ever hosted with the full program set to be announced in late August.

Cécile McLorin Salvant

  • 29 October, Hamer Hall

Making her Melbourne International Jazz Festival debut – and bringing the 2023 festival to an unforgettable close – is celebrated Grammy-winning vocalist and composer, Cécile McLorin Salvant.

A charismatic storyteller and dramatically charged performer, Salvant combines searingly emotive vocals with a captivating stage presence in a thrilling force that has electrified audiences the world over, and reimagined jazz for a new generation.

As the most accomplished jazz vocalist of her generation, Salvant has collected countless accolades, winning the Thelonious Monk competition in 2010, receiving the MacArthur fellowship in 2022 and the Duke Artist Award – as well as the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for three consecutive years.

Seamlessly traversing genre and culture – from jazz, blues, baroque and folkloric music – Salvant will take audiences on a mesmeric journey through a broad repertoire ranging from rich interpretations of familiar songs to rarely performed treasures – all brought to life with a uniquely theatrical flair.

SFJAZZ Collective

  • 25 October, Melbourne Recital Centre

One of the great US jazz supergroups of the past half-century will make its Australian debut at MIJF this year, in an exclusive performance at Melbourne Recital Centre delivering inspired takes on the classics and showcasing the skill of contemporary jazz’s top talent on the scene today.

Founded by SFJAZZ (San Francisco) in 2004, the SFJAZZ Collective has been dubbed “contemporary jazz’s premier all-star band” by the New York Times and has welcomed over 30 world-class players over the years, championing jazz as an ever relevant and evolving art form.

Currently under the musical direction of acclaimed saxophonist Chris Potter, this incredible seven-piece ensemble also includes David Sanchez on tenor saxophone, Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Warren Wolf on vibraphone, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Kendrick Scott.

To celebrate 20 years as a working ensemble, the band will perform a landmark Anniversary program that both honours the history of the group and looks ahead to its future.

William Barton & Nduduzo Makhathini

  • 27 October, Substation

In a very special MIJF collaboration, the formidable Nduduzo Makhathini (South Africa) will be joined by distinguished ARIA winner and 2023 Queensland Australian of the Year William Barton – whose peerless profile as a composer, vocalist and didgeridoo player has awarded him the title of the world’s pre-eminent didgeridoo musician.

As skilled improvisers and composers, both artists are renowned for masterfully weaving a thread between Western classical and jazz traditions, and the rich soundscapes of their cultural and spiritual musical heritage.

In a truly unique genre-defying pairing, Barton and Makhathini will combine forces to unveil a rapturous musical encounter that promises to cross borders, expand horizons and create new musical languages that speak to culture, Country and beyond.

Featuring a specially commissioned composition by Barton, and reimaginings of their respective original works, together these acclaimed artists will craft an unmissable live experience, putting their prodigious musical talent on full display for MIJF audiences.

GoGo Penguin

  • 27 October, The Forum

UK instrumental trio GoGo Penguin will make their long-awaited maiden voyage to Australia for an electrifying performance that is guaranteed to thrill audiences and convert even the staunchest jazz non-believer.

The trio have garnered a cult-like following for their rare combination of dance-friendly production, anthemic melodies and virtuosic jazz instrumentation. Fusing jazz, rock, classical and electronic influences (amongst others) with a thirst for innovation, they’ve enjoyed success matched by precious few instrumental groups post-millennium.

This line-up joins the already announced Makaya McCraven, the US jazz improv ‘beat scientist’ at The Croxton Band Room on 25 October and Celebrating Nina Simone featuring her award-winning daughter Lisa Simone set to celebrate her mother’s legacy for the first time in Australia on 22 October at Hamer Hall.

Tickets for these early announce acts are on sale now via www.melbournejazz.com.