Melbourne International Jazz Festival returns from 14 – 23 October in 2022 with 400 artists and the festival's first international lineup in three years.
When you think of typical venues for jazz, it’s possible you conjure an image of an almost secret space, a subterreanean speakeasy hidden down a laneway, or cosily lit intimate club lounges. What’s even more likely is that you definitely won’t be thinking of The Planetarium. However, that is one of many venues that will be hosting more than 85 events that will be a part of this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival. In whatever context you best enjoy your live jazz – in the formal surrounds of Hamer Hall, alfresco during the day at Sidney Myer Music Bowl or in the classic bar and club surrounds this ever-evolving form has always been set in – the Melbourne International Jazz Festival has you covered.
While Covid-19 ruined all our performing arts fun over the past couple of years, and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival was forced online in 2020 and last year’s rescheduled offering was squeezed in between variant waves, this year they are back with a full program including international guest artists.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2022 dates
- Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) 2022 will run from 14 – 23 October
- The festival will feature 400 artists and the first international lineup in three years
- It will be staged at venues across the city, with Lalah Hathaway the major headliner
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Headlining this year’s festival will be Lalah Hathaway, a living legend of R&B, soul and jazz, who also has five Grammy Awards to her name. She’s previously performed with the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder, plus collaborated with Pharrell Williams and Dr. Dre, however while making her Australian debut will be performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Hamer Hall over two nights.
Booking Hathaway, who is known as The ‘First Daughter of Soul’, has been well over a year in the making. “There are a lot of moving parts, but that’s what will make it such a special concert,” says Melbourne International Jazz Festival Program Director Hadley Agrez.
Al Di Meola
Another Grammy winner heading to Melbourne from the US is guitarist Al Di Meola, who is a pioneer of blending jazz with musical styles from around the world, and pianist, Tal Cohen, who is doing two shows – one with saxophonist Jamie Oehlers and the second featuring that pair with Alistair Peel on bass and drummer Ben Vanderwal.
In an Australian exclusive, there’ll be a performance from MonoNeon, who Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers has called “the greatest electric bass player” and trailblazer Melissa Aldana, who rates as the first South American and the first female to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition.
“We’re excited to be bringing the international artists back to go alongside the very best artists we’ve got right here, and plenty of them are playing together as well. You know, collaboration is really at the heart of everything that jazz is and there are loads of works featuring international artists alongside Melbourne artists, too,” says Agrez.
“I think those experiences are what our festival does, in such a unique way,” he says of the festival that has been celebrating the world’s leading modern masters and sonic innovators right here in our city since 1998.
The festival really includes the whole spectrum of jazz styles and experiences, with the program offering exclusive performances from global giants of the genre, one-off festival-only collaborations, outdoor concerts, free and family-friendly experiences.
Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Bamboos and Emma Donovan
“A good example of the broadest kind of programming we’ve got is at the Myer Music Bowl with Fat Freddy’s Drop and The Bamboos and Emma Donovan, so we’re really hoping that everyone just goes out for a great time, enjoying six hours of music in the sunshine,” says Agrez of the festival’s Big Saturday, a special event to kick off the festival’s huge opening weekend.
“But the hope is also that some people are willing to try some of the more experimental or more kind of contemporary jazz works, particularly the ones that are on in the Jazz Club,” he says of the intimate gigs and late-night jams that will be happening every night of the festival at MIJF’s spiritual home, The JazzLab.
Sessions there will include performers such as legendary New Zealand-born pianist and composer Mike Nock; multi-faceted New York drummer, improviser and composer Francesca Remigi together with Italian bass clarinettist Federico Calcagno, who blend sounds inspired by modern jazz, progressive rock, Indian Carnatic music, electronic and free jazz; and “lord of the strings” award-winning Australian guitarist/composer Quentin Angus, back from a decade in New York with a new album.
“The late-night jams are on from 11pm and they are some of the most unique and special moments that people can see. Now we’ve got international artists coming back, you just never know who’s on the stage, whether that’s the local jazz community, or whether that’s a couple of international headliners. We’re so fortunate in jazz that people can just get up at any moment and play together without a rehearsal. It’s just a really unique feature of the genre,” says Agrez.
Follow the Sun
Another unique offering will be the ‘Follow the Sun’ show, where acclaimed Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Emma Donovan will perform her own originals, plus much-loved classic children’s tunes such as ‘I Can Sing a Rainbow’ and ‘Once I Caught a Fish Alive’, with each being sung in Noongar and Gumbaynggirr languages. This family-friendly show will also interweave stories from Emma’s childhood, celebrating her country, community and language, while being backed by an all-star band of Melbourne jazz legends.
The festival has also commissioned new works, this year from award-winning composer Brenda Gifford, who is part of the Festival’s First Nations Artist Residency Program who will be performing with the Australian Art Orchestra, and her nephew, Joe Brown McLeod on didjeridoo and clapsticks.
As part of the festival’s Take Note artist development and gender equity initiative, there’s also a brand-new work from 2022’s Take Note Leader, Flora Carbo, considered one of the most exciting young artists in Australian jazz.
Chapel off Chapel’s Export Series
Local acts are being showcased at Chapel off Chapel as part of the Export Series.
“This is the second year that we’re running that program. I think that Australian jazz, and particularly Melbourne jazz, really stands up on the world stage, it’s as strong as anything that’s coming out of the US or elsewhere. The real problem for us is that we’re such a long way away from the rest of the world. One thing the festival does have is a great series of networks and connections around the world, so our hope through this Export Series is to, firstly, highlight those great performances for our local audiences, but we then record them and send them out to our network of industry and festivals around the world. Then with the support of the Vizard Foundation, we’re able to subsidize the travel costs for those artists to get to those festivals if they’re selected,” he explains.
Bringing the best of piano-driven jazz and groove-focused electronic music together to create an extraordinary sonic experience, Brekky Boy will astonish Melbourne audiences once more. After electrifying crowds at MIJF 2019, the Montreux Jazz Award-nominated trio returns to MIJF with their powerhouse cinematic jazz rock. One of Australia’s most virtuosic and respected improvising musicians, electric bassist Christopher Hale returns to MIJF ten years after releasing his critically acclaimed album Sylvan Coda. His latest recording, Ritual Diamonds is a cross-cultural collaborative work featuring percussionist/composer Minyoung Woo. Hale’s signature melodies are interwoven with the shimmering, complex rhythms of Woo’s innovative reassembly of Korean shamanic drumming languages.
Featuring a diverse line-up of some of Sydney’s finest musicians, the ARIA-nominated Zela Margossian Quintet will hit Melbourne riding high on the back of their critically acclaimed 2022 release, The Road(Ropeadope Records, USA). Margossian has garnered international attention in recent years for her kaleidoscopic original works and arrangements carrying influences from Armenian traditional music, melded with jazz and classical roots.
The festival will also head west, with a series of free live performances in partnership with Maribyrnong City Council and Moonee Valley, transforming The Footscray Library Forecourt into a breezy outdoor jazz club over the festival’s opening weekend. On Saturday night it’s all about Afro-Jazz and pop-up bars followed by a laid-back Sunday for the whole family, with an afternoon of Afro-Cuban beats, with several more events lined up throughout the festival.
If you’d rather talk about jazz, there’s also Close Encounters, a free series of intimate conversations and enlightening panels hosted by Arts Centre Melbourne. And the Planetarium? Well that’s where you’ll find a truly unique festival-only experience, with pioneering USA jazz innovator Dan Tepfer programming his Yamaha Disklavier, a state of the art, reproducing grand piano, to respond in real time to the music he improvises at the piano, which is then projected in animated visuals onto the domed ceiling overhead.
MIJF invites audiences through Close Encounters to get up close and personal with the some of the world’s leading jazz artists in a free series of intimate conversations and enlightening panels hosted by Arts Centre Melbourne. Scheduled panels include talks from Christopher Hale and Minyoung Woo (Aus/South Korea), Al Di Meola (USA) and Dan Tepfer (USA), Multicultural Arts Victoria as well as music industry health and wellbeing advocacy group Support Act.
For Agrez, wherever you experience the Melbourne International Jazz Festival he’s sure it will be a magical moment. “There’s something really special about watching the greats do it right there in front of you”.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s full 2022 program
Heralding a ten-day city-wide celebration of the diversity and dynamism of jazz, Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) has today launched its sweeping 2022 program with its first international line-up since 2019.
From 14–23 October, concert halls, arenas, clubs, bars, parks and even the Planetarium will reverberate with rhythm and burst to life with more than 85performances and events across Melbourne including exclusive concerts from global giants of the genre, one-off festival-only collaborations, outdoor events, free and family friendly experiences and premiere presentations from around Australia and the world.
“Melbourne has long been the epicentre of Australia’s vibrant and buzzing jazz scene–we’re famous the world over for it–and a huge part of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival has always been about celebrating and showcasing the best of our vibrant scene.” said Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s artistic director Michael Tortoni, “Now, with borders open once more, 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.”
- Lalah Hathaway performing Donny Hathaway
- Al Di Meola
- Melissa Aldana
Over two incredible nights at Hamer Hall, co-presented with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, MIJF presents living legend of R&B, soul and jazz: 5-time Grammy Award winner, Lalah Hathaway (USA), performing in Australia for the very first time.
Known for her powerful vocals and mesmerising range, Hathaway has shared the stage with a host of music royalty including Prince, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock and collaborated with modern heavyweights Pharrell Williams, Dr. Dre, Snarky Puppy, Robert Glasper and Esperanza Spalding. The ‘First Daughter of Soul’ and the MSO will honour the legacy and work of her illustrious father—singer, arranger, composer and soul music legend, Donny Hathaway.
Sitting firmly among the greatest guitarists of our time, Al Di Meola (USA) comes to Melbourne with a celebrated international career spanning almost five decades and numerous Grammy awards under his belt. A pioneer of blending jazz with musical styles from around the world, Di Meola’s dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who regularly flock to his concerts.
In his only Australian performance MonoNeon, one of the most revered electric bassists of his generation, brings his progressive blend of southern soul, funk, jazz and blues to 170 Russell along with his hard-hitting 5-piece band. Among the last musicians to work with Prince, the US experimentalist has been described as “the greatest electric bass player” by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his extensive list of collaborators also includes Bootsy Collins, NAS, Ghost-Note, John Madeski and Jacob Collier.
Grammy-nominated saxophonist Melissa Aldana is something of a trailblazer—she is both the first South American and the first female to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition. The Brooklyn-based tenor player from Santiago will bring her remarkable quartet to MIJF to perform music from her acclaimed 2022 Blue Note album 12 Stars.
- Fat Freddy’s Drop
- The Bamboos
- Emma Donovan and The Putbacks
- Harry James Angus and Freyja Hooper
- Dan Tepfer
- Disruption! The Voice of Drums
- Jeremy Rose, Simon Barker and Chloe Kim
- The Earshift Orchestra, Rachel Peachey and Paul Mosig
- Morgana: Lisa Young, Fiona Burnett, Andrea Keller, Annette Yates and Sonja Horbelt
- The Shuffle Club
- Nina Ferro and Julie O’Hara
- Georges Méliès’ films scored by Phillip Johnston (USA), Alister Spence, Daryl Pratt, and Lloyd Swanton
- Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos, Rare Groove Spectrum) and his 10-piece band Menagerie
Kicking off the festival’s huge opening weekend, MIJF’s previously announced Big Saturday sees international heavyweights Fat Freddy’s Drop headlining a mammoth line-up and taking over the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in a sundrenched, day-long celebration of jazz, funk and soul.
For over two decades on stage, Fat Freddy’s Drop have navigated their way from the incubator of sunshine reggae through a colour-saturated field of soul psychedelia before swerving onto a desolate Detroit superhighway at night. Over a massive two-hour set, this world-renowned eight-piece from New Zealand will be bringing their potent mix of jazz virtuosity and diaphragm-wrecking digital sonics.
Home-grown funk and soul pioneers, The Bamboos, join the bill to perform songs from their tenth studio album, Hard Up, and favourites from their 21 years together. Siren of soul Emma Donovan joins stone-cold pros The Putbacks—the players behind Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, The Meltdown and more—to form one of the tightest and most dynamic collaborations in town.
Completing the Big Saturday line-up, The Cat Empire’s founding firebrand trumpet-playing vocalist Harry James Angus collaborates with drummer Freyja Hooper in a duo whose sound is marked by hypnotic rhythms and complete harmonic freedom.
In a truly unique festival-only experience, audiences will experience Melbourne’s Planetarium like never before when pioneering USA jazz innovator Dan Tepfer brings his Natural Machines to MIJF. Proclaimed as “fascinating and ingenious” by Rolling Stone, Tepfer programs a Yamaha Disklavier, a state of the art, reproducing grand piano, to respond in real time to the music he improvises at the piano. All the while, stunning algorithmically generated animated visual art is projected onto the domed ceiling overhead.
Following a one-year border-closure delay, the critically lauded Disruption! The Voice of Drums, which explores the primal power of the drum across cultures, will at long last have its Melbourne premiere.
Composer-saxophonist Jeremy Rose is joined by two virtuoso drummers, Simon Barker and Chloe Kim—alongside the Earshift Orchestra and powerful images by video artists Rachel Peachey and Paul Mosig—to present a thrilling tribute to the timeless, visceral and disruptive power of the drum.
For her second MIJF performance, and in a family-friendly premiere, acclaimed Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Emma Donovan presents her Follow the Sun show—a celebration of her country, kids, community and language.
Commissioned by ABC Kids (2022), Follow the Sun features original songs penned by Donovan, alongside much-loved classic children’s tunes such as ‘I Can Sing a Rainbow’ and ‘Once I Caught a Fish Alive’—each sung in Noongar and Gumbaynggirr languages. Interwoven with stories from Emma’s childhood and backed by an all-star band of Melbourne jazz legends, this will be a joyous Festival highlight for both parents and children alike.
In a special 30-year anniversary celebration at Chapel Off Chapel, ground-breaking all-female quintet Morgana will reunite to perform their hard-hitting, dynamic brand of jazz. Morgana showcases some of Australia’s most exciting musical trailblazers and living legends of the Melbourne scene including, Lisa Young, Fiona Burnett, Andrea Keller, Annette Yates and Sonja Horbelt – each member having independently made their own exceptional mark on Australian jazz over the past three decades.
With their hot blend of jazz, swing, blues, boogie and infectious energy, MIJF will celebrate 21 years of Melbourne-based and internationally-renowned rapscallion raconteurs, The Shuffle Club. Having toured internationally across Europe, Asia and Central America, as well as performing regularly in festivals and clubs all over Australia, the dynamic four-piece will be joined by several special guests including Nina Ferro and Julie O’Hara for this triumphant performance.
At Darebin Arts Centre, in an event that will delight cinephiles and jazz-heads alike, the films of one of cinema’s earliest visionaries, Georges Méliès’ who inspired artists such as Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dali, Tim Burton, and Martin Scorsese are complemented with original scores by saxophonist, composer and arranger Phillip Johnston (USA). They’ll be performed live by an exceptional ensemble including Alister Spence, Daryl Pratt, and Lloyd Swanton (The Necks).
And in a massive MIJF opening night performance, guitarist, songwriter and producer Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos, Rare Groove Spectrum) will bring his 10-piece band Menagerie to the Darebin Arts Centre. Inspired by the modal, post-Coltrane generation of the 70s, along with the current new wave of jazz greats like Kamasi Washington and Nubya Garcia, Menagerie will perform from their acclaimed third album Many Worlds.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2022 commissions
- Brenda Gifford and the Australian Art Orchestra
- Flora Carbo
- Brekky Boy
- Christopher Hale
- Minyoung Woo
- Zela Margossian Quintet
In 2022, the festival continues its ongoing artist development initiatives and presents two stunning new commissions. At Melbourne Recital Centre, award-winning composer Brenda Gifford premieres new work as part of the Festival’s First Nations Artist Residency Program with the Australian Art Orchestra.
A proud Yuin woman, Brenda is a classically trained pianist and saxophonist whose arts practice is informed by her Country, community and culture. Performing on saxophone alongside her nephew Joe Brown McLeod (didjeridoo and clapsticks) and members of the Australian Art Orchestra, Brenda will present a new composition with Dhurga language about whales (Moriyawa) and creation stories from her Country.
And in its fourth year, the festival’s Take Note artist development and gender equity initiative presents a brand-new work from 2022’s Take Note Leader, Flora Carbo – one of the most exciting young artists in Australian jazz. For Carbo’s opening night festival performance she’ll premiere a suite of new music for her dynamic project, Ecosystem, exploring themes of place, environmentalism and social change re-contextualising the natural and unnatural sounds of the city.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s Club Sessions
- Mike Nock
- Jacques Emery and Chloe Kim
- Francesca Remigi and Federico Calcagno
- Quentin Angus
- Jo Lawry
- Tal Cohen
- Jamie Oehlers
- Alistair Peel (bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums)
- Hilary Geddes
- Kate Kelsey-Sugg and Brett Williams
- Emiliano Sampaio with Heinrich von Kalnein
Intimate gigs and late-night jams return every night of the festival at MIJF’s spiritual home: The JazzLab. Kicking off the Club Sessions is legendary New Zealand-born pianist and composer Mike Nock. Nock has remained at the forefront of Australasian jazz for more than 60 years, attracting critical acclaim and delighting audiences worldwide. To celebrate four decades since its release on ECM Records, he’ll revisit one of his career-defining albums, Ondas, joined by two outstanding young musicians rapidly establishing themselves on the national music scene, bassist Jacques Emery and drummer/percussionist Chloe Kim.
With the support of the Instituto Italiano di Cultura, multi-faceted New York drummer, improviser and composer Francesca Remigi together with Italian bass clarinettist Federico Calcagno, will be joined by some of Melbourne’s most accomplished young improvisers and will present her project Archipélagosfeaturing a blend of sounds inspired by modern jazz, progressive rock, Indian Carnatic music, electronic and free jazz.
Described as a “lord of the strings” (The Age), award-winning guitarist/composer Quentin Angus is one of Australia’s brightest stars on the international jazz circuit. Having firmly cemented his place in the NYC jazz scene over the past decade, Angus returns home with his brand new album, The State of Things, with a stellar all-Australian line-up that includes vocalist Jo Lawry—best known for her work with Sting, Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel.
Award-winning US-based pianist, Tal Cohen will perform two intimate JazzLab sets at the 2022 Festival: the first as a duo alongside long-time collaborator and saxophonist Jamie Oehlers; the second featuring an explosive quartet—with Cohen and Oehlers joined by Alistair Peel (bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums).
The in-demand Freedman Fellowship Award-winning guitarist and composer Hilary Geddes brings her 2021 ABC Jazz-commissioned album Parkside to the JazzLab stage. After touring this album extensively with her tight-knit quartet, Geddes makes her debut at MIJF 2022 to perform works from this stunning record.
A force on the US music scene, Kate Kelsey-Sugg and Brett Williams’ list of credits is formidable—having worked alongside legends such as Cyndi Lauper, Robert Glasper, Snarky Puppy and Stevie Wonder. Together they form B+K—combining their unique musical talents and love for songwriting and distilling their disparate influences into a harmonious blend of pop, R&B and soul.
Freeform Sydney quartet Tangents defy easy categorisation—moving between electronic, free jazz, rock and new musical forms with freewheeling abandon. The band’s live drums, piano/Rhodes and cello are fully integrated into their live electronics. This entirely improvised performance will feature material from their acclaimed 2021 release, Timeslips & Chimeras.
Drawing inspiration from Brazilian choro repertoire, the award-winning Meretrio brings a fresh perspective and sound to one of the world’s richest music traditions. Lead by Brazilian trombonist and guitarist Emiliano Sampaio, Meretrio will be joined by illustrious saxophonist and flautist Heinrich von Kalnein.
Late nights at MIJF
- DJ Mike Gurrieri
- Christopher Port and DJ JNETT
- Late Night Jams with The Rookies
At late-night institution The Toff in Town, audiences are invited to revel in the genre-bending cross-pollination of raw live jazz and dance music. Curated by DJ Mike Gurrieri, ELEVATE will bring together Australia’s most captivating live acts like Middle Name Dance Band and the JK Group, alongside some of our finest DJs including Christopher Port and DJ JNETT for one night only with a line-up that will mine the depths of jazz, groove, house and electronic vibrations into the early hours of the morning.
And MIJF’s iconic Late Night Jams are back at the JazzLab every night of the festival inviting audiences to shake loose and get down after hours, with spontaneous, all-improvised and unrepeatable Festival-only sessions led by local legends The Rookies.
Consistently a highlight of the Festival, these jam sessions celebrate everything we love about jazz, with Melbourne’s local jazz community and international artists mingling on and off the stage.
- Solomon Sisay
- Black Jesus Experience
- Enushu Taye
- I Hold the Lion’s Paw
- La Influencia (Salvador Persico and Daniel Mougerman)
- Harriett Allcroft
- Bernard Alexander
- Harry Morrison
- Patrick Danao
- Doutta Galla
- Soft Power
The Melbourne International Jazz Festival will extend through the city’s west once more in 2022 with a series of free live performances in partnership with Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley City Councils. The Footscray Library Forecourt will be transformed into a breezy outdoor jazz club over the festival’s opening weekend. On Saturday night it’s all about Afro-Jazz and pop-up bars followed by a laid back Sunday for the whole family, with an afternoon of Afro-Cuban beats.
Saturday sees performances from local-Ethio saxophonist Solomon Sisay who shot to fame playing for Axumite Band, a legendary outfit in Ethiopia. Now based in Melbourne, his star has continued to rise both locally and internationally. Then Melbourne’s famed Black Jesus Experience, the 10-piece Ethio-funk supertrip, whose sound is a danceable alloy of traditional Ethiopian song and 21st century groove, kick the party into gear, paired with the unique voice and insightful truth of Ethiopia’s Enushu Taye.
Sunday in Footscray gets going with Kidstruments Live!. Who says the adults have the best ideas? Kidstruments takes the imagined instruments of bright young minds developed in an interactive Melbourne Fringe workshop and turns them into real-life musical gadgets. They make their debut played by jazz collective I Hold the Lion’s Paw. Afro-Cuban powerhouse La Influencia, the brainchild of Salvador Persico (Blue King Brown) and Daniel Mougerman (The Bamboos) will then perform a heady concoction of original music, mixed with the music of modern Cuban legends Alain Perez and Havana D’Primera.
And in eight free live performances throughout the City of Moonee Valley, guest programmer Flora Carbo takes over your local and curates Melbourne’s finest jazz, soul and RnB talent with a series of shows in some of city’s best loved local cafes and bars.
At Fancy Parrot, Harriett Allcroft and her band perform original contemporary jazz with trademark playfulness and whimsy. Playing arrangements of swing tunes and jazz standards, Bernard Alexander (saxophones), Harry Morrison (bass) and Patrick Danao (drums) perform at Biagios; and at Doutta Galla Melbourne trio Soft Power, led by guitarist/composer Matthew Roche will provide their soundtrack to a not-so-distant utopian world.
Explore the full program at www.melbournejazzz.com