Bold & Brassy


Slip into the sultry sounds of the 2018 Perth International Jazz Festival with director and local muso, Mace Francis, who debriefed us on this year’s notable line up.






What can Perth music lovers expect of the PIJF line up this year?

This year we have a really diverse range of performers from all over the world. There’ll be everything from one New York’s finest modern jazz quartets to an avante garde/free jazz duo from Japan, great skat jazz and soul vocalists, to a piano trio that will be electronically manipulated live. The diversity and the amount of the music available over the weekend is really exciting. There’s also a great line up of musicians from the east coast – the Sam Anning Sextet, Zac Hurran Quartet and Matt Jodrell Quartet and powerhouse quintet Speedball.

What’s different about the programming in 2018, as compared to past festivals?

We changed the date of the festival to be able to enjoy the glorious Perth spring weather and to align with the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and the Sydney Women’s International Jazz Festival. We have bought the festival back to the Perth Cultural Centre with the main festival hub being at the State Theatre Centre. This will allow a greater ease of getting from concert to concert and there are many nearby options to enjoy food and drinks over the weekend.

And what can festival-goers enjoy for free?

We’ve included more free events that allow our audiences a different experience, including ‘open rehearsals’, where you can watch the visiting and local musicians working together to create their festival performance. ‘Artist In Conversations’ will be a chance to hear from the artists themselves, talking about their life as a musician, their artistic practice and anecdotes from the road. There’ll also be the opportunity to participate in a free community jazz choir led by local jazz legend Libby Hammer. She will teach everyone a few songs over a few mornings and work towards a performance on the Sunday.

What are some of the acts you’re really excited about?

Some of the highlights for me will be the Melissa Aldana Quartet from New York. Melissa is an amazing tenor saxophonist and a rising star in the jazz scene and her band is equally as amazing! Composer, vocalist and conductor Sara McDonald will work with a local 22-piece jazz orchestra to bring her eclectic mix of jazz, funk, pop music to Perth. Japanese free jazz piano/trumpet duo Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura have been to the jazz festival before and always bring a new perspective on music and jazz. This year Satoko celebrates her 60th birthday and is releasing 12 albums recorded throughout the year. She is a powerhouse musician and an inspirational person. I’m also really excited about the Sam Anning Sextet, as it involves many of my favourite Australian musicians and of course, I’m looking forward to Speedball returning to Perth. I remember seeing some of their first gigs in Perth back in the early 2000’s. They were amazing then… wait unit you see them now!

And what are the local acts you’d encourage Perth to look out for?

There are a few local bands that are new to the festival. Bass player Nick Abbey has a new trio and new music with some of his regular musical collaborators, Chris Foster and Daniel Susnjar. Local jazz guitar legend Ray Walker’s trio will be a delight. Ray is a national treasure and still plays like his guitar was made without any wrong notes on it. Pianist Harry Mitchell will perform his new quartet music with Melbourne jazz heavy weights Julien Wilson and Sam Anning.

What’s the jazz scene like in Perth in general?

I think we have a great scene here in Perth, especially for our population size. Organisations like WA Youth Jazz Orchestra, the WA Academy of Performing Arts, The Ellington Jazz Club and the Perth Jazz Society keep the scene constantly refreshed with new talent and a place to play. Venues do come and go, but we have a pretty motivated scene to make sure new events are always happening.

What do you love personally about being a jazz musician in Perth?

Perth has been very kind to me since moving here in 2000. I stay here because of the people, the friends and colleagues I work with, and the lifestyle. You have to be motivated and forward thinking anywhere you live and work. I love to travel and I fall in love with many cities but I always do like coming back here to my musical family. This festival and WAYJO have stolen my heart!

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