Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues has released a sneak peak of its adventurous and eclectic 2022 program, featuring Australia's premier jazz and blues artists, inspired international collaborations and the annual National Jazz Awards.
The event, which runs from October 28-30, will have a proudly Australian-centric program as expatriates return and overseas stars team up with local artists .
In a world premiere, Indigenous musician and songwriter Jess Hitchcock (Kate Miller-Heidke, Paul Kelly, Short Black Opera) revisits her jazz roots in a festival-curated project of new arrangements of lesser known standards and originals.
Finnish pianist Kari Ikon returns for a world-premiere collaboration with Melbourne bassist Helen Svoboda, while Austria-based Brazilian composer/guitarist Emiliano Sampaio brings to the festival a collaborative iteration of his renowned Mereau nonete, featuring players from Brazil, Germany and Australia.
Wanderlust convene from across Australia to celebrate their 30th anniversary at the festival. The always imaginative and innovative Scott Tinkler brings together a collection of Australia's finest improvisers in the form of the Antripodean Collective. Powerhouse collaborative ensemble This World draws together the awe-inspiring talents of Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart, Julien Wilson and Jonathan Schwartz.
Making their festival debut are experimental jazz duo Shamin, featuring Queenslanders Sophie Min (piano) and Benjamin Shannon (drums). Tasmania's Julius Schwing Trio will also step up for the first time.
2021 National Jazz Awards winner pianist Matthew Thomson will perform with his Sydney trio, also comprising 2018 NJA winner Alex Hirlian on drums and Jacques Emery on bass.
Each year the awards focus on a particular instrument and this time it's the guitar in the spotlight. The prize pool includes cash and studio time along with national recognition. Entry details will be released over coming weeks.
The Merriwa Park Blues Stage is a hotbed of brass and scintillating sounds. The Black Sorrows will play their classic hits alongside songs from their latest blues album, while blues queen Fiona Boyes will light up the stage.with her band, The Fortune Tellers,
Melbourne's Checkerboard Lounge is set to deliver its dynamic take on classic blues, soul and originals. This festival favourite outfit is made up of singing drummer Carl Pannuzzo, guitar master Shannon Bourne, Hammond virtuoso Tim Neal and uber-musical bassist, Zoe Frater.
Other Blues program highlights include Rob Susz (Dynamic Hypnotics) with his funky blues and soul combo, The Continental Blues Party, and This Way North (Best Regional Act 2018 - The Age Music Victoria Awards) featuring the explosive energy and expansive sounds of Leisha Jungalwalla and Cat Leahy.
The festival culminates in a free event in Merriwa Park showcasing musicians from the Wangaratta community and surrounds, collaborating with funky New Orleans brass band Horns of Leroy and Zimbabwe-born star on the rise Thando for a joyous celebration of brass and groove.
"Australian musicians are among the best in the world. We simply have a unique and bold way of making jazz and blues in this country, and it's time to put our creators front and centre, loud and proud," said Co-Artistic Directors Eugene Ball and Scott Solimo.
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