Artistic Directors' Statement
We’ve hand-curated world-premiere projects and collaborations, including a new work by U.S. drummer, Pheeroan akLaff with Australia’s Chloe Kim and Maria Moles. Finnish pianist, Iro Haarla, will present a program of her evocative compositions with Melbourne’s Tamara Murphy and James McLean. Saxophonist, Julien Wilson, will debut his new solo project in the glorious Holy Trinity Cathedral.
There’s plenty on offer for traditional jazz lovers, with Dan Barnett’s Swing Rocket, Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts, the Syncopators, Chonk, Eamon McNelis’ Skellingtons, and a celebratory tribute by Rebecca Barnard to her beloved father Len and uncle Bob; both Australian jazz royalty.
The National Jazz Award is open to guitarists this year. The five most outstanding young players from around the country will converge on Wangaratta to compete for the prestigious award, but also to celebrate all things guitar. They’ll be supported by James McLean on drums, Brett Hirst on bass, and, creating NJA history, vocalist, Jo Lawry.
The blues program continues to grow with the extremely popular and talented guitarist and vocalist Ray Beadle with his band. A debut performance at Wangaratta by vocalist/guitarist Karen Lee Andrews is something that you do not want to miss. She will present a program of classic soul infused blues from her native Polynesian background. Jimi Hocking (Screaming Jets) & his Blues Machine will add some rocking blues to the stage. Another act not to be missed is the extremely talented duo, Alison Ferrier & Shorty showcasing an evocative and emotive crafted collection of atmospheric folk, laid-back country, rock ‘n’ roll, and rockin’ blues, boosted by her bruising electric guitar riffs.
This year the Community Stage will take place on the Sunday in the Merriwa Park Outdoor Stage. It will be a full day of performances. The Horns of Leroy including Thando with local community players will be a feature. Ali McGregor’s ‘Jazzamatazz’ will entertain the kids with her jazz show. Dan Barnett will feature with popular local big band Jazzaratta. And, the finale is nothing but spectacular with the 17-piece Public Opinion Afro Orchestradelivering an enthralling set of contemporary African funk.