Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues has released a sneak peak of their adventurous and eclectic 2022 program, featuring Australia’s premier jazz and blues artists, inspired international collaborations and the annual National Jazz Awards, from Friday October 28 – Sunday October 30, 2022.
Festival Chair Dave Fuller said the festival is thrilled to see the return of live events and he acknowledged the significant impact the pandemic has had upon the arts.
“Our focus this year is on an Australian centric program that includes Australian expatriates returning from abroad and international artists in collaboration with Australians. We’ve taken the decision this year to announce part of the program early and to create an opportunity for people to register now for our limited release early bird tickets,” said Mr Fuller.
In a world premiere, First Nations 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 Ikonen returns for a world-premiere collaboration with Melbourne-based bassist, Helen Svoboda, and Austrian 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.
Festival favourites, 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 Antripodean Collective. The 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 artists, Queensland duo Shamin featuring Sophie Min (piano) and Benjamin Shannon (drums), and Tasmania’s Julius Schwing Trio.
2021 National Jazz Awards winner Matthew Thomson will perform with his Sydney trio comprising of 2018 NJA winner Alex Hirlian on drums and Jaques Emery on bass.
Each year the National Jazz Awards focuses on a particular instrument and the guitar will be in the spotlight this year. The prize pool includes cash and studio time along with national recognition. 2022 NJA entry details will be released over coming weeks.
The Merriwa Park Blues Stage is a hot bed of brass and scintillating sounds. The Black Sorrows will play their classic hits alongside songs from their latest blues album, and Australia’s Queen of Blues Fiona Boyes with her band, The Fortune Tellers, will light up the stage.
Melbourne’s very own 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 ont and centre, loud and proud,” said Co-Artistic Directors Eugene Ball and Scott Solimo.