Weekend commencing
28 October 2022

Media Release: Full program of artists announced

Pheeroan akLaff (US) with Chloe Kim (Aus) and Maria Moles (Aus)
Iro Haarla (Fin) Tamara Murphy (Aus) and James McLean (Aus)
Rebecca Barnard, Ray Beadle, Jimi Hocking’s Blues Machine, Andrea Keller,
Alison Ferrier & Shorty, Karen Lee Andrews, Dan Barnett
Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts and OTHERS

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues announces the final line-up of spectacular international and homegrown artists for a jam packed, weekend of music, in its highly anticipated return from 28–30 October.

The festival curated world premiere collaboration between New York based drummer Pheeroan akLaff, Sydney drummer Chloe Kim and Melbourne drummer Maria Moles is a thrilling addition to the program. akLaff has performed and recorded with numerous American Jazz luminaries including Andrew Hill, Cecil Taylor and Wadada Leo Smith.

In another world premiere international collaboration, Finnish pianist Iro Haarla presents a program of her evocative compositions with Melbourne’s Tamara Murphy and James McLean.

The 2022 program will have traditional jazz lovers enthralled with performances from Dan Barnett’s Swing Rocket, Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts, the Syncopators, Chonk, Eamon McNelisSkellingtons and a very special celebratory tribute by Rebecca Barnard to her beloved father Len and uncle Bob, both Australian jazz royalty.

Barnard will also perform with legendary Hammond organist, Tim Neal in Jazz Mass, with Neal set to play the spectacular Willis pipe-organ in the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Renowned Australian Saxophonist, Julien Wilson, debuts his new solo project within the same divine venue.

In another jazz program highlight, prolific musician Andrea Keller once again showcases her ingenuity with her sweet, tender compositions in PATsy – the music of piano, alto, trombone and squeezebox.

The Blues program continues to grow with rollicking performances from Jimi Hocking (Screaming Jets) & his Blues Machine and the supremely popular guitarist and vocalist Ray Beadle with his band.   Duo Alison Ferrier & Shortybring their folk, rockin’ blues and bruising electric guitar riffs to the stage whilst Wangaratta Festival debutant, Karen Lee Andrews presents a beautiful program of classic soul infused blues informed by her Polynesian background.

Other newly announced artists include Angela Davis Quintet, Ball Hanlon Schulz, Fran Swinn Quintet, Jiem, Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Raphael Karlen Quintet feat. Jo Lawry, Sam Anning and Natasha Fearnside, Sam Keevers and Christopher Hale, Showa 44, Soylent Green, Stephen Magnusson Trio.

Co-Artistic Directors Eugene Ball and Scott Solimo have curated a rich and adventurous program bursting with world premieres, inspired Australian/international collaborations, festival commissions and performances from our country’s finest musicians spanning the jazz and blues genre.

“We are rapt that the Festival is to be live, in situ this year. We have developed a program that responds to the diverse musical demands of our audience, and we are proud that each artist and band is at the top of their niche across the spectrum of music on offer,” said Eugene Ball.

Other festival highlights include, previously announced, world premiere presentations of Finnish musicians Kari Ikonnen’s collaboration with Melbourne-based bassist Helen Svoboda;

Austrian based Brazilian composer/ guitarist, Emiliano Sampaio collaborative iteration of his renowned Mereau nonete, featuring musicians from Brazil, Germany and Australia and First Nations musician and songwriter Jess Hitchcock’s (Kate Miller-Heidke, Paul Kelly, Short Black Opera) project featuring new arrangements of lesser known jazz standards and originals.

Set to celebrate their 30th anniversary at the festival is crowd favourite Wanderlust whilst Scott Tinkler gathers together Australia’s finest improvisers in the Antripodean Collective and powerhouse collaborative ensemble, This World, brings together the awe-inspiring talents of Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart, Julien Wilson and Jonathan Schwartz.

Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows, Checkerboard Lounge (Carl PannuzzoShannon BourneTim Neal and Zoe Frater), Rob Susz (Dynamic Hypnotics), The Continental Blues Party and This Way North featuring the explosive energy and expansive sounds of Leisha Jungalwalla and Cat Leahy and Fiona Boyes with her band, The Fortune Tellers, are all set to light up the Merriwa Park Outdoor Stage

Experimental jazz artists hailing from Queensland Shamin, featuring Sophie Min (piano) and Benjamin Shannon (drums) make their festival debut as does Tasmania’s Julius Schwing Trio.  2021 National Jazz Awards winner, pianist Matthew Thomson will perform with his Sydney trio comprising of 2018 NJA winner Alex Hirlian on drums and Jacques Emery on bass.

The National Jazz Awards, which each year focusses on one instrument, 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.  They will be supported by James McLean on drums, Brett Hirst on bass, and creating NJA history they will be joined by a vocalist, with Jo Lawry taking to the stage.

This year the Community Stage will take place on the Sunday in the Merriwa Park Outdoor Stage offering a full day of scintillating performances from Horns of Leroy and Thando (The Voice) with local community players, Ali McGregor presents Jazzamatazz for the children and Dan Barnett joins popular local big band Jazzaratta.  A number of community bands will also take to the stage throughout the day.

Mammoth ensemble, the 17-piece Public Opinion Afro Orchestra will bring the festival to a spectacular close with a rousing set of contemporary African funk.

It’s fantastic to see this program come together. Eugene and Scott have flexed and bent with the wind over the last few years, and this program is testament to their respective ears for the audience, and their ability to put together a diverse mix of opportunities for the patrons, who we can’t wait to welcome back to the Festival,” said Festival Chair, Dave Fuller. 

Fuller also acknowledged the terrific response from the businesses of Wangaratta offering their venues for exciting pop-up performances across the weekend.  Partner venue line ups and session times will be finalised in coming weeks.

The Festival is returning with a strong COVID safe plan in place and patrons should note that capacity limits will exist for some venues. Programming is subject to change.