Pictured: Elio Villafranca (Photo: Kasia Idzkowska)

Presenting music that is never played the same way twice, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival takes over the city with a 10-day program filled with premieres, Australian exclusives and international collaborations from 31 May to 9 June 2019.

Delivering some of the greatest musicians from all over the globe, local Australian legends, and events for everyone from the first-time jazz visitor, to the life-long lover, the annual festival will feature more than 500 Australian, international and emerging artists in over 25 iconic venues, concert halls, bars and outdoor spaces across Melbourne and surrounding suburbs.

Hosting the twenty-second Festival program, this year’s list of performers includes jazz genius Herbie Hancock; piano virtuoso Billy Childs; power-house vocalist Lisa Fischer; national jazz treasure Vince Jones; acclaimed bassist and composer Linda May Han Oh with her new work Aventurine; as well as Laura Mvula, José James and Troy Miller re-imagining George Gershwin with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Other visiting international artists include trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire with an Australian exclusive of his politically charged new album: Origami Harvest; Ghost-Note led by Snarky Puppy’s multi-GRAMMY-winning percussion duo Robert “Sput” Searight and Nate Werth; visionary pianist, composer and musical thinker Vijay Iyer and his Trio; and Festival favourite Bill Frisell Trio returning with their distinctive melodic style.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival Artistic Director Michael Tortoni explained that music is a way of life, “Jazz is a powerful communicator globally – it connects everyone: children, young people, older people and individuals from all communities, races and gender.”

“I’m extremely proud of our international reputation. We have so many great musicians from across the globe who want to be part of our inclusive Festival,” said Tortoni.

Pictured: Angela Davis Trio

The Festival encourages anyone new to jazz to get involved – little music lovers will be introduced into jazz with a family-friendly performance by ARIA recipient Justine Clarke at The Melba Spiegeltent, while Nocturnal at the Melbourne Museum takes a jazz twist with a line up of dynamite acts including Jazz Party, Horns of Leroy featuring Thando and Tanya George.

One unique aspect of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is the Jazz Out West program, curated by MzRizk, who has organised a range of free events in Footscray, Moonee Ponds and Maribyrnong. Talking about the edgy program, MzRizk says it was devised as a way of delivering a different and a more beautiful experience for the audience.

“The program tries to reflect how jazz is changing in 2019. And how Jazz has since the 20's, 30's has forever been evolving. You cannot put Jazz in a corner or a box, and often with the right skills, the output isn’t what someone would think is Jazz, be it by reaching into their own cultural heritage or other cultural influences.”

“Jazz is what you want it to be - it cannot be defined. And young performers are adding to the tree and branches.”

Impressed that so many of last year’s events were a sell-out success, MzRizk says this year’s events are likely to have the same high-quality acts that people want to see.

Offering the high-vibe events that don’t just offer Jazz but also a good day, she encourages all members of the public to see the full program – especially Jazz Out West, which is free and accessible to everyone.

“We wanted to make sure that there are events and music accessible to people with all kinds of budgets.”

See the full program of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival on their website here!


Dates: 31 May – 9 June 2019

Location: More than 25 venues & 30 plus free events

Times: Varies. See website for details

Melbourne Jazz International Festival Website