Tag Archives: Merimbula Jazz Festival

All that Jazz at MJF!

The iconic Merimbula Jazz Festival kicks off next Friday 8 June and some great bands and performers from Canberra are on the program. Here’s a taste of who you can find when you’re down there.

Love a bit of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, or Tommy Dorsey? You can reminisce about the Swing Era and get your toes tapping to the following Canberra Big Bands.

ConneXion Big Band—directed by Sally Greenaway and with some of Canberra’s top musos and vocalists, ConneXion’s repertoire goes from the 40s and Glenn  Miller through to the 80s and James Bond. You can find ConneXion at the Auditorium Club Sapphire at 5pm 9 June.

traXion Big Band—together for over 10 years traXion plays a range of swing from Count Basie to modern and movie themes. traXion are at the Auditorium at 9pm 9 June, and the RSL at 4pm on 10 June.

In Full Swing—formed in 1991, In Full Swing starts in the big band era of the 30s and 40s through to contemporary funk, rock, and smooth jazz. In Full Swing will be swinging at the RSL at 6pm 9 June, and again at 5pm on Sunday 10 June.

Blamey Street Big Band—directed by Canberra vocalist and classical pianist Leisa Keen, Blamey Street plays music from all eras with a particular fondness for the 1930s. Former musical directors include Ian McLean and Derrick Brassington, and vocalists Tony Haley, Rachel Thorne and Annette Sloan. Blamey Street will be at the RSL at 2pm on 9 June, and the Auditorium at 1pm on 10 June.

traXion Big Band. Image courtesy traXion

If you’re into the more intimate music of small combos, duos or trios, check out In2Deep with vocalist Rachel Thorne and pianist/composer Mike Dooley. Covering jazz standards and original swing and soul composed by Dooley, this brilliant duo received a standing ovation at MJF last year. In2Deep will also launch their new album, A Good Man is Hard to Find, at MJF. You can find this one good man (and woman) at the Auditorium at 8pm on Saturday 9 June, and the Sapphire Room at 2pm Sunday 10 June which also includes their CD launch.

In2Deep. Courtesy In2Deep

And now for something completely different … if you want to hear a full choir perform jazz and swing, get over to the Auditorium at 7pm on Saturday, or the Sapphire Room at 3pm Sunday and have a listen to Rhythm Syndicate. This group has been performing around the Canberra region for almost 30 years, and at Merimbula for 14 years. If you can’t catch their Sapphire Club gigs, they will also performing some gospel—with a twist—at the Ecumenical Jazz Service at St Joseph’s Catholic Church at 11.30am on Sunday.

Rhythm Syndicate at the High Court Canberra with soprano Louise Page

Merimbula Jazz Festival is now in its 38th year and gets bigger every year! The Festival also includes the Jazz Dance on Thursday 7 June, the Jazz Hatters Party (formerly the picnic) on Monday 11 June, the Street Parade on Saturday morning, and the Jazz Quest for young (under 25) upcoming musicians at the Lakeview Hotel on Saturday evening.

For more information and full Festival program visit their website or Facebook page.

Find Merimbula accommodation here.

In Full Swing at Merimbula. Courtesy In Full Swing

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Apples with Rhythm

LFW took a drive out to the country on the weekend, and joined the sunshine, crowds, apples, and music at Loriendale Orchard Apple Day on Saturday 1 April.

loriendale-orchard-apple

Image: Apple and Pear Australia Limited

Loriendale is a boutique orchard with over 120 varieties of apples, as well as selection of nectarines, peaches, nashi pears, berries and nuts. The orchard runs organic best practice, which means that the fruit actually tastes like the fruit you may remember from your childhood, before all the GM, gassing, spraying, and cold storage. Apple pies, toffee apples, jams, jellies, chutneys, sauces and relishes were also on offer, together with amazing apple based afternoon teas for just a few dollars.Loriendale peach jam

The farm was purchased by the Pidgeon family in 1982 but it wasn’t until around 1997 that the apple and cherry trees were planted, and the orchard was established. The farm is also a WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) hosting farm; providing the opportunity for young people, from around the world, to live and work on the farm and learn about agriculture, farming, and a bit of Australian culture.

Paul Herbert on flute

Rhythm Syndicate with Paul Herbert on flute

But, one of the best things about the Apple Day was sitting in the sun with our afternoon tea, and listening to some cool jazz from local group Rhythm Syndicate. This great vocal group has been performing in Canberra and the region since 1990, and offers a mix of cool jazz, gospel, classics, and popular.

Accommpanist and composer Mike Dooley

Accompanist and composer Mike Dooley

The mixed group sings in four-part harmony, accompanied and a cappella, and includes talented muso and vocalist Paul Herbert on harmonica and flute, brilliant pianist and composer Mike Dooley, and is pulled together by director and conductor Camilo Gonzalez. You can hear them next at the Merimbula Jazz Festival over the June long weekend.

Loriendale RS1

Rhythm Syndicate with conductor Camilo Gonzalez

Loriendale Orchard, Carrington Road, Hall www.loriendale.com.au. You can also find Loriendale at Capital Region Farmers Market every Saturday from 7.30 – 11,30am.

Rhythm Syndicate www.rhythmsyndicate.com.au.

Images by LFW except where indicated

 

 

It’s JAZZ time on the Sapphire Coast!

The Merimbula Jazz Festival celebrates 36 years of jazz this year. That’s right! Thirty-six years of swinging, singing, and stomping on the Sapphire Coast over the June long weekend, and it’s getting bigger every year! By Aine Dowling

MJF Ball

As well as some fantastic jazz from great performers from Canberra, Victoria, and New South Wales, there are two main features of the Festival this year. First up is the black tie event; the Jazz Festival Ball on Thursday 9 June at Club Sapphire where you can dance the night away to the Festival All Stars, enjoy a great cabaret show, and relax with a glass of bubbles and yummy three course meal; all included in the ticket price. Bookings for the ball are essential.

Another fantastic initiative is the Jazz Quest which has been running for the past four years and has been a huge success. The Quest is open to musicians aged 25 years and under, and its aim is to encourage young and up-coming musicians in the world of jazz, and to help their musical development along with competitive experience. Two of the previous winners include singer Liam Budge, and jazz pianist Kade Brown—both of whom have gone on to huge success and acclaim in their fields, with Kade selected for the Julliard Winter School as both student and mentor.

Jazz Quest 2015 Winners

Jazz Quest 2015 Winners

The Quest is held at the Lakeview Hotel at the end of the Saturday night program. Judges usually include five of the top musicians at the Festival who view the performances of each competitor. There are a number of categories including confidence in performance, technical ability, entertainment value, and the ability to perform different styles and instruments through two different performances to show their ability. Cash prizes are awarded to the winners, and second and third placements, and both the Quest (and the prize money) goes a long way to help the career of young jazz musicians around Australia.

The popular jam session follows the Quest and gives everyone the chance to get on stage and perform with all sorts of musos and singers. If you can keep the pace going until 2am you’re welcome to join in the fun!

The Jazz Festival runs from Friday night (10 June) until Sunday night at four main venues around the town, and local Canberra acts heading down for the weekend include smooth jazz duo In 2 Deep; check them out if you can.

In 2 Deep - photo by Hot Shots Photography

In 2 Deep – photo by Hot Shots Photography

Big bands include Connextion Big Band, In Full Swing, and the Royal Military College Big Band, plus some terrific school bands. Vocal ensembles include Rhythm Syndicate (who also perform at the ecumenical Gospel Church Service on the Sunday), and Shades of Monday, and you can check out some great swing dancing from Canberra Swing Katz.

If you like the south coast and you love jazz … what more could you want?

Get more info on the Merimbula Jazz Festival from their website or Facebook page.

MJF1

Cool Canberra Jazz …

… In the Vines Grape_Vine02

In a past life I was somewhat involved in music and jazz and performed around the Canberra region. Earlier this year I visited the Merimbula Jazz Festival (for a jazz hit and a bit of nostalgia), and found a few terrific Canberra performers well worth seeing if you get the chance. My original article appeared in Surya Magazine, but I’ve been following these bands and thought it was time to update their news, and flag some upcoming awesome gigs, and special events, including a few at local wineries!

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