Gypsy swing, hip-hop, Icelandic poetry and Bond villains… wait, can this really be the Melbourne International Jazz Festival? The festival’s artistic director, Michael Tortini, rattles off his must-see-shows and events.


774's Swing Noir (Aus)
“This is a themed evening at the Town Hall: a European jazz club full of the gypsy swing pioneered by Django Reinhardt and ably continued by Australian bands Ultrafox and Swingville. There's a dance lesson and a bar too. You must come dressed up to this one!”
Melbourne Town Hall
June 7 at 8pm.

Derrick Hodge plus Chris Turner (USA) – double bill
“It's really jazz at the forefront, contemporary music at the moment, it's where jazz is moving. Derrick Hodge plays bass for the Robert Glasper Experiment who have taken the world by storm. Using all of the influences of all of the artists he's performed with (Jill Scott, Maxwell, Kanye West, Common, Terence Blanchard) and all of the stuff he's done as one quarter of the Robert Glasper Experiment, he's released this debut album with Blue Note which I think is really extraordinary.”
The Forum
June 7 at 9pm
$59, $54 with concessions

Chris Dave and the Drumhedz (USA)
“Google some of his drumming! Chris' drumming puts him in a category of his own. And he's bringing a surprise lineup.”
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
May 31 at 8pm and 10pm, June 1 at 8pm and 10pm
$49, $43 with concessions

Dawn of Midi (USA)
“Their sound is sort of electronic but they’re using a standard jazz trio set up of bass, keys and drums. Their album Dysnomia was listed among the Best Albums of 2013 in The New Yorker, NPR and BBC 3. Ones to watch.”
(Performing with the Alister Spence Trio (Aus))
Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse
June 5 and June 6 at 9pm
From $30 to $45

Charles Lloyd Sky Trio (USA) and The Greek Project (USA/Greece)
“Charles first introduced the world to Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Cecil McBee with one of the all-time great jazz crossover quartets in the ’60s, and cemented himself as an international star. He remains an innovative force today, and his Sky Trio with Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland are one of the most fearless trios in jazz today. Charles is also bringing his incredible collaboration with Greek singer Maria Farantouri to Melbourne. It's a groundbreaking project combining jazz artists with classical Greek musicians and will be a really extraordinary Festival event.”
Charles Lloyd Sky Trio
Melbourne Recital Centre
May 30 at 7:30pm
From $68 to $82
The Greek Project
Melbourne Town Hall
June 1 at 7:30pm
From $61 to $109

“Both Chick Corea and Larry Carlton are masters of their instruments and have broken a lot of ground. Workshops are specifically for musicians, but for musicians of any kind as they'll learn techniques from Chick who is a piano legend and has won 20 Grammy Awards, and Larry who as a session musician has recorded on more than 100 gold albums, played with some of the most popular musicians (Joni Mitchell, The Crusaders, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr.) and is now making a name for himself as a solo artist.”
Chick Corea (USA)
The Langham
June 8 at midday
Larry Carlton (USA)
Federation Hall, Victorian College of the Arts
June 3 at 10:30am

Trichotomy at Bennetts Lane is a Brisbane-based group, playing with British sax player Julian Argüelles. [This is an] opportunity to see a great collaboration with a well-regarded international artist. Fem Belling will be an accessible show for people that don't always listen to jazz, it's a theatrically based show, there's a story.”
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
May 30 at 10.30pm
$35, $30 with concessions
Dear Blossom (Fem Belling)
Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse
June 5 at 7pm
From $30 to $39

Tilman Robinson is such fresh talent too. He's presenting the world premiere of his composition The Agony of Knowledge, an exploration of the Icelandic epic poem Volsungasaga, created for the festival through the PBS Young Elder of Jazz Commission.”
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
May 30 at 8pm
$25, $20 with concessions

Robert Davi's tribute to Frank Sinatra. Robert is probably most familiar as a Hollywood actor, the bad guy in The Goonies, James Bond's License to Kill and Die Hard, but he's also a classically-trained singer. He knew and loved Frank Sinatra and his tribute is magnificent. Quincy Jones said that Robert "brought back the essence and soul of Ol' Blue Eyes himself."
Palais Theatre
June 7 at 8pm
From $79 to $109

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival runs from May 30 to June 8. For the full program and tickets, see the festival website.