In a massive 10 days of music and art, Stonnington Jazz celebrate their 13th year on the Melbourne events calendar with a program that is dripping in a variety of artistic mediums. Returning as artistic director, Chelsea Wilson has devoted many hours to compiling this year’s program, incorporating contemporary dance, visual art, film and spoken word to deliver a unique experience to ticket goers. With so many incredible jazz artists within the community and beyond, Stonnington Jazz provides a creative platform for musicians and industry professionals to gather and commemorate the growing landscape of this reputable genre. We chat to artistic director Chelsea about her hopes and goals for the event.
What motivated you to return as artistic director?
I really love the Stonnington Jazz festival, it’s one of my favourite events on the Melbourne cultural calendar. There’s a few things I really love about it. Firstly, that it promotes all local music. I think it’s incredible that the city of Stonnington supports home-grown, artistic talent. As jazz is a niche genre, which is often underrepresented in mainstream media and events, it’s important we recognise it. Australia have some of the best jazz artists in the world so this festival is close to my heart in the way that it shines a light on some of the most talented performers in Australia. It’s an honour to curate the line-up.
How does this year’s program differ from last year’s?
I think one point of difference this year is that I really wanted to play with bringing in other artistic mediums to the jazz genre. I wanted to incorporate different elements of film, spoken words and lighting. Jazz is a real improvisational genre and the music reflects the surrounding environment and how musicians interact and play with each other is a real signature of jazz. I wanted to provide an opportunity for musicians to collaborate with art forms. I think jazz listeners generally are a pretty open minded crew. I think people who go and see jazz gigs like all kinds of music and all kinds of things. I hope it’s a program that continues to build awareness of the great talent that we have in the area and around Australia.
You’ve had some huge names in jazz sign on to perform over the course of the festival. What does it mean to have Judy Bailey a part of the program for the first time?
I’m really excited. Judy Bailey is an icon of Australian jazz and it’s fantastic to have her as a part of the program. Not only is she doing a show for us and bringing her band with her from Sydney, she’s also doing a performance workshop for us so people can head along to that and learn from her directly which is pretty amazing.
Anything you’re super pumped for?
The professional development series is something I’m particularly really excited about. It’s an incredible opportunity for musicians, people working in the music industry, people who want to enter the music industry or media to come along – it’s going to be a really excellent day of networking, panels, forums. There’s speed mentoring available for artists with panellists and for the first time, Stonnington’s bringing out an international jazz industry expert as our first jazz industry ambassador, Don Lucoff, who has worked with Blue Note and Kamasi Washington. I’m excited about this industry summit as it’s going to give a real opportunity for musicians to gain some insight into the behind the scenes of the industry – getting gigs, touring internationally, how to get their records etc.
Channel your inner Bleeding Gums Murphy, tighten those jazz shoes and make your way to this exciting event.
Stonnington Jazz runs from May 10 – 20. For more ticketing and event information, head to stonningtonjazz.com.au.
Written by Hannah Kenny