Melbourne International Jazz Festival returns with 400 artists in extensive 2022 program

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Melbourne International Jazz Festival returns with 400 artists in extensive 2022 program

Fat Freddy's Drop

Heralding a ten-day city-wide celebration of the diversity and dynamism of jazz, Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) is back with its first international line-up since 2019.

In huge news for the region, The Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) has announced a packed lineup for its return this October, with more than 400 artists set to perform over 10 days.

Taking place from October 14 until October 23, more than 85 awe-inspiring events will be held across the city’s arenas, clubs, bars, and parks of Melbourne with MIJF’s first international lineup in three years.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2022 dates 

  • Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) 2022 will run from 14 – 23 October
  • The festival will feature 400 artists and the first international lineup in three years
  • It will be staged at venues across the city, with Lalah Hathaway the major headliner

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Here’s some of the festival highlights:

Lalah Hathaway

Over two incredible nights at Hamer Hall, co-presented with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, MIJF presents living legend of R&B, soul and jazz: 5-time Grammy Award winner, Lalah Hathaway (USA), performing in Australia for the very first time. Known for her powerful vocals and mesmerising range, Hathaway has shared the stage with a host of music royalty including Prince, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock and collaborated with modern heavyweights Pharrell Williams, Dr. Dre, Snarky Puppy, Robert Glasper and Esperanza Spalding. The ‘First Daughter of Soul’ and the MSO will honour the legacy and work of her illustrious father—singer, arranger, composer and soul music legend, Donny Hathaway.

Al Di Meola

Sitting firmly among the greatest guitarists of our time, Al Di Meola (USA) comes to Melbourne with a celebrated international career spanning almost five decades and numerous Grammy awards under his belt. A pioneer of blending jazz with musical styles from around the world, Di Meola’s dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who regularly flock to his concerts.


In his only Australian performance MonoNeon, one of the most revered electric bassists of his generation, brings his progressive blend of southern soul, funk, jazz and blues to 170 Russell along with his hard-hitting 5-piece band. Among the last musicians to work with Prince, the US experimentalist has been described as “the greatest electric bass player” by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his extensive list of collaborators also includes Bootsy Collins, NAS, Ghost-Note, John Madeski and Jacob Collier.

Melissa Aldana

Grammy-nominated saxophonist Melissa Aldana is something of a trailblazer—she is both the first South American and the first female to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition. The Brooklyn-based tenor player from Santiago will bring her remarkable quartet to MIJF to perform music from her acclaimed 2022 Blue Note album 12 Stars.

Big Saturday

Kicking off the festival’s huge opening weekend, MIJF’s previously announced Big Saturday sees international heavyweights Fat Freddy’s Drop headlining a mammoth line-up and taking over the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in a sundrenched, day-long celebration of jazz, funk and soul.

For over two decades on stage, Fat Freddy’s Drop have navigated their way from the incubator of sunshine reggae through a colour-saturated field of soul psychedelia before swerving onto a desolate Detroit superhighway at night. Over a massive two-hour set, this world-renowned eight-piece from New Zealand will be bringing their potent mix of jazz virtuosity and diaphragm-wrecking digital sonics.

Home-grown funk and soul pioneers, The Bamboos, join the bill to perform songs from their tenth studio album, Hard Up, and favourites from their 21 years together. Siren of soul Emma Donovan joins stone-cold pros The Putbacks—the players behind Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, The Meltdown and more—to form one of the tightest and most dynamic collaborations in town.

Completing the Big Saturday line-up, The Cat Empire’s founding firebrand trumpet-playing vocalist Harry James Angus collaborates with drummer Freyja Hooper in a duo whose sound is marked by hypnotic rhythms and complete harmonic freedom.

Dan Tepfer at the Planetarium

In a truly unique festival-only experience, audiences will experience Melbourne’s Planetarium like never before when pioneering USA jazz innovator Dan Tepfer brings his Natural Machines to MIJF. Proclaimed as “fascinating and ingenious” by Rolling Stone, Tepfer programs a Yamaha Disklavier, a state of the art, reproducing grand piano, to respond in real time to the music he improvises at the piano. All the while, stunning algorithmically generated animated visual art is projected onto the domed ceiling overhead.

Follow The Sun

For her second MIJF performance, and in a family-friendly premiere, acclaimed Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Emma Donovan presents her Follow the Sun show—a celebration of her country, kids, community and language.

Commissioned by ABC Kids (2022), Follow the Sun features original songs penned by Donovan, alongside much-loved classic children’s tunes such as ‘I Can Sing a Rainbow’ and ‘Once I Caught a Fish Alive’—each sung in Noongar and Gumbaynggirr languages. Interwoven with stories from Emma’s childhood and backed by an all-star band of Melbourne jazz legends, this will be a joyous Festival highlight for both parents and children alike.


In a special 30-year anniversary celebration at Chapel Off Chapel, ground-breaking all-female quintet Morgana will reunite to perform their hard-hitting, dynamic brand of jazz. Morgana showcases some of Australia’s most exciting musical trailblazers and living legends of the Melbourne scene including, Lisa YoungFiona BurnettAndrea KellerAnnette Yates and Sonja Horbelt – each member having independently made their own exceptional mark on Australian jazz over the past three decades.


And in a massive MIJF opening night performance, guitarist, songwriter and producer Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos, Rare Groove Spectrum) will bring his 10-piece band Menagerie to the Darebin Arts Centre. Inspired by the modal, post-Coltrane generation of the 70s, along with the current new wave of jazz greats like Kamasi Washington and Nubya Garcia, Menagerie will perform from their acclaimed third album Many Worlds.

Export Series

At Chapel Off Chapel, MIJF’s Export Series – supported by The Vizard Foundation – showcases the very best of Australian jazz for festival audiences right here in Melbourne.

Bringing the best of piano-driven jazz and groove-focused electronic music together to create an extraordinary sonic experience, Brekky Boy will astonish Melbourne audiences once more. After electrifying crowds at MIJF 2019, the Montreux Jazz Award-nominated trio are return to MIJF with their powerhouse cinematic jazz rock.

One of Australia’s most virtuosic and respected improvising musicians, electric bassist Christopher Hale returns to MIJF ten years after releasing his critically acclaimed album Sylvan Coda. His latest recording, Ritual Diamonds is a cross-cultural collaborative work featuring percussionist/composer Minyoung Woo. Hale’s signature melodies are interwoven with the shimmering, complex rhythms of Woo’s innovative reassembly of Korean shamanic drumming languages.

Featuring a diverse line-up of some of Sydney’s finest musicians, the ARIA-nominated Zela Margossian Quintet will hit Melbourne riding high on the back of their critically acclaimed 2022 release, The Road (Ropeadope Records, USA). Margossian has garnered international attention in recent years for her kaleidoscopic original works and arrangements carrying influences from Armenian traditional music, melded with jazz and classical roots.

And all this is barely scraping the surface!! There’s also intimate gigs and late-night jams every night of the festival at MIJF’s spiritual home: The JazzLab, MIJF’s iconic Late Night Jams, while The Melbourne International Jazz Festival will extend through the city’s west once more in 2022 with a series of free live performances in partnership with Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley City Councils.

Audiences will also be able to get up close and personal with the some of the world’s leading jazz artists in a free series of intimate conversations and enlightening panels hosted by Arts Centre Melbourne. Scheduled panels include talks from Christopher Hale and Minyoung Woo (Aus/South Korea)Al Di Meola (USA) and Dan Tepfer (USA), Multicultural Arts Victoria as well as music industry health and wellbeing advocacy group Support Act.

Explore the full program at