Phillip Island Jazz Festival

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Phillip Island Jazz Festival

With the 10th Phillip Island Jazz Festival nearing in November, I caught up with Robin Blackman, organiser and musical director for the increasingly popular jazz festival. Robin Blackman and the community of Phillip Island are gearing up for a huge festival, with more bands this year than ever before, as well as a few more added surprises to the program. Just one of the many things to look forward to is the gospel hour with Beverley Sheehan and the Creole Bells Revival Band that will kick off Sunday’s festivities. There’s also plenty of new groups to be seen this year, like the Ruby Page Sextet who will be kicking things off on the Friday, a really top group featuring a gentleman by the name of Joe Roberto on keyboard, one of the best keyboard players in Australia. Worth taking note of too, says Robin, are “the Simontologists, who have just returned from a tour of Germany, which is a fair indication of how good they are. They’ve only been around for a couple of years; kicking things off at the 2013 festival in Noosa, they are going gangbusters at the moment.”
Being the 10th birthday means there are some more things to look forward to – more bands for one, a wider range of styles than previous years, and the renaming of the resort restaurant to the ‘Gourlay Piano Bar’, which will see Bruce Gourlay, the pianist himself, play during the Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch services.
Jazz lovers are in for a real treat when the likes of Geoff Power, one of Australia’s leading brass musicians, hits the stage throughout the festival with Mike Edwards, John Adams, Mark Elton and Ron Sandilands. If you’re headed to the festival, another group to be on the lookout for is Ultrafox, a gypsy jazz band who are kicking goals in the genre at the moment.
The Phillip Island Jazz Festival also supports the local musical community by holding a presentation on the Saturday to recognise and support young, budding musicians. Two students from the Newhaven College Music Department and the Wonthaggi Secondary College Music Department will be presented with an award as an aim to encourage the musical studies and interests in young people. The award will be presented by Geoff Power, who is a mentor to all college big bands in NSW. “Geoff is a very outgoing and accommodating person who will take plenty of time to chat with them, give them encouragement and answer any questions they may have.”
After 10 years, Robin attributes the growing success and love for the festival to the commitment of the committee, as well as the sponsors who support the festival every year. He admits that “we’re a one stage festival, which means you really have to be spot on with the groups that you choose otherwise people will vote with their feet. Most of the groups who play are recognised Australia-wide and play festivals Australia-wide too. It’s been a long hard grind to get it to where it is now but we believe it’s one of the better festivals in Victoria.”
For a full line-up and other attractions, check out the new and interactive website which allows you to preview some tunes before you head along. Robin is also always up for a chat, so feel free to drop him a line to talk all things jazz and the Phillip Island Jazz Festival.
When&Where: Ramada Resort Phillip Island – November 21, 22 & 23
By Montana Agustin