News Stories – Live jazz music on the rise in Melbourne

This news story was produced as an assessment for online journalism on a group assessed blog called Live Music On Our Mind. Published 12/05/2010.

By Lillian Altman

Thousands of jazz fans jammed with Australian trumpeter James Morrison at Federation Square on May 1, 2010.

The performance heralded the launch of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF).

Festivals such as MIJF are on the rise in Melbourne and surrounding cities, host to five jazz festivals this month.

Jazz music station 3MBS partnership and promotions representative, Amy Moon, said the 3MBS co-presented event at Federation Square was funded by the City of Melbourne.

“The City of Melbourne has provided funding for this free event, to cover artist fees, equipment, recording and broadcasting.” said Ms Moon.

Does this mean the citizens of Melbourne are taking the genre more seriously?

Vote here with your opinion on whether live jazz music is on a rise or not

Jazz enthusiast, Tim Cuthell, 21, believes interest in jazz music has neither increased nor decreased.

“I don’t believe that the amount of interest that Melbourne has for jazz has dwindled at all, it’s just stayed at about the same.”

“Although there may not be as much interest in jazz music as rock or pop, jazz venues such as Bennetts Lane and Spleen Bar in the city have artists playing to a full house.” said Cuthell.

Musician Jacinta Early, 20, disagrees.

Early believes there’s an ongoing increase in interest for jazz, especially the live scene.

“The way I’ve got most of my friends into the ‘scene’, if you can call it that, is by taking them to jazz clubs and showing them a few of my fav [sic] bands or performance location.”

“Some of these places are hidden and so unknown that it creates an amazing atmosphere because there are so many people there who aren’t just there because it’s ‘fad,’ they respect the talent that some of the musos [sic] have.” said Miss Early.

Photographs taken by Lillian Altman

Cuthell believes the festivals have a positive impact on the industry.

“I think that having festivals like the one we saw last week, will help the industry, but I mean any publicity is good.”

“Getting out there and getting listened to is really the key if you want to make a living out of this.” said Cuthell.

Early agrees the popularity of the events, such as the sold out shows of Paul Capsis and Ahmad Jamal at the MIJF festival benefit the genre economically.

“I haven’t been able to get into one of my favourite jazz or blues place for a while without having to pre-book tickets.” said Early.

Jazz first become popular in the 1920s, originating in Storyville, New Orleans. It spread to the likes of New York and Chicago. This genre of music is mostly instrumental, except for the singing of scat (nonsense syllable); is filled with improvisation; and generally involves wind and string instrumentation.

Well know jazz musicians include Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington.

Early believes the resurgence in jazz is having an effect on other music genres too.

“This increase in popularity of jazz has also assisted many other genres of bands.”

“Funk seems to be making a comeback too, there are some great bands at the moment that I’m totally in love with.” said Early.

Uptown Jazz Café in Fitzroy and Dizzys Jazz Club in Richmond, are just some of the popular venues that specifically cater for a jazz audience.

However, new liquor licensing laws set to damage the potential for new artists, as they are given fewer choices of venues to perform at, yet can benefit from the influx of festivals.

University student Anirudh Asher, 20, believes the new laws are detrimental to the live jazz scene.

“The new laws definitely slow the potential for an artist/performer to be found and made a star via their popularity, but maybe getting to the point of performing in a prestigious festival is the real test.” said Asher.

With the success of MIJF and Wangaratta Jazz Festival in recent years, smaller jazz festivals are popping up around town.

In its fifth year, the Stonnington Jazz Festival features Morrison and other Australian artists.

The festival caters for a wide array of people, whether they be newcomers or passionate jazz fans.

The festival runs from May 20  to 30 in Prahran, Malvern, Melbourne and South Yarra.

Highlights of MIJF 2010


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