December-9th-2005, 11:17 PM
Melbourne Women's Jazz Fest
Each year, Melbourne's leading female jazz artists come together for a week-long festival that highlights their contribution to this city's jazz scene. The program always includes at least one overseas performer - hence the international moniker - and several musicians from interstate.
This year's program has seen the festival expand beyond its traditional "home", Bennetts Lane, to incorporate events at Federation Square (including a free concert by young jazz students on Sunday, December 11, 4.30pm to 7.30pm) and an improvised music series at the Carlton Courthouse.
Paul Grabowsky and singer Katie Noonan will launch their ARIA award-winning CD, Before Time Could Change Us, on Wednesday, December 14, at Bennetts Lane and on Thursday at BMW Edge.
Bennetts Lane is still the festival's hub, with at least two acts on stage every night. South African vocalist Buyisile Zama (appearing in The Lion King) will perform a duo set on Tuesday night with pianist Monique di Mattina, on a double bill with the Women's Festival Sextet (this year featuring Sydney saxophonist Sandy Evans).
Several other vocalists will appear at the festival, including Sydney's Virna Sanzone and three strikingly diverse Melbourne singers - Alison Wedding, Carl Pannuzzo and Emma Gilmartin - performing as part of a new suite by bassist Belinda Moody.
Saxophonist Fiona Burnett, bassist Tamara Murphy and trombonist Alex Silver (winner of the inaugural Jann Rutherford Memorial Award) will all lead bands over the next few days, and the festival concludes in party mode on Thursday with La Conexion, a coalition of Latin jazz players from Melbourne and Sydney.