Melbourne International Jazz Festival Summer Sessions, Jan. 9-17, 2016

By Matt Micucci

A hot line up for the Australian summer featuring the Vince Jones Quartet and Hailu Mergia.

From January 9-17, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival Summer Sessions will be turning up the heat of the Australian summer.

The festival, which usually takes place in June, has provided a platform for performance, collaboration and engagement for eighteenth year. In addition to its main programme, it offers jazz enthusiasts a chance to enjoy some great performances throughout its summer season with its Summer sessions.

Things kick off with one of the most recognized voices in Australian jazz, Vince Jones. The Vince Jones quartet will be performing on January 9 and 10, with a set that includes original songs and beautiful contemporary versions of jazz standards, which focus on themes of love, injustice and peace. The heart of his work lies at the crossroads of Afro-American blues and the melodies of the Celtic folk tradition.

The quartet, along with Vince Jones on vocals and trumpet, features Matt McMahon on piano, Ben Robertson on bass and Tony Floyd on drums.

The re-opened Bennetts Lane Jazz Club will play host to Ethio-jazz giant Hailu Mergia. A member of Ethiopia’s trailblazing Walias Band in the 1970s, in 1981 Mergia used the first-ever US tour of an Ethiopian music group to escape the dictatorial Mengistu regime. He made one of the most unlikely comebacks in recent history after his 1985 album Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument was re-released and revived his career.

Mergia has now joined forces with a hard-to-beat rhythm section made up of two leading Berlin-based Australian improvisors: double bassist Mike Majkowski and drummer Tony Buck. With Mergia on keyboards, accordion and vocals, the trio explores the deep, liquid and hypnotic qualities of Hailu Mergia’s music, combining a futuristic sound steeped in Ethiopian homeland flavour with unique grooves and angular melodies.

Other great acts include Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii’s astounding improvisation project KAZE, a celebration of Australian saxophone legend David Ades and more.

For more information on the Melbourne International Jazz Festival Summer Session, visit the website

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