Scott Tinkler. WA Museum Boola Bardip. Photo by Ewa Ginal-Cumblidge

Well, that’s a wrap! The 2021 Perth International Jazz Festival was bigger and better than ever and now we set our attention to our 10th anniversary in 2022 and my fifth festival as artistic director.

It was another challenging year to plan in this pandemic world with international artists out of the question and with limited national states we could plan on being stable. Luckily our early decision to invite only artists from Tasmania and South Australia paid off. We had interstate artists come into and out of WA with no incident or drama… and what a group of artists! Scott Tinkler and Julius Schwing played some of the most interesting and unique music I have heard in a long time! Adam Page had The Rechabite Hall in the palm of his hands creating funning, creative and beautiful music all on his own… and then there was Er@ser Description who absolutely rocked Grooves n Brews at Northbridge Piazza.

Our international artists beamed in from Amsterdam this year with Tim Men and the Telephone playing live for us while the audience interacted with them via their Tinmendo app. This had some people confused and a bit perplexed, but for those who got it, they really enjoyed it. A huge thank you to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for being so supportive of this innovative and interactive event.

Our Lady of Jazz. Photo by Richard Watson

We activated a lot of new spaces around the city this year. Forrest Place was the scene for the incredible talent coming out of ECU/WAAPA and we thank them for being a program partner once again. Hackett Hall at the WA Museum Boola Bardip featured some of the very best improvising musicians in the country, including a solo performance from trumpeter Scott Tinkler. A secret space aka Hub Interiors on St Georges Terrace was transformed into a Brazilian night spot. Guests had no idea where they were going until they purchased a ticket. They were then led into an un-expecting office space and then BAM! A beautiful open courtyard featuring some of the best musicians in the city. This was also a special event to thank our new Jazz Messengers who have taken on the mantle of spreading the message of jazz!

Familiar spaces were transformed! The Ellington Jazz Club focussed on jazz piano and had three nights of solo piano performances from a real mix of the incredible piano talent this town has to offer and all to pay homage to piano powerhouse and founder of the Festival, Dr Graham Wood. In partnership with Northbridge Brewing Co, we closed off Northbridge Piazza to made it the hippest bar in town. Grooves N Brews featured artists that skirt around the fringes or have strong ties to jazz including Flewnt MC, TRISK, Bad Whip, Supathick, Liquid Project and Er@ser Description: all tied together by DJ Jimmy Mac! A lot of dancing… and a lot of Jazz Juice!

The Rechabite was again the main hub for ticketed shows and a great and diverse program. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the tribute to the great Helen Matthews. Jamie Oehlers paid respect to the great John Coltrane and my lordy, Mr Coltrane would have loved it! The Artemis Orchestra goes from strength to strength presenting music from their recent debut album. Kate Pass, Hanna Kim and Jess Carlton all led bands to appreciative and enthralled audiences. This was all topped off by the final performance of the festival by Grievous Bodily Calm! What a way to close!

Perth’s perfect weather was on show at the Jazz Picnic in Hyde Park, which started with a jazz parade featuring 128 musicians, followed by an afternoon of bands that had people up dancing all day. This free event had a lot more food options this year and a cute little bar where you could enjoy drinks from our hospitality partners Plantagenet Wines, West Winds Gin and Northbridge Brewing Co.

And just when you thought it was all over – we travelled down to Busselton to take PIJF “On Tour”. The weather gods were on our side again as we took over the Busselton Foreshore with jazz and a bar with our friends at Rocky Ridge Brewing Co. Music spilled from the stage all afternoon featuring The Love Rats, Gemma Farrell Quintet, the Oz Big Band and the Libby Hammer Quartet.

This Festival has certainly grown in recent years, despite living in a pandemic world. WA jazz audiences are awesome, supportive of local artists, and are always willing to try the new things we present to them. This Festival could not happen though without the support of our major partner the Australian Government RISE Fund; Community Presenting Partners Lotterywest, City of Perth, City of Vincent, and City of Busselton; Program Partners ECU/WAAPA and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Media Partners Dingo, RTRFM and ABC Jazz; and Venue Partners Alex Hotel, WA Museum Boola Bardip, Cathedral Square, The Ellington Jazz Club, Northbridge Brewing Co and The Rechabite.

We are already planning for next year and hope to bring you the very best music we can from WA, interstate and internationally. Put Nov 4-6 in the diary, book some time off, and get ready for the 2022 Perth International Jazz Festival.

Dr Mace Francis
Festival Director

OZ Big Band, Busselton Foreshore. Photo by Richard Watson