Perth is feeling saxy

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FOR years Perth has been the only major city in Australia without a jazz festival (OK, Darwin too).

But after a few local jazzy sorts like Graham Wood from Ellington Jazz Club and saxophonist Jamie Oehlers got together, Perth will see its inaugural International Jazz Fest kick off later this month.

Mr Oehlers says, “there’s not necessarily a theme, but there are a lot of acts that will be listenable for a lot of people out there”.

“It’s essentially a modern jazz festival in that it’s not based around Dizzyland and swing… it’s not the crazy freeform jazz out there that no one understands.”

The fest has managed a coup in landing US jazz muso Joe Lovano, “one of the biggest names in jazz music worldwide,” Mr Oehler says. “Joe is usually booked up two years in advance, he’s one of the most in-demand jazz musicians on the planet.

“I just thought ‘I’ll shoot Joe an email and see if he’s free’, and it just so happened that he had five days in his schedule free, and it happened that it was across that weekend, and he agreed to do it.

“He’s basically in Australia for four days, it’s his only Australian concert.”

While there’ll be some international names like Lovano and Gilad Hekselman playing here, Mr Oehlers says they’ll be backed up by solid Perth talent.

“The scene here is actually incredible. Without sounding biased—because I run the jazz course at WAAPA—the fact that the course here is so strong is behind the fact that we’ve developed so many great young players, young artists who’ve gone overseas and are coming back,” like Troy Roberts.

There’ll be 14 ticketed concerts and 25 free shows across Perth and Vincent May 24 to 26.

by DAVID BELL

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