Prepare for ‘a cracker’

BAND STAND: The Australian Royal Navy Admiral's Own Big Band will be one of many big bands playing at the festival.
BAND STAND: The Australian Royal Navy Admiral's Own Big Band will be one of many big bands playing at the festival.

Merimbula Jazz Festival committee member Paul Dion promises “a cracker of a weekend” and with 640 musicians making up 110 bands, several hundred jazz lovers have already registered and more are expected to arrive for the start of the 37th Merimbula Jazz Festival.

“Numbers are up on last year and we’ve had a terrific response,” Mr Dion said.

“Jazz music comes in many shades and variations and we have a great selection from trad, to big bands, modern and fusion,” he added.

There are six main venues around town, two in Club Sapphire, two in the RSL Club, one Twyford Hall (where most of the trad bands play) and the Lakeview Hotel (where a lot of the modern jazz bands play). 

“Programming to ensure everybody gets a good hearing is, as you can imagine, an onerous task with so many musicians on board. To help with this, and to have bands starting on the hour, we have added some earlier and later performance spots this year,” Mr Dion said.

One of the innovations in recent years has been the Jazz Quest where under 25s compete for cash prizes donated by the Lakeview Hotel. This has been responsible for the growth of school bands and a younger audience taking part in the jazz festival. Jazz Quest takes place on Saturday evening at the Lakeview Hotel from 10pm followed by the Be Bop and Beyond jam session.

Music kicks off on Friday evening in all venues from 5pm until 11.45pm and starts again on Saturday at 11am through to late in the evening. Sunday is the same and on Monday Club Sapphire hosts the free entry Jazz Hatters party from 11am to 4pm.

This is also the home of Jazz Art; each year local artists produce artworks around the jazz theme with one chosen to be used as the basis for the following year’s poster.

On Saturday morning at 10.30am the parade will take place starting from the Caltex Service Station and ending up at Beach Street for the traditional big blow. 

Festival passes for $90 are available at the festival office in Twyford Hall. Alternatively session passes are available at each of venue for at $30 a half day or $50 for a full day. A session pass provides access to all venues for that session. Contact Aileen for more information on 6495 9853 or visit the jazz festival website.