What to see at MIJF 2019: Staff Picks

Not sure what to see at MIJF?

Leave it to the experts. We asked around the office to find out what the MIJF team are hanging out to see at the Festival.

Here’s what they had to say.


Artistic Director, Michael Tortoni, says “Ghost-Note for those looking for something a little surprising; Ms Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton for those new to the Festival; and Rafiq Bhatia for a night at the Jazzlab.” All excellent choices.


Our fearless leader, CEO Hadley Agrez,  loves them all, but says there are a few acts worth checking out if you’re not sure where to start.

Ambrose Akinmusire’s Origami Harvest will be a standout, no question. Linda May Han Oh’s Aventurine is a stunning, collaborative effort from some truly wonderful musicians. And a club show people need to know about: Miles Okazaki’s Work.”


For Marketing and Development Director, Dean Worthington, it’s a no-brainer: “LISA. FISCHER. That voice! And Claire Cross for Tomorrow is My Turn. It’s a terrific program that reaches the next generation of jazz…won’t be long before we see them in the program.”

You can listen to Dean’s pre-Festival chat with Lisa Fischer here. 


Alice Moloney, our Volunteer Coordinator is pumped for YID! “It’s gonna be awesome! 20+ musicians taking on old Yiddish songs and bringing them into the 21st century. Described as ‘a Funkadelic style, John Zorn style, Talking Heads style Yiddish big band’ – what’s not to love?”

Two of our wonderful volunteers gave us their assessment too.

Veteran vollie Graham McCoy says he’s “really looking forward to seeing Lisa Fischer at the Recital Centre. I saw her there in 2016 and it is probably one of the best concerts I have ever attended. It rivalled Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mike Stern, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock – I could go on and on. She has an incredible range, amazing vocal/mike technique and astounding dynamics which she utilised brilliantly at the Recital Centre. As the backing singer of choice for The Rolling Stones she can obviously let it rip but it was when she sang without a microphone, with everyone in the audience on the edge of their seats, that was the highlight of an unforgettable evening.”

And the lovely Jo Holl has some sage Festival advice: “When planning your MIJF 2019 experience, I don’t only reach for the weekend shows. The festival offers 10 days full of incredible performances so gorge yourself; you can rest on the other 355 non-Jazz Festival days of the year. I’m all for funky contemporary beats so my advice is to turn up the volume on Ghost-Note’s  2018 album Swagism and book your ticket to go wild with them down at 170 Russell Street the evening of Wednesday 5 June.”


Program Coordinator Holly Norman knows a thing or two about MIJF artists – she’s their go-to person here in Melbourne. Here’s her list:

Ghost-Note – as a percussionist and drummer myself I can’t really go past it – the grooves will be so extremely heavy!!

Linda May Han Oh – I have so much respect for Linda, we come from the same home town and she’s gone on to build such an incredible career as a versatile artist so I can’t wait to hear her composition Aventurine, particularly with such a phenomenal ensemble of fellow Australian instrumentalists (Angela Davis, Ben Vanderwal, Flinders Quartet) and singers (Invenio Ensemble) in the beautiful surrounds of the Melbourne Recital Centre

Brekky Boy – is it wrong to say I’m equally as pumped for these guys as I am for Ambrose Akinmusire? Frothing.

Riffz2000 – I’m not just being #perthproud, Ben Vanderwal is really a world class drummer and bandleader and these guys will be hilarious to boot. Good times great grooves.

Angela Davis Trio – I love Ange’s playing, can’t wait to hear her album and I think a trio is a perfect setting to really showcase her musicality.”


Our Ticketing and Partnerships Manager Ali Coad is all about discovering something new at the Festival: “As someone who’s freshly
started their jazz journey I’m looking forward to artists like Riffz2000 who blend more mainstream music with improvised jazz to create unique experiences.”

Still have questions? Get in touch! We love helping you find your perfect Festival gig.

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