Jazz weekend sets Perth swinging

9 November 2020

Huge numbers turned out for the Perth International Jazz Festival over the weekend. Rosalind Appleby captures the atmosphere with a photo essay.

Picnickers in Hyde Park danced along and fans packed The Rechabite as the Perth International Jazz Festival unfolded over the weekend. Local jazz favourites performed alongside international stars and community groups in a celebration of the richness of the WA jazz scene.

Many of the gigs were free, including the all-day Northbridge Piazza Community Concert and the hugely successful Sunday afternoon Jazz Picnic in Hyde Park, which kicked off with an epic jazz parade.

people walk down a path playing trumpets
Ricki Malet leads trumpet players in the Jazz Parade at Hyde Park. Photo: Angelyne Wolfe

The free concerts and beautiful spring weather attracted huge crowds with over 1900 people attending the free events and another 1200 attending ticketed events. Sell-out shows included the Jamie Oehlers Double Drummer Band, Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble, the Ellington Jazz Club concerts, Jazz Dinner and Allira Wilson and Harry Mitchell’s tribute to the music of Paul Simon.

The back view of a pianist, drummer, bassist, saxophonist and guitarist as they face a crowd
The Harry Mitchell Quintet performed on Saturday night. Photo: Dion Serras

The move to the Rechabite this year was a popular choice, allowing the audience to move easily between venues and enjoy refreshment options in The Rechabite and nearby.

Lights shine on the arched ceiling as a band plays to an audience
The Perth International Jazz Festival lights up the Rechabite Hall. Photo: Ewa Ginal Cumblidge

Featured artist Tal Cohen, a graduate from the WA Academy of Performing Arts now based in the US, attracted a capacity crowd to the Rechabite Hall on Saturday night for his quartet with Jamie Oehlers (saxophone), Alistair Peel (bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums). Cohen’s piano roots in both Jewish folk song and classical music brought a fresh flavour to the festival.

A silhouette of a pianist on stage with a saxophone and bass player behind
Tal Cohen backed by Jamie Oehlers, Alistair Peel and Ben Vanderwal. Photo: Mark Francesca

Bass player Linda May Han Oh and her husband Cuban/American pianist Fabian Almazan were also featured artists, having sought haven in Perth as “COVID refugees” in March. Oh (a WAAPA graduate) performed her compositions with the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra on Sunday and closed the festival with a duo performance with Almazan. Oh expressed her gratefulness to Perth audiences for their warm welcome, and praised the efforts of festival organisers for giving jazz artists an opportunity to perform in Perth, one of the only places in the world where this can happen.

Linda May Han Oh and pianist Fabian Almazan perform the final gig of the 2020 Festival. Video: Rosalind Appleby

Pictured top: The Lucy Iffla Quintet at the Jazz Picnic in the Park. Photo: Ewa_Ginal-Cumblidge

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Author —
Rosalind Appleby

Rosalind is an arts journalist, author and speaker. She was co-managing editor and founding board member of Seesaw Magazine 2018 – 2023, is author of Women of Note, and has written for The West Australian, The Guardian, The Australian, Limelight magazine and Opera magazine (UK). She loves park percussion instruments.

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