Features/Q&A/Sponsored Content/What to SEE/Music

Fifty shades of jazz

3 August 2023

Perth Jazz Society is celebrating a major milestone with a stellar lineup at this year’s Lyric Lane Jazz Festival. Julie Hosking gets the lowdown from co-curator Jess Herbert. 

Jess Herbert may have studied classical saxophone at WAAPA but it’s jazz that stole her heart, so much so that she started her own band. 

Inspired by the Berlin cabaret scene, Perth Cabaret Collective has grown into a full-scale cabaret production incorporating different performance styles, including burlesque, drag and circus. 

“This was my first experience as a musical director and the instigator of so many incredible opportunities,” she says. “I am now the MD of the UWA Jazz Ensemble, as well as the MD of the WAYJO Northern Corridor band. These two programs are extremely close to my heart. Teaching young people the joy of artist creation, leadership and collaboration through the vehicle of big band jazz is such a privilege.” 

While the Perth Cabaret Collective will celebrate its 10-year anniversary next September, for now Herbert is focused on a much bigger birthday. Perth Jazz Society (PJS) turns 50 this year and the musical director is helping to ensure the milestone is celebrated in style with a mix of experience and youth at the third Lyric Lane Jazz Festival.

Julie Hosking caught up with the festival co-curator ahead of the three-day party, which will feature the talents of Lucky Oceans, Jessie Gordon, Roger Garood and the Georgie Aué Band among others. 

Julie Hosking: How did you get involved with the Perth Jazz Society? 
Jess Herbert: I had worked closely with (PJS president) Kate Pass on the first Lyric Lane Jazz Festival in 2021, prior to me joining the Board. Kate and I have worked together for many years as musicians but never as organisation collaborators. We realised what a wasted opportunity this was and she invited me to officially join the Board in 2022. 

Jess Herbert is excited about the line-up for this year’s Lyric Lane Jazz Festival. Photo supplied

JH: How do you think Perth Jazz Society has contributed to the WA musical landscape over the past 50 years? 
JH: Perth Jazz Society is the oldest modern jazz society in Australia and has contributed greatly to WA’s musical scene. For much of its history, PJS ran weekly jazz nights, long before there was a designated jazz club in Perth. This provided a platform for incredible local artists such as Troy Roberts, Jamie Oehlers, VOID, Roger Garrood, and Libby Hammer, as well as hosting big international acts such as Emily Remler, Dewey Redman, Johnny Griffin and Cindy Blackman, who often used local WA musicians in their line-ups. 

In recent years, Perth Jazz Society has focused on fostering original jazz in WA, creating a space for many bands to play their first gig, and providing support to emerging artists. We sponsor two artists every year to record a debut album of original music, which has resulted in eight album recordings so far, many of which have been recognised with WAM awards. In 2020, we released a double disc compilation album, Open Your Ears Vol. 1: Perth Women in Jazz, which highlighted the immense contributions of female/non-binary jazz composers from Perth.  

JH: This is the third year for the Lyric Lane Jazz Festival – how did it come about?  
JH: I’m passionate about the expansion of, and the exposure to, our incredible jazz scene here in WA. Jazz is such a broad and all-encompassing genre that it can be overwhelming for audiences to know where to begin and that’s why I wanted to start this festival. I wanted to create something that felt familiar enough to draw people in and then at the same time, expose them to certain styles of jazz or improvised music that they hadn’t heard before. As well as this, for me personally, this festival is about creating opportunities and contributing to the incredible jazz community we have here in Perth.  

How do we foster and develop a healthy scene as well as build momentum and solidify it for future generations is a question that keeps me up at night. This is just one small way that I feel contributes to the lush landscape of our scene. The creation of the Lyric Lane Jazz Festival means local musicians have another opportunity to be celebrated and showcased alongside their peers and audience members.  

JH: With so many great WA jazz artists, how do you determine who to feature?  
JH: It is definitely the hardest element of putting this festival together. We have such a wealth of talent here in WA and so many amazing musicians and projects to choose from. Given that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Perth Jazz Society, we wanted to get a snapshot of the scene as it is today, as well as paying homage to some of the musical legends who have graced our stages for many years. Our program has everything from Big Band Jazz to Cuban music to original compositions from upcoming young talent. Representing a scene in its totality is a big task, but I’m really happy with our lineup this year and think we’ve struck a really good balance.  

JH: Tell us a bit about some of the musicians performing at this year’s festival.  
JH: We are very honoured to have one of the icons of the WA scene, Roger Garood, playing in the Festival this year. Roger has been a staple of the Perth jazz scene for decades, performing with some of the world’s best musicians throughout his extensive career. He is an amazing educator, having spent a lot of his career teaching at WAAPA and was the musical director of the WAYJO Monday Night Orchestra for 12 years. Roger is a very special addition to our lineup. 

Tommi Flamenco is an up-and-coming electric bass player who has been making his mark the last few years. We have tasked him with celebrating one of Perth’s most iconic fusion bands, VOID.  With Troy Roberts (saxophones), Tom O’Halloran (piano, keyboards), Dane Alderson (electric bass) and Andy Fissenden (drums), VOID is one of Perth’s most iconic bands. High energy jazz fusion and engaging compositions, alongside the band’s undeniable energy, have had this repertoire echoing throughout the local jazz scene.  

A group of musicians stand together in a courtyard looking up at the camera. The one in the middle is wearing a black jacket and cap and red shirt. They are De Cuba Son.
De Cuba Son will play Cuban hits old and now at the Lyric Lane Jazz Festival. Photo supplied

De Cuba Son showcases Cuban hits from many different decades, from the likes of Compay Segundo and the Buena Vista Social Club, to more contemporary sounds. It is a high energy band with music primarily geared for dancing the night away. On this special night, De Cuba Son will be releasing a bunch of original songs for the very first time! Plus some special guests and many absolute classic tunes from the Cuban songbook. 

JH: What do you think the next 50 years of Perth Jazz Society might look like?  
JH: The Perth Jazz Society’s 50-year legacy is something that everyone in the WA music scene can be proud of. This organisation, made up of volunteers, has championed many homegrown acts, as well as bringing some top tier international performers to WA.  I think the strength of our history lays the path for the future of jazz in WA.  

I see PJS continuing to be a unique platform for young and emerging artists, choosing the arts path, to be nurtured, educated and celebrated. Every opportunity we can provide young artists is a step toward their future success and I can’t think of a greater legacy for an arts organisation to leave.  

I also see strength in collaboration. Given there are so many wonderful arts organisations all doing incredible work in WA music scene, it seems like a no-brainer to build a scene that works together to ensure the ongoing sustainability, enrichment, and success of everything we have to offer in WA.

Here’s to the next 50 years! 

The Lyric Lane Jazz Festival is at Lyric’s Underground, Maylands, 17-19 August 2023. You can buy a three-night pass or choose your evening. 

Pictured top: Singer Jessie Gordon is part of the stellar line-up for this. year’s Lyric Lane Jazz Festival. Photo supplied

This article is sponsored content.

Seesaw offers Q&As as part of its suite of advertising and sponsored content options. For more information head to

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Julie Hosking

A journalist with more words to her name than she can count, Julie Hosking has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Melbourne and Perth. She has been a news editor, travel editor, features editor, arts editor and, for one terrifying year, business editor, before sanity prevailed and she landed in her happy place - magazines. If pushed (literally), she favours the swing.

Past Articles

  • Spring into the school holidays

    From Awesome activities to magical nannies, there are so many marvellous ways to have a jolly holiday, writes Julie Hosking.

  • In the eye of the storm

    Breaksea’s poignant story of the search for light in the darkest hours ignites the senses. Julie Hosking rides the waves of emotion.

Read Next

  • Reading time • 10 minutesFringe World Festival
  • Carina Roberts and Gakuro Matsui in The Nutcracker How to watch ballet

    How to watch ballet

    16 November 2023

    If you’ve booked tickets to Christmas favourite The Nutcracker and you’re not sure what to expect, look no further! Rita Clarke has you covered.

    Reading time • 10 minutesDance
  • Reading time • 7 minutesMulti-arts

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio


Cleaver Street Studio