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by Tony Roma
posted 24/10/2021

Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival 2021

The 2021 Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival welcomes the return of live music in Sydney, and highlights the exceptional contribution that women are making to jazz across 10 spectacular days from Friday 12 November  – Sunday 21 November.  

This year’s program celebrates Australia’s uniqueness, defined by our vibrant multi-cultural community which showcases a diverse range of styles and sounds. Audiences will experience a plethora of artists reaching across the musical spectrum including ancient Japanese improvisations to swampy New Orleans rhythms, or groove-driven Zambian soul.   

The festival will take place in a number of venues; from the spectacular architecture and outdoor spaces of the Joynton Street Creative Centre in Zetland, through to the dimly-lit corners of Sydney’s only dedicated jazz club Foundry616, to the acoustic splendour of the Utzon Room in the  Sydney Opera House. 

To open the festival, one of Sydney’s most accomplished jazz singers, Virna Sanzone,  celebrates her Italian heritage with a program of Italian and English songs on Friday 12 November at SIMA’s outdoor pop up music club ‘Ruby’s’ located at Joynton Avenue from 6pm.  

The good times keep rolling at Joynton Avenue Creative Centre on Saturday 13 November from 11am – 3pm with a FREE event ‘Brass On The Grass’ on the Matron Ruby Grant Lawns. Pack the picnic hamper, or enjoy full bar service (with registration) for an afternoon soundtrack of rollicking New-Orleans jazz and big brassy blues brought to you by Queen Porter Stomp and 343 Brass Band.  

Sydney’s classic jazz venue, Foundry616 is a long-time partner venue. This year the club will play host to ten-piece, all-female powerhouse ensemble Pharos performing the world premiere of Sophie Min’s “Pomegranate” on Sunday 14 November. The 2020 recipient of the APRA Emerging Composers Mentorship, Sophie studied under multi-award winning composer/pianist Barney McAll to develop this new work for Pharos. 

Foundry616 will also include performances by sophisticated swing-singer Kate Wadey, bossa-nova artist Anna Salleh and outstanding emerging saxophonist Tessie Overmeyer who will feature alongside Jann Rutherford Award-winning bassist, Hannah James, in the much-loved local fixture big-band Mingus Amongst Us.  

The spectacular acoustics and breath-taking views of the harbourside Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House will host a unique double-bill on Friday 19 November. Internationally acclaimed saxophonist and composer Dr Sandy Evans will join forces with  Japanese koto-master Satsuki Odamura, and ARIA award-winning bassist Steve Elphick, for a breath-taking trio performance followed by Visions of Nar. This awe inspiring project features two of Australia’s most promising female instrumentalists; Armenian/Australian pianist Zela Margossian who has recently been signed to prestigious US jazz label Ropeadope Records, and young guitarist Hilary Geddes who won the prestigious 2021 Freedman Jazz Fellowship earlier this month. A not to be missed summit gathering of Australian jazz greats in a superb setting!

 Finally, Zambian/British soul singer Major Zulu ends the festival with a vibrant closing night party at Foundry616 on Sunday 21 November. Having lived and worked in London, Paris and the US, she has played alongside Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, Earth Wind & Fire and featured as lead vocalist for the Grammy-award winning Basement Jaxx’s “Everybody”.  With performances at international festivals across the world, including South By South West (USA), Glastonbury (UK), and CMJ-New York City (USA), Major Zulu promises fireworks, closing 2021 festivities in style.  

What: Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival

Who: SIMA Presents

When: 12th to 21st November

To Find Out More & Book Online Click Here

Fri 12 Nov – Virna Sanzone Quartet – Ruby’s – Joynton Avenue Creative Centre 

Sat 13 Nov – ‘Brass on the Grass’ ft. – Queen Porter Stomp & 343 Brass Band – Joynton Avenue Creative Centre 

Sat 13 Nov – Kate Wadey – Foundry616 

Sun 14 Nov – Pharos ft. Sophie Min’s “Pomegranate” (World Premiere) – Foundry616 

Mon 15 Nov and Tuesday 16 Nov – “Behind the Mind” of Ellen Kirkwood’s – [A]part ft. Sandy Evans, Andrea Keller & Gian Slater – Special Live Stream 

Thur 18 Nov – Mingus Amongst Us ft. Tessie Overmeyer & Hannah James – Foundry616

Fri 19 Nov – Evans/Odamura/Elphick & Visions of Nar – Utzon Room – Sydney Opera House  

Sat 20th Nov – Anna Salleh – Foundry616 

Sun 21 Nov – Major Zulu – Closing Night Party – Foundry616  

From the Festival Directors: 

“We are thrilled the 2021 festival is going ahead, jazz is an ideal medium for seated, social distanced settings.” said Zoe Hauptmann and Peter Rechniewski – Co- Artistic Directors of the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival.   

“This year presents a unique opportunity for music lovers to experience the magic and intimacy of jazz. Few Australian musicians have been able to perform live since the onset of the coronavirus, and these artists are so excited to perform for audiences at this year’s festival.”   

The Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival could not happen without the generous support of the City of Sydney, Create NSW, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Anthony and Sharon Lee Foundation.