May 21, 2022
Melbourne Jazz Festival

Melbourne Jazz History

The Melbourne Jazz Festival, a world-class jazz annual event takes place in concert halls, arts venues, jazz clubs, and on the streets of Melbourne, transforming the city into a jazz mecca.

Each program of Melbourne Jazz Festival is designed to appeal to both young and old, enthusiasts and novices, in order to expose as many people as possible to the deeply emotional influence jazz can have on its listener.

The Festival’s vision is to establish itself as one of the world’s preeminent centres of jazz presentation by offering a forum for performance, collaboration, education, and involvement. Its eclectic programming features contemporary jazz masters, late-night art parties, free events, Australian/international collaborations, and opportunities for young artists.

The International Melbourne Jazz Festival is led by a committed Board of Directors and Management team that is committed to establishing Melbourne as a world-class jazz destination.


Detailed History of Melbourne Jazz Festival

The inaugural Melbourne International Jazz Festival took place in 1998. Adrian Jackson served as artistic director from 1998 to 2004; his tenure was cut short in 2002, when Arts Victoria and the City of Melbourne withdrew financing in November 2001, forcing the cancellation of the January 2002 program.

While the majority of the planned festival went on, the City of Melbourne contacted Bennetts Lane Jazz Club founder Michael Tortoni to see if he was interested in taking over the festival. Tortoni agreed and successfully revived the festival by utilizing the staff and infrastructure of his club. Tortoni was named chairman in late 2001 and immediately overhauled the board of directors. Megan Evans and Jeremy Jankie, managers of Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, presented a large portion of the 2002 festival, and Evans returned the following year to run the festival. Tortoni remained on the board of directors, serving in a variety of capacities.

Albert Dadon was appointed Chairman in 2004. He arranged for Carlo Pagnotta, the long-serving director of Italy’s Umbria Jazz Festival, to be brought in as a guest Artistic Director in 2005. The Melbourne Jazz Festival was suspended in 2006 because of site and schedule conflicts caused by the Commonwealth Games, which were held in Melbourne that year.

Dadon was then appointed Artistic Director of the festival in 2007, and again in 2008. Dadon was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian Jazz Bell Awards.

Since 2009, Michael Tortoni has served as creative director.

In 2020, there was no festival, as the physical event was canceled because to Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak. In its place, the Festival presented the free ‘These Digital Times’, its first digital online live-streamed festival series, on the final Saturdays of May, June, and July.

The Festival 2021 was scheduled for October 15–24.


Current Popularity of Melbourne Jazz Festival



The identified audience is among the smallest in Australia for a discernible musical genre. It appears to be primarily composed of older individuals, despite the fact that many of the performers are young. While there is a bigger representation of young people in Melbourne audiences, a hypothesis to test is that the young are generally uninterested in jazz, which may be damaging the genre’s overall status.

Thus, some hypotheses are:

  • The audience is insufficient to sustain a financially sustainable jazz scene.
  • The audience is dwindling in age and size.
  • The majority of jazz is presented live through a small number of liquor-licensed venues; their financial viability is tenuous, and as a result, spontaneous development opportunities are limited.
  • It is possible that jazz’s popularity is episodic — that it experiences periods of expansion and collapse.



The absence of young people in the jazz audience does not appear to be a necessary result of the music’s current status. The media have reported on the rapid creation of a sizable young jazz audience in London. If you listen to a few minutes of it, you can find it unexceptional, but nevertheless it has the potential to evolve. It would be beneficial to research the phenomenon and see if it is adaptable to Australia.

The dwindling general media, in any case, do not see a great need to cover jazz. Media coverage of Melbourne jazz festival is primarily provided by specialized online sites, presumably servicing a niche audience of committed performers and listeners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *