Will be playing at this weekend’s Bellingen Jazz and Manouche Festival.
Will be playing at this weekend’s Bellingen Jazz and Manouche Festival. Contributed

Jazz originals to headline festival

“FLAP!” yelled Jess Guille to a bird battling headwinds in the stratosphere – and so, as legend has it, the name of this fiery Melbourne band was born.

One of the headline acts for this weekend’s Bellingen Jazz and Manouche Festival, Flap!, describe themselves as playing original music, old and new, inspired by the entire human diaspora.

“We love playing to mixed-age audiences because there are often references to old jazz songs or English folk riffs in the music I write – young people don’t get that, older audience members do,” trumpeter Eamon McNelis said.

“Festivals like this are wonderful for that – I think we are booked for four hours of music but I can’t imagine that’s all we’ll do!”

Mr McNelis has already made a name for himself as one of Australia’s few jazz musi- cians to be widely respected in both the traditional and modern jazz circuits.

No doubt he will be keen to step up to the challenge of Brett Iggulden’s Cheap Frock Serenaders, whose names will be drawn from a hat with the playlist delivered on the spot in sealed envelopes.

Another dynamic element in the program will be Cope St Parade. Hailing from inner city Sydney, in the spirit of the jazz tradition their name reflects the street where they live in Redfern. Sousaphone player Grant Arthur said the band played old-fashioned-sounding songs with 21st century energy and virtuosity.

“Absolutely we are upbeat – lots of hot solos to get people dancing,” Mr Arthur said.

“People forget that jazz was originally dance music – that was the whole point and that, of course, includes intimate moments as well.”

And then there is the whole new Manouche part of the program featuring 15 of Australia’s leading guitarists playing slide blues, Western swing, Brazilian choro, Gypsy swing, Manouche (think Johnny Depp and Chocolat) and more. Go to www.bellingenjazzfestival .com.au for information. Go to Bellingen and be surprised.

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