JAZZ young buck and blues war-horse — that’s cutting edge US pianist Gerald Clayton and newly re-invented Australian music legend Russell Morris.
Thirty-six years separate the two performers, and their musical preferences are disparate, but both are set to shine at the 24th Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues over the Melbourne Cup weekend, November 1 to 4.
Last night’s festival launch at Wangaratta’s Pinsent Hotel revealed a potent international and Australian musician line-up, with 29-year-old Clayton and 65-year-old Morris front and centre.
Morris, who scored a pop hit in 1969 with The Real Thing, will sing the blues and original songs featured on his chart-topping release Sharkmouth, the hit album responsible for the singer’s Lazarus-like comeback.
The global jazz contingent hails from the US and across Europe while US and Australian blues greats will lead the blues marquee program.
The Gerald Clayton Trio will share the jazz stage with the Magic Trio: guitarist Paul Bollenback, vocalist Chris McNulty, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and pianist Barney McAll, a regular Wangaratta festival visitor, who will perform in solo and trio formats.
Festival artistic director Adrian Jackson said the line-up included a mix of first-time and returning artists.
“I am especially pleased to present the first tour here by the Grammy-nominated Gerald Clayton Trio,” Mr Jackson said.
“Gerald has a great jazz pedigree (his father is the bassist John Clayton, his uncle the saxophonist Jeff Clayton), and he is regarded as one of the fastest rising stars on the US jazz scene.”
The other overseas jazz artists bound for Wangaratta are Norwegian saxophonist Froy Aagre; Dutch electric jazz band Gatecrash, fronted by trumpeter Eric Vloeimans; Belgian pianist Jef Neve, who is making his third visit to Wangaratta; and Vienna-based guitarist Peter O’Mara, originally from Australia, who will lead his Affiliation band.
Australian jazz performers include festival patron Paul Grabowsky with his sextet; pianist Joe Chindamo; vocalist Gian Slater; Way Out West; new bands Drumbling and U.NLock; and Mace Francis Nonet and Callum G’Froerer Ensemble, both making festival debuts.
The blues marquee will fire up with US acts Old Gray Mule and singer/storyteller Charlie Parr, while Aussies Russell Morris and blues greats Geoff Achison and Chris Wilson will be three of a host of blues artists.
Festival tickets are now on sale at wangarattajazz.com.