Melbourne International Jazz Festival kicks off the year with its summer series.

Artists featured include Hailu Mergia with Tony Buck & Mike Majkowski – (Ethiopia/Australia), KAZE featuring Satoko Fujii (JAP/FRA), Swooping Duck and a tribute to Dave Ades

Hailu Mergia’s return to the Jazz world in 2013, after he was rediscovered by Brian Shimkovitz of Awesome Tapes from Africa, has been celebrated the world over.

The story of the Ethiopian keyboard and accordion luminary, is rather astounding. Decades earlier, Mergia was the revered leader of one of Ethiopia’s most renowned Jazz and Funk outfits, the great Walias Band, who were active in the early 1970s. In 1981 Mergia used the first-ever US tour of an Ethiopian music group to escape the dictatorial Mengistu regime. He settled in Washington DC were he had been driving cabs until his hypnotic, Ethiopian sounds were rediscovered.

He is now enjoying a merited resurgence since Awesome Tapes From Africa, unearthed his music and in 2014 released his acclaimed 1977 instrumentals album Tche Belew by Hailu Mergia and the Walias.
Mergia has now joined forces with a hard-to-beat rhythm section made up of two leading Berlin-based Australian improvisors: double bassist Mike Majkowski (sideman to Hans Bennink and Peter Brötzmann) and drummer Tony Buck (The Necks).

Together the trio explores the deep, liquid and hypnotic qualities of Hailu Mergia’s music, combining a futuristic sound steeped in Ethiopian homeland flavour with unique grooves and angular melodies.

Hailu will be performing at Bennetts Lane Melbourne and also at the Sydney Festival.

Also appearing is KAZE featuring Satoko Fujii, two internationally-renowned Japanese musicians + two French musicians. Melodic, abstract, mysterious, beautiful, and confrontational, Kaze plays free jazz at its most creative and powerful.

A Life in a Day celebrates legendary Australian saxophonist David Ades in a heartfelt tribute, his close friends and colleagues, Zac Hurren and Julien Wilson, bring to life music from his final album, recorded only weeks before losing his battle with lung cancer.

Swooping Duck, Bender, Pez & Simon, aka the Hiatus Kaiyote rhythm section, perform 100% improvised music in a stripped-back sonic experiment. No tunes. Zero material to fall back on. Just ears, adrenaline, and pure improvisation.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival summer sessions