Arts & Entertainment

Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival 2017

Frances Madden Photo: Steven Granger

Jazz can be a rather niche genre of music in and of itself but when it comes to female artists within the genre that niche becomes even smaller. Thankfully though the Sydney International Jazz Festival and the Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA) have once again combined their forces to curate a lineup of phenomenal female jazz musicians from around the country and globe.

2017 marks the sixth rendition of the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival (SIWJF) as it continues to build it’s reputation and attract even more international talent from a diverse range of musical styles. As co-artistic director Zoe Hauptmann told City Hub, “We don’t necessarily target a specific theme for the festival rather we simply aim for the most exciting and best music that we can find.”

This year Zoe and Peter Rechniewski have certainly met that self imposed brief as the festival welcomes the likes of three time Grammy winner Terri Lyne Carrington, multi-instrumentalist/dancer Jen Shyu alongside local acts such as rising star Frances Madden.

“Jen Shyu is extremely current, modern and one of the most exciting artists in the jazz scene today so we’re pretty lucky to have her,” said Hauptmann, “Then of course someone like Terri Lyne Carrington is jazz royalty so it’s incredible to get her as well.”

Whilst Zoe, Peter and the entire team behind the festival are incredibly proud to welcome these world renowned international acts to Sydney it’s also very gratifying for them to be able to showcase some of Australia’s most promising talents.

One such talent that will be on display during the festival is Frances Madden, who has been tipped by many jazz aficionados as one of our countries best rising talents. Frances was recently awarded The Fine Music 102.5 Kruger Scholarship, a $15,000 scholarship which assists young, outstanding individuals further their career in their chosen field of music.

“It was an amazing privilege to win that award because it’s already a struggle for an independent artist to make it day to day, let alone when you’re constantly investing in yourself and music projects.” said Madden.

For Madden, and many other artists in her position, receiving support and encouragement from organisations such as Fine Music Radio, SIMA and the SIWJF is invaluable.

“Organisations like that really help to build your profile, meet new contacts within the industry and gain exposure to a new audience,” explained Madden, “It’s a privilege to be among these international names who are standards in the industry and people who are so great at their craft.”

When it comes to women in jazz SIMA in particular have had a long standing dedication to increasing the number of women performing in and around Sydney. They have done this through their Young Women’s Jazz Orchestra as well as a number of Young Women’s Jazz Workshops.

As Frances explained, “I’ve always felt like women are a minority in the jazz genre, especially locally here in Sydney. I think that’s slowly changing though thanks to SIMA’s programs as I’ve noticed more women coming through learning instruments because they now have this safe space to practice and perform.”

Having a safe space to develop young female artists is particularly important according to Madden, who from past experience says, “it can be hard to compete with the male energy and the general competitiveness that comes with jazz and virtuosic playing.”

The hope is that by showcasing the amazing talent on offer at the SIWJF more women and young girls will be inspired to take up instruments and perform in the genre. In order to help do this SIMA have ensured that prices for the shows have all been kept within a reasonable range.

“Obviously we’ve got to cover the costs of the musicians but we’re a not-for-profit, we just want it to be accessible for anyone to come and see the world class music we’re presenting,” said Hauptmann, “Nothing beats going out to see live music so we hope that people trust in our program enough that they understand that the stuff they might not have heard of will be really good and worth taking a chance on.”

Frances Madden Top Picks

  • Terri Lyne Carrington
  • Nadje Noordhuis – “I think her recordings are beautiful so I definitely want to catch her show.”

Zoe Hauptmann Top Picks

  • Jen Shyu – “I’ve seen her once before live and I still think about that show. Her show really is a full experience, it’s almost a theatre experience because she incorporates a lot of movement and dance.”
  • Terri Lyne Carrington – “This is only the second time she’s been out to Australia and she’s just a world class musician so you shouldn’t miss that.”
  • Frances Madden – “Her show has actually proven incredibly popular, so much so we may need to add a second show for her.”

Nov 8-18. Various Venues. $5-$66. Tickets & Info: