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SIMA Announces Its Jazz NOW Summer Season

Jazz Now Summer audiences will enjoy inspirational music across a range of new and established venues.

SIMA Announces Its Jazz NOW Summer Season

Explore the Sydney Improvised Music Association's (SIMA) Jazz NOW Summer Season program and uncover the secrets of Sydney's local music scene.

Artistic Director Zoe Hauptmann says of the program "Despite the ongoing challenges facing the live music sector, SIMA continues its unwavering 35-year commitment to presenting high-quality contemporary music to Sydney audiences. This is what we do best".

According to Hauptmann, Sydney is home to an exceptional wealth of local talent, many who have returned home since touring circuits were grounded due to COVID. As a national organisation, ongoing border restrictions have reduced the number of interstate artists SIMA can present, however, Hauptmann believes Sydney is "spoilt for choice" when it comes to first-rate local acts. She adds "We are also grateful to the number of fantastic small live music venues who have continued to operate during these incredibly difficult circumstances, despite reduced audience capacities".

In one of SIMA's most diverse and eclectic programs to date, Jazz Now Summer audiences will enjoy inspirational music across a range of new and established venues. Hauptmann says "Previously the Sound Lounge at the Seymour Centre was our regular weekend haunt, but since moving to Joynton Avenue Creative Centre we've had the freedom to spread our wings".

Anchoring the program is Contemporary Underground, a mini-series held over four consecutive days at Mary's Underground (former site of The Basement). Headlining the series is Tina Harrod, backed by the power of a ten-piece band. Harrod, a resident of Scotland Island who rarely performs in Sydney these days, has been compared to the greats Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. She has been cited by the Sydney Morning Herald as being "one of Australia's two really great soul and R&B singers" alongside Renee Geyer. In a homecoming of sorts, Harrod will take to the venue's stage again, for the first time since the legendary jazz club closed its doors in 2018.

An association that dates back three decades, as a young singer Harrod would dream of performing at The Basement. Their impressive program would reliably include jazz, soul and funk music from all over the world including giants such as Prince, Ricki Lee Jones, Dizzy Gillespie and Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.

Since then, Harrod has performed at the venue dozens of times, releasing three of her critically acclaimed albums there in the last 30 years. In total Tina has released some five critically acclaimed albums, demonstrating that she is a true evolutionary artist who never shies away from reinventing herself through a variety of genres, whilst always maintaining her deep soul roots.

She has fond memories of holding a two-year residency with partner and bassist, the late Jackie Orszaczsky, with The Grandmasters in the mid-90s. Harrod recalls it was a specialist music venue "run by quirky people who really loved music".

The team from Mary's continue the tradition, ensuring the soul of the venue and décor has been maintained, while revamping its stage and sound system for a superior listening experience. "To this day it remains one of the best rooms to experience live music in Sydney" says Hauptmann.

Also featured as part of the Contemporary Underground series is Ethio-jazz funk outfit Mister Ott's 'In the Flow' Album Launch, blues guitarist Ray Beadle with the master of the Hammond organ, Clayton Doley. As well as a double bill featuring Declan Kelly and Frejya Garbett in the roots-based Melting Mamas and Aloha No and a plethora of up-and-coming support acts in including Zayab Wilson, Yannick Koffi and Bernice Tesara. Contemporary Underground takes place at Mary's Underground from Wednesday 24 February - Saturday 27 February.

In a selection of exclusive summer events, SIMA continues to champion excellence in the field of jazz and improvised music. Composer and saxophonist Paul Cutlan is among Australia's most prolific improvisers and composers. His work, across classical, jazz, contemporary pop and improvised genres defies classification. His new album, 'Living', was written for jazz ensemble and string quartet and will take place at 4pm on Sunday 7 February at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta.

A restless mind which ponders the implausible presents boundless opportunities for composer and saxophonist Matt Keegan. His latest offering, 'Vienna Dreaming', is an elegant suite of electric-acoustic salon music based on the journey of his great grandfather fleeing Austria to Australia in 1940. The project, which premieres on Sunday 28 February at Mary's Underground, features the talents of Ben Hauptmann (guitar) and Veronique Serett (violin).

Rising star Hilary Geddes is one of the most exciting and sought-after guitarists to emerge on the Sydney scene in recent times. A contemporary of Mike Nock and Barney McAll, as well as being a member of the indie outfit The Buoys, Hilary is a sonic sculptor of exceptional ability. Her new solo guitar work, 'Upstream, Down River', was composed as part of TURA's 2020 No Border's commissions program and will premiere at Old 505 Theatre on Thursday 11 March, followed by a performance by her quartet. The premiere will feature a new video work of the Nepean River, as well as field recordings taken from the site which will be incorporated into the live performance.

One of Sydney's most cherished jazz ensembles, The catholics, celebrate their 30th Anniversary. Led by bassist Llyod Swanton (The Necks) and featuring a who's who of Sydney greats including Sandy Evans, James Greening and Hamish Stuart, the ensemble is among a small group of Australian acts whose universally joyful music has entertained audiences for three continuous decades. Celebrations will take place at two shows on Saturday 20 March at Foundry616 in Ultimo.

And finally, conjuring a bohemian cabaret club of the 1950's, Ruby's is a pop-up outdoor music club built behind the award-winning architecture of the Joynton Avenue Creative Centre in Zetland. From gypsy swing to a New Orleans street parade or rip-roaring rhythm and blues, the park-side bar and stage promises free flowing music every second Friday night from 6pm until March 26 - bar sponsored by Mountain Goat and food by The Pastizzi Kitchen. Now that is something to make a splash about!

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