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WANGARATTA JAZZ FESTIVAL PREVIEW (Scroll down for the usual material) "Wang" is almost upon us again, and the CHJ team will be there in force. Wang never fails to please, no matter what the program looks like in advance. There's too much on offer to cover all of it here - full details can be found on the Wang web site. This highly personal and idiosyncratic preview outlines what CHJ is especially looking forward to at this year's festival: * Pianist AARON CHOULAI featured in the very first Wang we attended. This is our first chance to hear him since then, and to get a sense of the impact of the Japanese scene on his style. Great local rhythm section in his trio! * Another pianist, AlISTER SPENCE and his long-standing trio are an institution of the Australian jazz scene, and always a pleasure to hear. Very inventive. * BERARDI-FORAN-KARLEN is a relatively new project featuring vocalist Kristin Berardi, pianist Sean Foran and saxophonist Rafael Karlen. As you can see from the list of gigs on the right, we saw then in June at the Capital Jazz Project and so are in a position to recommend them highly. Very sensitive and delicate music. * BLOW is a quintet of old stagers (Ted Vining - drums; Bob Sedergreen - piano) and young 'uns (Peter Harper - alto saxophone, flute; Ian Dixon - trumpet; Gareth Hill - bass) who produce rollicking good and thoroughly enjoyable music. * CHJ likes jazz singers (unlike some people we know), and bass players too, and so we're looking forward to hearing GIAN SLATER & LINDA OH reprise their memorable duo from the 2011 festival. This was really a lovely combination. On that occasion I wasn't in a position to hear it all. I don't intend to make that mistake twice! * HAMMERHEAD is a band we missed at the Capital Jazz Project this year, due to a clash and photographic obligation elsewhere. But we heard very good reports, so we don't intend to miss out twice. Jason Bruer (tenor saxophone), Andrew Robertson (alto saxophone), Phil Slater (trumpet), Greg Coffin (piano), Matt Greubner (bass) and Duncan Archibald (drums). * We've heard and read a lot about the LLOYD SWANTON : AMBON project, and are very keen to hear it ourselves. Lloyd is a versatile and inventive player and this new project is attracting a lot of attention and comment. A very large ensemble containing some big names. * Bass is this year's instrument in the NATIONAL JAZZ AWARDS. There are some excellent young bassists in the semi-finals. If the ones that we are familiar with are any guide - Sam Anning, Alex Boneham, Thomas Botting, Karl Dunnicliff - then I don't envy the judges. It's good so see a couple of females in the competition, although Hannah James is a surprise omission. I think Alex will be hard to beat, but my track record in picking the winner is shocking. * Space prevents us going on and listing all the acts, but don't forget the Chris Cody Quartet, the Dave Goodman Quartet, the Jackson Harrison Trio with Phil Slater, the well-known stand-up comedian Joseph Tawadros, who plays oud between gags, Linda Oh's Sun Project, Mike Nock and Dave Friesen, and Zac Hurren plays the music of the late, great Dave Ades. * DISCOVERING NEW STUFF is one of the pleasures of going to Wang. These are artists and projects that we've never heard of before and only discover once there. Surprises like these are often the most memorable part. The CyberHalides (cyber-hay-ligh-dz) Jazz Blog documents and promotes live jazz - mostly in Australia, particularly Canberra with its lively jazz scene. The Index of Musicians & Bands lists all the musicians and bands appearing on this site. Coverage of new gigs is usually announced on Facebook. Jazz musicians may use the images and commentary on this site on their websites at no charge, provided that my logo is retained on the images to provide attribution, and you let me know when you do. In return I ask for a link from your website to jazz.cyberhalides.com . This applies only to musicians and only on their websites, i.e. no other reuse or publication without prior written consent.