The West

Graham Wood is all set to jazz up Perth.

The local jazz luminary is the driving force behind the first Perth International Jazz Festival, which will end a 10-year drought for the local music scene when it is held next month.

The inaugural festival will feature American saxophonist Joe Lovano, Katie Noonan and Vince Jones as the headline acts among the more than 40 jazz concerts from May 24-26.

Wood said the festival would plug a gap in the local music calendar after the collapse of broad-based jazz festivals in York and Fremantle, where they were held as part of the Perth International Arts Festival in the early 2000s.

The international jazz pianist, founder of the Ellington Jazz Club and head of music at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, said there were about 35 jazz festivals around Australia - but none in WA.

"Even Dubbo (country NSW) has got one," Wood said.

Backed by government and corporate sponsors, he expected to establish the new fixture as one of Australia's best and most popular jazz festivals within five years.

Perth had matured greatly in the past few years, the central city population and small bar scene had grown and there was a constant stream of jazz talent emerging from WAAPA, Wood said.

"Perth is recognised as a major source of jazz talent nationally and internationally and it will be good to capitalise on that," he said.

"People are going out more and perhaps checking out things that they otherwise wouldn't.

"It all bodes well for the Perth International Jazz Festival and the arts in general."

To broaden the festival's appeal, most events will be free and include such family programming as a "cushion concert" for children.

Venues will range from Perth Concert Hall to Brookfield Place and Weld Square.

"I'm passionate about the concept of jazz festivals and we want this one to be as broad in its range as possible," Wood said.

The West Australian

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