Melbourne will become home to jazz royalty in June when legendary Grammy Award-winning American vocalist Patti Austin and Australia’s own James Morrison join forces with the MSO to pay homage to the landmark musical partnership between Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
This special event – exclusive to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival – will mark the opening night of the Jazz Festival’s 20th year.
Both jazz giants in their own right, the collaboration between Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong was the pinnacle of the 1950s jazz scene.
Celebrating the centennial of Fitzgerald’s birth, Austin and Morrison will perform timeless hits from the Great American Songbook, unforgettably realised with the lush textures and rich colours of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Northey.
Few performers have the credentials to pull off a fitting and genuinely thrilling tribute to “The First Lady of Song” – Ella Fitzgerald – but Grammy Award-winner Patti Austin possesses the heritage, experience and voice to do so.
Speaking to the Herald Sun from her LA rehearsal studio Patti said: ‘There’s never ever a shortage of material from Ella’s repertoire between the ’30s and ’70s. There’s a lot of stuff to choose from, which is daunting.’
‘We’ve structured the show and what we’re playing and tell stories in between to justify and weave it all together.’
‘Standing in front of a symphony orchestra is like standing in front of a freight train coming at you — it’s insane then when you’re doing all these beautiful ballads with the string section behind playing beautiful things, it’s amazing and you’re playing to people who are strictly there to hear the music.’
Since debuting at the Apollo Theatre at the tender age of four and with the encouragement of her godparents Dinah Washington and Quincy Jones, Austin’s six-decade career has seen her work with artists as diverse as Randy Brecker, Michael Jackson and George Benson.
Australia’s James Morrison is an internationally-renowned virtuoso trumpeter who has performed, recorded and collaborated with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis; and has performed at some of the world’s leading jazz clubs and venues.
One of jazz’s most versatile artists, Morrison has performed at the White House for International Jazz Day and performed with artists as diverse as Phil Collins, INXS and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Watch James Morrison perform with the MSO in A Celebration of Ella and Louis.