Contemporary Jazz In Victoria
Michael discusses the unique aspects of jazz in Victoria as part of the Culture Victoria documentary 'Not for Discos'
Michael Tortoni founder of Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, dubbed by Lonely Planet as "the world's best jazz club", has returned with his new ‘Art Creation' at 27 Leslie Street Brunswick called The Jazzlab.
The Jazzlab dedicates itself to promoting and developing live jazz as an artform as it’s mantra.
Located at the quintessential setting on the corner of a deadend laneway, the Jazzlab was opened by Michael Tortoni on April 7 2017. Formerly of the rock n’ roll era with top charting albums, a string of wild gigs and Countdown appearances, Michael Tortoni (Gemini) starred as the bass playing, platform sporting, lapel and lycra-cladded spunk from the great Aussi rock band Taste. Performing with him were the now world famous Virgil Donati (drums), Ken Murdoch (songwriter, guitar and lead vocals), and Joey Amenta (guitar and lead vocals). The youngest band signed to Warner at the time germinated the musical seed that was to direct his life thereafter. His life in music saw him study classical double bass at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), perform in many and various trios and quartets, and never get distracted by the multitudes of fans from his rock and roll performances. His dedication to the presentation of live music performance had lead him to direct and support Bennetts Lane Jazz Club since its inception until his departure in mid 2015. Michael now continues to direct that passion and commitment into his new jazz club, The Jazzlab. He is also currently the Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and has been on its board since 2001.
Michael based ‘The Jazzlab’ design and sound on Bennetts Lane’s original room which had great natural acoustics and had been host to a number of world famous performers including Prince, Maceo Parker, Kenny Kirkland, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jnr., Paul Grabowsky, Barney McAll and Leroy Jones to name just a few.
The Jazzlab has surpassed all expectations, with 25 years experience, Michael was able to transport all the best features of the original room to create the ultimate live concert club with excellent lines of sight for it’s 216 capacity.
The Jazzlab is host to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Melbourne Women's International Jazz Festival, and the Melbourne Jazz Cooperative. We will be instrumental in presenting residencies for developing recording material, and curating educational programs for live recording studies. We are great supporters of aspiring and emerging talent through presenting assessment performances and graduation recitals from small school bands to large big bands, private and public secondary schools to the nation's best conservatories and universities. We host masterclasses and workshops and present education seminars. We offer our guidance to funding bodies and government agencies, and we sit on panels that determine talent, creativity, dedication and innovation in live music performance.
Please visit us any night to hear top quality live jazz performances from the cutting edge and avant garde to the classics and standards that made the art form great. Our website will tell you about each performance and if you’ve any questions, don't hesitate to email or call us.
Michael Tortoni and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
The Melbourne International Jazz Festival was first held in 1998. Adrian Jackson was artistic director from 1998 until 2004; this run was interrupted in 2002, when the withdrawal of funding by Arts Victoria and the City of Melbourne (advised in November 2001) meant that the program planned for January 2002 had to be cancelled.
However much of the planned festival still went ahead, the City of Melbourne contacted Bennetts Lane Jazz Club Founder Michael Tortoni to ask him if he was interested in taking control of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Tortoni agreed and effectively rescued the festival using his club's infrastructure. Mr Tortoni was appointed chairman in late 2001 and promptly restructured the board. 'The Age Saturday 22 December 2001'-"Jazz Club Owner Rescues Festival" He has remained on the board serving in various roles. Tortoni has been Artistic Director since 2009 and overseen strong audience and revenue growth. The festival now has an enviable reputation globally, featuring the highest calibre musicians in the world. Tortoni currently remains Artistic Director celebrating the festival's 20th anniversary, featuring Tortoni’s new jazz club ‘The Jazzlab” as the Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s flagship club.