Perspectives on the Melbourne International Women's Jazz Festival


  • Louise Denson Queensland Conservatorium



Australian jazz, women in jazz, jazz festivals


This paper examines the significance of the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival as a long-established annual event highlighting the contributions of women jazz musicians to Australian music culture. Nine women were interviewed about their experiences with MWIJF as performers, composers and/or organizers, as were the founder of the festival and current CEO. The importance of the festival to the participating artists’ creative and career development and its role in supporting emerging women artists are revealed through their comments. The festival is contextualized with reference to the historical experiences of women jazz musicians both in Australia and internationally.

Author Biography

  • Louise Denson, Queensland Conservatorium

    Louise Denson is a Senior Lecturer in Jazz Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium, Brisbane, where she teaches aural studies, jazz composition, piano and improvisation. Her Doctorate (2014) focused on the influence of her experiences as a woman in jazz on the development of her compositional voice. She holds a B. A. in Music (St. Francis Xavier University), and an MMus (New England Conservatory), where she studied with Paul Bley, Bevan Manson and Joe Maneri. Denson is a practicing musician as well as an academic. She has released four CDs under her own name, and has won awards for her work including the Queensland Sunnie Award for Best Jazz Recording for Clean Start (2003). Her composition ‘Time to Be’ (Denson/James) won the QSong Pinnacles Award for Best Jazz Composition (2007). In 2014, she presented a three-movement commissioned suite for jazz quartet at the Brisbane International Jazz Festival. Denson’s compositions include art songs, saxophone quartets and many jazz tunes and arrangements. Her music has been performed by the Griffith Trio, Southern Cross Soloists, the Barega Saxophone Quartet and new music group Collusion. Denson has collaborated with many of Australia’s finest musicians, including Sandy Evans, Adrian Cunningham and Julien Wilson.


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How to Cite

Denson, L. (2015). Perspectives on the Melbourne International Women’s Jazz Festival. Jazz Research Journal, 8(1-2), 163-181.