Now in its 20th year, the festival gives music lovers an exciting glimpse into the array of styles that encompass jazz. There will be bebop, swing, gypsy jazz, blues and improv, with a hint of salsa that melds into a tasteful mix of past and contemporary styles.

Festival Convener, Alderman Heather Chong, said the festival has become a staple in Clarence’s arts and events program but also a key event in Tasmania.

“The Clarence Jazz Festival is still going strong after 20 years and this would not be the case if the community hadn’t embraced it,” Alderman Chong said.

“A real strength of the Clarence Jazz Festival is that we have nurtured local talent and the local music community.

“From the beginning, we wanted a platform for the fabulous talent that live and work in southern Tasmania and we also wanted to nurture the talent of tomorrow.

“Our scholarship program does just that. We have found some very talented Tasmanian musicians over the years and given them access to established musicians as mentors and provided them with a quality performance opportunity. This creates a real buzz for the musicians but also everyone who have been involved in the process. This year our scholarship recipients are vocalist Aleksander Folvig and saxophonist Felix Grant and I’m really looking forward to seeing them play at the Boardwalk on Friday.”

The festival program will feature one of Australia’s premiere jazz musicians, Paul Williamson, as festival ambassador. Paul has worked with the likes of Dire Straits, Paul Kelly, Vince Jones and the Black Sorrows. His role at the festival is to jam with all our local artists, adding that element of the unknown and unrehearsed. He has hand-picked his favourite local musicians for the festival finale on Sunday 28 February.

This year’s artist in residence is Kelly Ottaway. Local lad Kelly plays piano, keyboards and vibraphone and has been performing for more than 15 years with leading Australian artists. Kelly currently tutors ensemble at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music.

The festival has commissioned Kelly to write and record a big band jazz suite to be performed for the first time.

“The festival tries to provide a fresh approach each year by having an artist in residence program.  In the past we’ve had sculpture, yarn bombing, new media works and a documentary,” Alderman Chong said.

“We have such an array of talent right here on our doorstep, musicians that play all different styles of jazz and it would be a shame not to promote that. I think the people who come to the jazz festival see this and really appreciate it.”

Highlights of the festival include:

  • James Maddock Swing 4 followed by Katy Raucher Ensemble (Sunday 21 February starting at 6pm, Calverton Oval in South Arm)
  • Fiona Stewart and Julius Schwing, followed by Howlin Jim and the Ferocious Three (Monday 22 February from 6pm, Montagu Bay Primary School Oval)
  • Young players night (Friday 26 February from 6pm, Bellerive Boardwalk)
  • Sydney quartet Arabesk, international sounds with a unique and upbeat twist (Friday 26 February and Saturday 27February at 6.30pm in the Jazz Lounge)
  • Jazz for Cows (Saturday 27 February at 1pm in the Jazz Lounge)
  • Liam O’Leary & Co album launch (Saturday 27 February at 2pm, Jazz Lounge)
  • Artist in Residents Kelly Ottoway and his Modern Operative performing the Clarence Jazz Festival Suite (Sunday 28 February at 2.30pm)
  • Paul Williamson Allstars (Sunday 28 February at 5.15pm, Bellerive Boardwalk)

Free outdoor twilight performances will be held around the city giving residents a chance to experience jazz on their doorstep and visitors a chance to see what the city has to offer. This year’s venues for the twilight concerts will be South Arm, Montagu Bay, Lindisfarne and Rosny Farm.

The 200 year old Rosny Barn, becomes the festival club as the Jazz Lounge and the Bellerive Boardwalk comes alive with quality food and wine.

The Clarence Jazz Festival runs from 21 – 28 February and most concerts are free of charge. Information and tickets are available from

Next year marks the Clarence Jazz Festival’s 21st birthday. Stay tuned…

Clarence…the home of jazz in Tasmania.