Review: Jazz Westside

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From the moment you stepped into the vibrant arena of the Jazz Westside Festival in Footscray, it was evident that this event was curated with a deep love and appreciation for jazz music. The atmosphere was electric, buzzing with anticipation and excitement from jazz enthusiasts of all ages.

Jazz Westside
Image: Niasha kills it.

First impressions of the stage are that it looks rather small. However once the music starts all is forgotten and you just get into the music.

Jazz Westside
Image: Jazz Westside stage.

Maddern Square

The festival was set in Maddern Square, a location that flawlessly complemented the soulful sounds of jazz. With its open space the venue allowed the music to flow freely, creating an immersive experience for the audience. The organizers did a fantastic job of setting up a welcoming and lively atmosphere.

Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: Chillin' out at Jazz Westside.

Maddern Square is the perfect size for the Jazz Westside event. Big enough to allow a decent size crowd in and still small enough so it doesn't feel empty. It is nice and enclosed on all four sides allowing for a surprisingly intimate experience.

If the sun stays out the Maddern Square location proves to be a great to just chill, listen to the cool jazz vibes of Jazz Westside and relax with your friends and family.

Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: Artificial grassy knoll at Jazz Westside.


Jazz Westside at Maddern Square has a buzzing atmosphere. The crowd really get into it. The sightly elevated embankments on the left and at the front back let people soak in the atmosphere while those more into it can get up close and personal in front of the stage.

Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: Chillin' out at Jazz Westside.

2023 Line-Up and Performances

The Jazz Westside at Maddern Square had three main performances:

  • Yusupha Ngum and The Affia Band
  • Sylent Nqo and The Experience
Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: NIASHA gettin' into it.

We only managed to stay for the first two acts and NIASHA really kicked ass. Handpicked by Sampa the Great to accompany her on a recent European tour, NIASHA possesses an impressive ability to shift between genres, plumbing the depths of soul, R’n’B, hip-hop and Amapiano.

Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: NIASHA playful.

NIASHA ever the show woman has a magnetic energy and really pulls the audience in with her charismatic performance. Her ability to engage with the crowd is dynamite. NIASHA gives the crowd energy and the crowd gives her energy back. A real crowd pleasing performance and definitely a performer worth seeing live. All credit to her backing band that let her shine without having to take a back step. All up a great performance.

Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: NIASHA summer vibes.

Yusupha Ngum and The Affia Band came on second and had a hard act to follow. Residing in Melbourne, Yusupha Ngum, a Gambian singer-songwriter, and his quintet, The Affia Band, showcase their musical prowess in Afro-fusion, incorporating influences from Yusupha’s extensive background in Afro-fusion jazz, folk traditions, and the unique “mbalax” tradition of West Africa — a rhythmically intense style of dance music native to the region.

Yusupha Ngum Jazz Westside
Image: Yusupha Ngum rattle and hums.

Yusupha Ngum and The Affia Band definitely put the effort in. Maybe it was the intensity of Yusupha Ngum after the feel good factor of NIASHA that made their performance feel a bit jarring.

Yusupha Ngum Jazz Westside
Image: Yusupha Ngum feelin' it.

Yusupha Ngum's backing band (The Affia Band) put in a sterling performance. Very rhythmical in line with the region from which Yusupha hails. Overall Yusupha Ngum and the Affia Band tried to get the crowd revved up and Yusupha did encourage everyone to get involved. Not neccesarily his fault but the rhythmical and sometimes repetitive style probably just isn't my cup of tea. All credit to Yusupha as he was trying his best and his intensity does shine through.

Yusupha Ngum Jazz Westside
Image: Yusupha Ngum emotional.

Getting There

In the heart of Footscray, Maddern Square is 23 minutes drive from Flinders Street Station.

In A Nutshell

The Jazz Westside Festival was an unforgettable experience, providing a perfect blend of soulful music, vibrant atmosphere, and a sense of community among jazz lovers. The organizers' dedication to celebrating and preserving the art of jazz was evident throughout the event, making it a must-attend for anyone with an appreciation for this timeless genre. We left the festival with our hearts full of music and eagerly anticipating next year’s edition. Bravo to all involved for orchestrating such a mesmerizing celebration of jazz!

Niasha Jazz Westside
Image: Jazz Westside.

Jazz Westside 2023 Slideshow

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