(Photo by Michel Piedallu 2019)

Michael McQuaid plays jazz and swing from the 1920s and 30s with remarkable energy and originality.

An Australian multi-instrumentalist resident in London, he performs on clarinet, saxophones and trumpet with incredible hot combination ‘The Vitality Five’, his own ‘Melodians’ and ‘Swing Stars’, and the recently formed ‘Michael McQuaid Saxophone Quartet’.

McQuaid also tours the world as a featured artist and bandleader, featuring with his own groups and with the contemporary greats of 1920s and 1930s jazz – Keith Nichols, Vince Giordano, Bob Wilber, Spats Langham, Andy Schumm, Bob Barnard, Jon-Erik Kellso, Martin Litton, Bent Persson, Duke Heitger, Geoff Bull, Josh Duffee, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the Alex Mendham Orchestra and many more.

Born in 1981, McQuaid began performing with professional bands at the age of 15. He was mentored by many of Australia’s finest jazz musicians, including Ade Monsbourgh, Tom Baker, Graeme Bell and Paul Furniss.

Since then, McQuaid has established himself as an acclaimed artist at top jazz events around the world, including appearing as a bandleader at the prestigious Wangaratta Festival Of Jazz aged just 21. He was nominated for the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist Of The Year 2006 by Graeme Bell AO, MBE, after whom the awards are named.

In 2004, he formed ‘Michael McQuaid’s Red Hot Rhythmakers’ to play vintage big band jazz. This band toured Europe in June/July 2008 to widespread acclaim, and has released two albums. They performed at Hamer Hall, one of Australia’s finest concert halls, in 2015 and 2017, along with special guests ‘Echoes of Harlem’, featuring many of Melbourne’s finest swing dancers.

As part of the captivating swing quartet ‘The Sweet Lowdowns’, McQuaid received the Bell Award for Classic Jazz Album Of The Year 2008 for their second album, Cuttin’ Capers.

‘Michael McQuaid’s Late Hour Boys’, a band showcasing the music of Aussie jazz pioneer Ade Monsbourgh, toured Europe in 2010, appearing at the acclaimed Jazz Ascona festival in Switzerland, Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival in the UK, and the Riverboat Jazz Festival in Silkeborg, Denmark. They also appeared in Holland during October 2015, along with Italian guest multi-instrumentalist Mauro Porro.

Since relocating to London, Michael McQuaid has many new projects on the go – he may play music inspired by the past, but his focus is definitely on making music for the present – and the future.

‘Michael McQuaid should be a household name among traditional jazz fans. He’s one of the top reedmen of this generation, and a force behind many wonderful projects…’ (Joe Bebco, editor of the Syncopated Times, US)

‘…an acknowledged authority on this era of music…swinging…sensually lush‘ (Steve Robertson, broadcaster and jazz critic, Portland, US)

‘A fixture on the national jazz scene, he has also impressed overseas critics. So impressive, whether it’s the light sound of his Lester Young-inflected tenor or his fluid clarinet. A rare talent!’ (Kevin Jones, Australian jazz writer)

‘…one of those youthful heroes who can play a shopful of instruments…’ (Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives, New York, US)

‘…a first-class jazz improviser…’ (Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives, New York, US)

Influences and inspirations (in no particular order)


Johnny Dodds

Omer Simeon

Frank Teschemacher

Fud Livingston

Don Murray

Jimmie Noone

Barney Bigard

Leon Roppollo

George Lewis

Sidney Arodin

Alexandre Stellio

Eugene Delouche

Joe Marsala

Irving Fazola

Jimmy Lytell

Pee Wee Russell


Chu Berry

Coleman Hawkins

Lester Young

Frank Trumbauer

Jimmy Dorsey

Eddie Miller

Johnny Hodges

Benny Carter

Sidney Bechet

Adrian Rollini

Pete Pumiglio

Bobby Davis

Bud Freeman


Bix Beiderbecke

Louis Armstrong

Jabbo Smith

Bobby Hackett

Tommy Ladnier

George Mitchell

Red Allen

Punch Miller

Phil Napoleon

Joe Smith

Red Nichols