It was never going to be a normal Melbourne International Jazz Festival. After all, there was nothing normal about the past two years. Having been forced to cancel in 2020, the festival made the decision to shift the 2021 event from its usual June timeslot to mid-October, perhaps hoping the extra few months might make a difference. The program was duly issued, tickets both offered and sold. Clearly, there would be nothing international about it, though it featured a strong interstate contingent. But in the end, lockdowns ensued, and October came and went. That might well have been the end of it. But, with tenacious resolve, MIJF re-grouped and scheduled a heavily stripped-down program for early December, this time playing it safe by sticking almost exclusively to local musicians. There were few complaints. Advance bookings were strong in a city long deprived of live music, with some performances selling out within hours of the program’s launch.