Opening Gala Night at the Tauranga Jazz Festival was a treat. Vocalist, Jackie Ryan from New York was supported by the fabulous Phil Broadhurst Quartet. They are a New Zealand group of musicians who have lived and played overseas and of course around Australasia. Sophisticated sassy jazz vocals from Jackie Ryan combined with brilliant musicians. Jackie introduced her songs with some history about them and also sang some songs in Spanish. The whole evening was classy and professional. I could almost believe I was in a New York jazz nightclub and not at Baycourt in Tauranga. (I have a vivid imagination). Standout musician was the saxophonist along with Phil Broadhurst’s masterful touch at the piano.
On Saturday afternoon we danced with half of Tauranga to the funk/soul grooves of The Hipstamatics on the Strand. The drummer, Cam, changed from classic jazz white shirt and trousers the night before for a funky headband, t-shirt and shorts for this band. What an aerobic workout. Surely one of the most hardworking bands on the circuit. Three vocalists, high energy stage moves and great rhythm and horn sections. They had the crowd singing and dancing. If you wanted classic jazz, Queen City Big Band were in Red Square and there were three other acts to follow on the Strand as well as quieter music in Grey Street.
The National Youth Jazz Competition held at Baycourt is one of the most amazing venues to showcase school bands and many Tauranga students have won various awards over the years. This year we had our own winning vocalist from Tauranga Girls’ College. I remember sitting watching the competition as a teenager and hosting pupils from Mana College in Wellington and since then competition has grown bigger and better. The quality of the combos and big bands is superb.
On Sunday down to the Historic Village. Dodgy weather but still plenty of music happening. I have seen Frank Gibson Jnr playing drums in many different bands over the 52 years of the festival Here he was with his own Quartet and still a cool drummer on the main stage at the Village Great jazz and a great venue. The trees keep the shade or the rain off. Preservation Hall upstairs had the Tait Kora Band from Whakatane and later an acoustic duo, Radius. Down in the courtyard the Dixie band had a great following and the traders lining the streets were busy. The Incubator had Tracey Collins playing accordian at the door and an exhibition of music themed paintings on cut out instrument shapes entitled ‘Jambalaya’.
We went back to the Strand later on Sunday afternoon but the rain was really starting to set in. Caught three great acts on the Strand stages but my pick was the Kelly Ballard Quartet. Kelly is a former Tauranga student who now studies at NZ School of Music in Wellington. He is a brilliant drummer who has won many awards and had three of his fellow students with him playing keyboards, double bass and saxaphone. I would have loved to see them play again at the Village on Monday but was unable to go.
Just a note about the Village in the future. I wonder what will happen when the commercial development opposite the Village takes over the remaining area that has been used for carparking for years. Maybe some good public relations info and park and ride buses will get us out of our cars and using public transport to get to events around our city.
BY DIANE HUME-GREEN