Liam Ryan: Jazz Passion: 54th National Jazz Festival Tauranga


Liam Ryan: music professional and dedicated supporter of Tauranga Jazz.

Photo0505I’m meeting Liam Ryan, the Director of the National Youth Jazz Competition, at Alimento Cafe on 1st Avenue Tauranga. I’ve never met Liam before so at the appointed hour when a besuited man enters Alimento I leap to my feet and introduce myself – it’s not Liam. But, we both laugh He has no idea what the person he’s meeting looks like. He positions himself at the very street edge of the cafe at a table under one of the umbrellas rather like a trapdoor spider waiting for its unsuspecting prey. I continue to lurk inside at my appointed table. I’ve never worked out whether the tables are too high, the chairs too low or I’m anatomically incorrect but I have to sit on my “cardi” to be able to comfortably reach and write.

I order English breakfast tea and a muffin containing vegetables – a meal in itself. I start to gobble down the muffin before my interview subject arrives. I find it difficult to look intelligent and shovel up muffin crumbs so I’m hoping it’s all gone before Liam shows up.

As the last of the muffin crumbs fall onto the table, the floor or into my mouth a man of my vintage appears. Not besuited but what we call “casual smooth” – a black and white shirt over immaculate jeans, a beautiful contemporary brief case and he’s professional, charming, articulate and incredibly funny. Why am I telling you this? Well Liam Ryan isn’t at the younger end of the age continuum but if ever there was an advertisement for ensuring the mature continue to participate in the “workforce” it has to be him.

I know absolutely nothing about Liam. I’d left telephone messages for several of the Tauranga Jazz Society Executive Committee. I want to find out why someone would put so much time, energy and passion into an on-going music event. Nothing happens until I hear the energetic and enthusiastic voice of Mandy Ryan, Jazz Festival Marketing/Sponsorship Co-ordinator suggesting that the person to talk to about “passion  for music and jazz in particular”  has to be her husband Liam.

I can see the little boy, violin strapped across his back, riding through Hagley Park on his way to music lessons. I understand exactly what Liam tells me about the development of discipline through the ritual of practice requirements. The progression through Christchurch music institutions, orchestras, and contemporary bands to the Narcs of the 1980’s. Today we have a jazz ,and rhythm and blues keyboard player. Through his own record company Torch Music, he’s a musical producer and a musical collaborator.

Liam Ryan is also a creative industry professional and educator developing tertiary degree programmes and involved in a diverse range of music and creative activities. He talks to me about the $120m dedicated by Helen Clark to the development of the arts. “Let’s get arts happening” and the concomitant social and cultural capital. Liam’s been part of some of the most exciting times in the New Zealand creative landscape and from a Tauranga perspective, wherever he’s been living, he’s kept coming to Tauranga to support the National Jazz Festival Tauranga. That’s passion and dedication to jazz.

39th National Youth Jazz Competition 2016

39th National Youth Jazz Competition 2016

What’s his current role? This year’s Jazz Festival Programme features the contemporary brights and in its multi-coloured pages Liam is described as the National Youth Jazz Competition Director. In previous years when “they” have said to me that jazz is dying I’ve pointed to the performances of the young people in the youth programme and the age spectrum of the paid public performers – jazz is alive, well, kicking and ticking.

Liam tells me the youth focus has been expanded this year. The programme generally showcases the young performers’ world class talent in the secondary schools focused youth jazz competition and the New Zealand School of Music Big Band One. Senior music educators from Auckland, Victoria and Christchurch tertiary institutions are the competition performance judges. This year there’s also a primary and intermediate age workshop. Jazz Educator Rodger Fox is conducting a Sunday morning workshop. Liam believes the youth activities have a tangible role in increasing the profile of the Tauranga Jazz Festival not only by expanding the scope of the Festival but also connecting the Festival and its personnel with national creative and tertiary organisations and professionals.

Mioho Wahda features at the 2016 Tect Jazz Village

Mioho Wahda features at the 2016 Tect Jazz Village

Liam is also definite in his opinion that Tauranga offers visitors the opportunity to hear amazing music in a beautiful setting –  New Zealand and Bay of Plenty environment contributing to the overall experience of the Jazz Festival event. I recount how much I enjoyed last year’s TECT Jazz Village at the Historic Village, 17th Avenue Tauranga. The Festival packed the cobbled area of the Village. There was a fabulous buzz and vibe. Courtesy of the Tauranga Multicultural Society and with the help of Incubator Collective member Grant Levett, I had a “stall” and handed out ARTbop flyers and information to a happy crowd. As I walked up the hill to my car the strains of the beautiful Fantine swirled around me. It was a magic day. This year there’s another fabulous TECT Jazz Village afternoon starting at 12noon with music, food art and craft stalls. Take a look below for details of the day’s programme.

An absolute highlight has to be The New Zealand Jazz Awards – “the cream of NZ Jazz on Display!” It’s described as New Zealand’s Jazz Grammys. An addition to the programme on the waterfront are the Saturday and Sunday night Hurricane Party events. “Get on down to the waterfront and dance the night away with the best jazz, soul & funk in Australasia!” The energy overloaded Hipstamatics feature on the Sunday with Sex on Toast from Melbourne. I’ll be down on the Strand for the Downtown Carnival on Saturday 26th March at 12pm-1.30pm to see Andrea Lisa (see my rave review from 2015 when serendipity took me to Greerton and Andrea Lisa & Band). On Thursday night 24th March between 5.30pm and 9pm Andrea Lisa & Band are the feature of the free Dinner in the Domain at the Papamoa Domain.

When I spoke with Liam, he and Mandy had only been in their “new” home for two and half weeks. Mandy Ryan was right: you couldn’t get a more passionate advocate for jazz and the National Jazz Festival Tauranga than Liam Ryan. This is the fifty-fourth Jazz Festival here in Tauranga is a Tauranga Jazz Society Incorporated event. It was created from the passion and talent of the Tauranga musical community and it looks as if contemporary passion and talent is not only keeping it going but making sure it thrives and expands. Look for the eye-blinding and unmissable multi-coloured programmes available around the Bay of Plenty or look on-line at

Photo0481Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.


24-28 MARCH 2016

Check out this programme

Check out this programme


Photo05075.30pm -9pm Papamoa Domain Dinner in the Domain

Andrea Lisa & Band. An opportunity to hear (free) the fabulous and talented Andrea Lisa and her band. Huge range of music, great vocals, an unmissable music experience!

6pm Baycourt X Space: Andrew London Trio  

Kiwiana Swing. Wrapped up in a good-time 1940’s swing are the pleasantly satirical songs of Andrew London.

8pm Baycourt Addison Theatre: Kokomo’s 25th Anniversary Concert

Kokomo-style blues & Jazz. Supported by a great line up of musical friends  including Marian Arts and Robbie Laven


Lex French Quartet

Lex French Quartet

9am-4.30pm Baycourt Addison Theatre 39th National Youth Jazz Competition Outstanding secondary school jazz – Combos

6pm Baycourt X Space Lex French Quartet.

An all-star quartet with Wellington trumpeter Lex French play an eclectic range from hard post-bop originals and standards

8pm Baycourt X Space Himmerland with Nuala Kennedy

An international lineup of folk/jazz musicians joined by Irish singer and flute player Nuala Kennedy. A melting pot of music.

8pm Baycourt Addison Theatre

The USA-UK Connection Chris Cain & Roy Phillips – Jazz & Blues


9am-4.30pm Baycourt Addision Theatre 39th National Youth Jazz Competition Secondary School jazz continues with – Big Bands

12pm – 6pm The Strand & Tauranga Waterfront

Downtown Carnival Five outdoor stages, cafes and bars adjacent, Family Fun Zone Masonic Park, Brass & Nickel Vehicles in Willow Street from 11.30am

Photo05084.30pm-5.30pm Baycourt Addison Theatre 29th National Youth Jazz Competition

39th National Youth Jazz Competition – Prize giving and cameo appearance by NZ School of Music Big Band

6pm Baycourt X Space The New Zealand Jazz Awards

The Tui Award for Best Jazz Album of the Year. Host band The Neutrino Funk Experience A superb concert from some of the finalists and the country’s finest jazz exponents

7.30pm Hurricane Stage, Tauranga Waterfront

Hurricane Party -Saturday Sal Valentine & The Babyshakes and Richter City Rebels Dance the night away until late on the waterfront

8pm Baycourt Addison Theatre Naughty but Nice The sultry jazz of Ali Harper


Another day at the Downtown Carnival

Another day at the Downtown Carnival

Sunday morning, primary and intermediate school aged musicians workshop with leading jazz educator Rodger Fox contact

12pm-6pm The Strand & Tauranga Waterfront Multiple stages, jazz, swing, blues and funk. Street performances Carnival time on the waterfront.

12pm-2pm Trinity Wharf Jazz at Trinity Wharf Lunch with Tangerine AcousticJazz Group

3pm Baycourt Addison Theatre New Zealand School of Music Big Band One & Tauranga Big Band

Festival Favourites Tauranga Big Band join the country’s best up and coming talent from the NZ School of Music jazz majors.

6pm Baycourt X Space Back to Boss & Beyond with Dee DeLuca

Old school Bossa Nova and Afro Blues and Dee DeLuca with jazz guitarist Dixon Nacey.

7.30pm Hurricane Stage, Tauranga Waterfront

Hurricane Party – Sunday Hipstamatics and Sex on Toast Pure Soul-powered funk to dance on the Tauranga waterfront until late

Photo05118pm Baycourt Addison Theatre Finnland (Aus)

The jazz reimagined songs of Neil and Tim Finn from some of Australia’s best jazz performers


Mioho Wahda features at the 2016 Tect Jazz Village

Mioho Wahda features at the 2016 Tect Jazz Village

12pm-8pm TECT Jazz Village

Five performance spaces (Bay News Village Square, New Orleans Music Factory, Hot House Jamming Stage, Preservation Hall, Lafayette Church) A New Orleans Carnival atmosphere of jazz, swing and Dixie in the intimate setting of the cobbled Historic Village. Food, art and craft stalls from 12pm

KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE 54th NATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL Tauranga Contact the Festival on

Phone 07 577 7460



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