Legends, locals set to jazz it up in Tauranga

Local musicians Hiro Kobayashi, Alana Turmaine and John Page are ready to let the music flow at the upcoming Port of Tauranga 59th Jazz Festival on from June 19-26. Photo: John Borren.

With the Port of Tauranga 59th Jazz Festival only days away, Bay of Plenty residents and jazz-lovers from around Aotearoa can delight in 175 performances during seven days around the city from June 19-26.

The hot-ticket, get-to gigs are the Baycourt Concerts, the all-new ‘Jazz at the Mount’ outdoor event and the Hurricane Party on Matariki Friday; followed by two-day Downtown Carnival on June 25-26.

One Concert Series act in particular will bring a special moment for the local band behind it and the festival itself.

Tauranga Big Band’s Concert Series ‘Black & Gold’ at Baycourt next Thursday, June 23 at 8pm, will feature the world premiere of their collaboration with local composer Dr Ryan Brake, titled ‘Te Pura - The Guardian Taniwha of Wairoa’.

Never done before

Tauranga Big Band musical director Joe Thomas says the band commissioned the work using taonga puoro – Māori musical instruments. “This entirely-instrumental piece features local taonga puoro artist Jo’el Komene. In fact, Jo’el works at Tauranga Boys’ College with myself and Ryan.

“It’s a collaboration of the artform of taonga puoro and the big band – it hasn’t been done before.”

The piece is inspired by the local Maori legend of Te Pura. “A short explanation is Te Pura was living in the water and some youth went and stole her eggs. She went to seek revenge and decided instead to look after them.

“As a token of their appreciation, they gave her food and came to an agreement that she’d look after the people of Wairoa…no-one from Wairoa has ever drowned in the river,” says Joe, who says the piece was written with the permission of Wairoa marae.

“It’s pretty special. The Tauranga Big Band has such a strong tie with the jazz festival, the jazz festival started here in Tauranga; and the story of Te Pura is from here.

“We’re all local composers and artists – so it’s fitting we premiere it at this festival.” The big band has members ranging in age from 16 to 70 – including two TBC students, five TBC staff and five TBC old boys.

“We’ve got three vocalists and instruments played include trumpets, saxophones, trombones and a rhythm section plus some Latin percussion as well.”

Meanwhile, John Quigley of Nairobi Trio cannot wait to return to play the Downtown Carnival after many years.

Carnival goes indoors

This year the carnival happens inside CBD restaurants and hospitality venues from 12 noon- 6pm June 25-26, with vintage car parade on The Strand at 11am Saturday.

With John on guitar, Peter Koopman on bass, Richard Adams on violin – and all three on vocals – the trio bring an interactive show. “We do a show that combines what we loosely describe as reworked standards in our indomitable style.

“We’ve done 10 albums so we’ve got a lot of original material, and we like to make a strong connection with the audience.

“We’ve been doing it for 35 years so we know how to perform and we absolutely love it – and we feel blessed to be able to still do so.”

‘Jazz at The Mount’

The Michal Martyniuk Trio, however, will bring a total sound of surprises with their gigs at ‘Jazz at The Mount’ on the outdoor stage at ‘Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka’, Mount Maunganui’s urban space, on Matariki Friday, and at the Downtown Carnival in Tauranga CBD.

Polish-born pianist and keyboardist Michal Martyniuk, who has an Auckland University degree in Jazz Performance, makes no apology for mixing up his original material on-stage with Ron Samsom on drums and step-in trio member Ben Turua on double bass.

“Our music is groove based! We’ll play original stuff and a few jazz standards. There will be a lot of improvisation,” says Michal.

 “We make stuff on the spot – it’s a lot of fun. And with Ben replacing Cameron McArthur on double bass for this festival, everything will be really fresh.”

International jazz icon Louis Armstrong once said: ‘If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know’. Tauranga will not have to ask next week!  See the line-up of gigs, events and music at: https://jazz.org.nz Remember – tickets sell fast!


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