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Easter Jazz returns to Tauranga

National Youth Jazz Competition Manager Liam Ryan with General Manager Mandy Ryan and Festival Manager Marc Anderson.

Live jazz music accompanied the launch of the 58th National Jazz Festival programme at the Mount Social Club Jazz Jam this week.

The Tauranga Jazz Society has a monthly Wednesday evening jazz event providing local musicians with the opportunity to play together and develop their musicianship as well as grow the jazz community in Tauranga, so it provided the perfect setting to launch this year’s festival programme.

“Last year was a difficult year for us all and we are so pleased to be in the position to host the National Jazz Festival this Easter,” says Tauranga Jazz Society General Manager Mandy Ryan.

Tauranga’s 58th National Jazz Festival was one of a string of event cancellations in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The State of National Emergency being declared on March 25 2020 meant all gatherings and public venues were closed due to COVID-19 Alert Levels.

Following the announcement of its cancellation, the society also made the decision to cancel the 43rd National Youth Jazz Competition which was due to be held in April 2020 and was initially postponed and then cancelled. The school bands that had registered for the competition were able to enjoy a free virtual performance workshop with Dr Rodger Fox.

This was the first year in the festival’s 58 year history that the jazz festival has not been able to go ahead, but the organisers remained positively upbeat despite the drop in revenue and financial loss incurred.

Tauranga Jazz Society President Jeff Baker says the support received from major funders Tauranga City Council and TECT ensured the loss was not significant and has enabled the society to continue to plan for future events.

A role change within the festival team this year means that the festival can continue to grow effectively and deliver a wide range of performances effectively. Operations Manager Marc Anderson has stepped up into the Festival Manager role while Mandy Ryan continues as General Manager of the Tauranga Jazz Society.

Marc spoke at the launch of the 2021 festival programme on Wednesday night and acknowledged the work involved in putting together the programme.

“Special thanks to Mandy Ryan, she’s done a lot of work,” says Marc.

Sunset jazz cruise on the Kewpie is one of the festival highlights.

“There’s a lot of fantastic treats in store, starting with the 43rd National Youth Jazz Competition which is on the Wednesday 31 March and Thursday April 1. We’ve got some great shows at Baycourt as well.

“The NZ Army Big Band Jazz Spectacular will be fantastic. And we’ve got ‘Steve Carlin Sings Sinatra’ with The Rodger Fox Big Band.”

Marc also announced a special concert that will be a tribute to Phil Broadhurst. The Kiwi Jazz Legends and the Auckland Jazz Orchestra will celebrate the music of this well-known pianist, composer, educator and broadcaster. Phil was widely respected and much loved by Tauranga Jazz Festival audiences. Phil’s wife Julie Mason will lead the Kiwi Jazz Legends performing Phil’s favourite standards and this will be followed by The Auckland Jazz Orchestra performing a selection of Phil’s recorded works.

Ben Wilcock and the Jelly Rolls, a festival favourite with a lot of boogie woogie mayhem also feature, as well as a ‘Symphony of Jazz’ with the BOP Symphonia, a stunning new music theatre performance ‘Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs Cole Porter’, and funk from Kevin Field’s Supergrooup.

Good Friday will see the return of the TECT Jazz Village at Tauranga Historic Village and the two-day Downtown Carnival Jazz party with more stages than ever before.

Also returning this year is the vintage car parade in downtown Tauranga and the sunset jazz cruises on the Kewpie. At Hotel Armitage there will be an elegant ‘Jazz High Tea with Lady Larisa’ and ‘Jazz & Dine’ with Sam & Loris Duo, and a swinging Big Band ‘Tea Dance : Let the Band Play On!’ to end the weekend.

Tickets for the festival went on sale on Monday January 25, and jazz enthusiasts are reminded to get in early and show their Tauranga Jazz Society membership car to reap the discounted tickets benefit.

More information on the 58th National Jazz Festival can be found at www.jazz.org.nz

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