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Jazz musician indulging in inspiration


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The hills, the birds, the rain, the sea and all the things that make Wairarapa Wairarapa, feature in a suite of work singer-songwriter Jhan Lindsay is putting together in the quiet seclusion of the New Zealand Pacific Studio artists’ retreat in north Wairarapa.

When you visit her in the lovely cottage as the sun breaks through the mist after a heavy rain, you think what a way to spend the school holidays.

Lindsay has taught music at schools in Wairarapa, and in 2016 was the headline act at the Martinborough Jazz Festival.

“This is my first residency and I chose to do it in the school holidays, and in winter,” she said.

She said, the international residency centre in Mt Bruce founded in 2001, was an iconic place that she had heard about for years. Lindsay is the current Masterton Fellow.

She is there for three weeks and, so far, it has been what she hoped it would be – a place with minimal interruptions, a place to “eat soup in front of a fire and write music”.

“It just feels so indulgent to have the time and the space,” she said.

Lindsay grew up in Auckland but has lived in Wellington since 1999, when she went to the jazz school there.

She said it was harder for musicians in Wellington to have studio space these days and she had lost her last two studios to demolition and development.

“So many iconic places that have been there for musicians and artists in the past are no longer there,” she said.

Musicians need a lounge-sized area for a jam space, she said.

“The older, colder buildings that have been around for decades housing musicians and developing sound aren’t there in Wellington,” she said.

That made the residency in Wairarapa even more special.

On Sunday, she performed one of the works, ‘The Sea’, at the Aratoi Wesley Wing.

It will form part of the body of work created during the residency, and the entire body of work will be performed at a concert in a home in Masterton on July 27.

‘The Sea’, a slide-blues song using altered tuning, is about fishermen’s relationship with the sea and the idea of being married to the sea.

The series draws on a range of music genres, perhaps best described as having jazz undertones.

She speaks poignantly about the piece she is writing honouring World War I veterans from the region.

“When will thyne eyes see the hills again,” Lindsay sings in the room full of music equipment in the retreat.

“It’s their longing for home represented in that song. It represents nature’s elements and the majesty of the hills,” she said.

The suite of works will be bound in a book and will be scored for a small ensemble, suitable for secondary pupils to play.

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