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Jazz hands for Martinborough

Jazz will be springing up all over the Springtime Jazz Martinborough Festival next month, with venues such as Union Square at the Martinborough Hotel, the Martinborough Brewery and the Village Cafe hosting several pop-up gigs.

The smaller gigs are an important strand of what Jazz Martinborough aims to do, producer Ted Preston said, and reflect the festival’s roots in 2011.

Shortly after the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, festival founder, the late Ian Cresswell, offered members of the Christchurch Jazz School respite from the earthquake-damaged music scenes, inviting them to play in Wairarapa.

“So we invited the student bands from Christchurch and five of them came and it was a fabulous weekend.

The relationship with Christchurch Jazz School led organisers to think how they could support the development of jazz talent in Wairarapa.

“We’ve developed an extra focus on young musicians in Wairarapa and we’ve always had young Wairarapa musicians as part of our festival,” Preston explained.

One such group of musicians is the nine-piece Kuranui Jazz Band from Kuranui College in Greytown.

They will be popping up at Martinborough Brewery during the festival weekend of September 1-2.

The invitation to the Kuranui Jazz Band to play at Jazz Martinborough came after successful gigs at Featherston Booktown and the ‘Next Big Thing’ showcase earlier this year.

“It’s a real boost for them,” the band’s manager and teacher Saali Marks said.

“These kids are committed to their music, they’ve put the extra miles in and they practise at home. To perform to the public says that what they are doing is worth it.”

Preston is excited about the health of the jazz scene in the region, which he partially attributes to the development of the jazz schools in Aotearoa.

“The effect of that has been snowballing a bit,” Preston said. “We have a lot more interest in jazz from students and certainly from the schools who now put together jazz combos on a regular basis.”

The festival’s association with jazz artist, Roger Fox, who is its patron, is also having a positive impact on the region’s jazz landscape.

“He gives us the heads-up on the various musicians,” Preston said, as well as supporting the festival’s scholarship programme, which provides young jazz artists with the opportunity to attend the New Zealand Jazz Foundation workshop at Victoria University.

The festival’s headline acts are the internationally acclaimed Nairobi Trio and the Lucien Johnson Quartet.

For full details of the festival and ticket sales visit www.jazzinmartinborough.co.nz

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