Festival returns to its grassroots

By Amy McGillivray

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Dozens of people turned out for the launch of the 52nd National Jazz Festival to be held in Tauranga this Easter.

Markets and music from the Dee DeLuca Quintet provided a festive backdrop for last night's event.

Deb Hill, her mother and an overseas visitor set up camp on the grass to enjoy the music and be part of the occasion.

"It's a lovely night and just the idea of hearing some music, sitting out in the sun and grabbing a bite to eat at the markets drew us down," she said. "It's great. The music is fabulous."

Marketing and promotions co-ordinator Megan Clarkin said the family-friendly launch was an attempt to get back to the community roots of the festival.

"There was a real desire last year to bring the whole event back to its community roots. It was started 50 years ago by a bunch of local musicians who were inspired by what they had seen overseas," she said.

Jazz Society president Darryl Haigh said the evening attracted the diverse audience he was hoping for.

Festival director Becks Chambers said the launch gave people a taste of what was in store.

"It excites people and gets them in that frame of mind."

Ms Clarkin said this year's line-up was world class.

"It's great, really exciting," she said. "We're looking forward to it definitely."

The highlight of this year's festival will be US singer Jackie Ryan.

"She's been heralded as one of the best jazz vocalists of her generation so we're really excited to have her."

Also on show this year would be Wellington-based singer and actor Liz Kirkman performing her show Jezebel of Jazz, a tribute that traces the life of one of the great jazz singers, Anita O'Day.

"It's part concert and part theatre. It's something new," Ms Clarkin said.

It will be the second ever performance of the show.

The Auckland Jazz Orchestra led by trumpeter Mike Booth, with special guest vocalist Caitlin Smith, will also perform.

Other acts to look out for were blues legend Midge Marsden with guitarist Chet O'Connell, Japanese jazz-punk flautist Miho Wada, Australian multi-instrumentalist Adam Page and Australian jazz violinist George Washingmachine and his Sydney-based band, with a special appearance from New Zealand virtuoso jazz violinist Richard Adams.

For more information visit: www.jazz.org.nz.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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