Over a hundred musicians, both local and foreign will join the crowds heading to Waiheke this Easter for the annual Waiheke International Jazz Festival. But as you read through the line-up, you might be wondering whether the label "jazz festival" is the most accurate description.

"It is definitely more than a jazz festival now" says organiser John Quigley, who began running the event in 2011.

"This year I've called it an 'international festival on Waiheke Island with jazz and much more'," he explains with a laugh.

"It's been my goal since I took the festival over to broaden the appeal, and to have some distinct different sessions, so we can include the more full-on jazz, but also have what we call the Good Friday Groove, with artists like Sola Rosa, Iva Lamkum, Annah Mac, and so on."


This year the Good Friday line up includes The Phoenix Foundation, Five Mile Town, Jan Hellriegel, and Kevin Mark Trail and Sharlene Hector (UK).

"I've always wanted to have The Phoenix Foundation on Waiheke, they're a favourite band of mine, so it's great to have them heading up that bill.

" It's not really a jazz afternoon, it's a bit of a family day out, on a public holiday, in a beautiful spot [Rangihoua Estate]."

There is still plenty of jazz on offer across the weekend though, with seven bands on both Saturday and Sunday, playing across three venues as part of the 'Jazzabout' event (you can hop on a bus from one to another), which includes acts like George Washingmachine from Australia, Solid Brew from Germany, Sal Valentine & the Babyshakes, and the Wellington City Shake-'Em-On-Downers, all of whom fit loosely under the jazz heading, but provide plenty of variety.

"The Eastern, from Lyttelton are more country or folk I guess, but a great band, another favourite of mine, so I put them in."

And then there are more formal, intimate evening concerts, with headliners each supported by one other act from the festival, and also The Supper Club, which has a looser, late night vibe.

There's also talk of having music on the ferries for the first time, though that's yet to be confirmed.

"I'm trying to make it a real festival, so there's something on all the time, and plenty to choose from, and to make it easy for people with the buses and ferries. There's always loads of people coming to Waiheke for Easter anyway, but this gives it a bit of a party atmosphere," says Quigley.


"I certainly want to keep the jazz aspect of it going [Quigley himself is part of much-loved local jazz group The Nairobi Trio], but we're also looking to grow the audience, and I was wary about sticking to a traditional jazz line-up too much. This year the Wellington City Shake-'Em-On-Downers are probably the closest thing to that, but they're young, and they're a bit different with their Dixieland-gone-punk thing. I'm trying to make sure we get lots of younger musicians and younger people involved. We're definitely having a bit of fun."

Check out waihekejazzfestival.co.nz for all the details on the line-up and tickets.

On a different side of the charts, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli brings his world-famous voice to these shores in September.

He will be joined by conductor Eugene Kohn and the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra at Auckland's Vector Arena on September 11, where he will perform songs from his latest collection, Passione.

But with 14 solo albums under his belt - and more than 80 million record sales - it will be a varied and welcome return to Bocelli, who last played in New Zealand in 2008.
Ticket pre-sales start on April 3 with general sales beginning on April 11 from Ticketmaster.

- TimeOut