Around 300 artists will perform across 35 venues in the capital this week, as the five-day Wellington Jazz Festival kicks off today.
Wellington-based performer Ruby Solly (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe) has been coming to the festival since she was a teenager, and said it had the power to transport you anywhere in the world.
"It really feels like you could be anywhere, you could be somewhere in Europe or somewhere in America during those five days," she said.
"It's amazing to just be able to walk into any venue during the Jazz festival and see someone you know and hear them play."
Composer, poet, cellist and taonga pūoro practitioner Ruby Solly is performing with her band Tararua at one of Saturday's headline shows, with a work commissioned by the festival.
"I've composed a suite of pieces called Te Karanga o ngā Whetū, which is about different stars in Te Reo Māori," she said.
"Using science we send pictures up into the sky and look at the pictures we get back once they hit the stars to see how far away they are."
"So using that information as well as our own science in Te Reo Māori and our own pūrākau around the stories of different stars, and how they relate to the elements and us as people in our life journey."
The rest of Tararua included taonga pūoro practitioners Alistair Fraser and Ariana Tikao, double bassist Phil Boniface, with guests Rosie Langabeer on piano, Riki Gooch on drums and Gerard Crewdson on trombone and euphonium.
Solly said writing for taonga pūoro – traditional Māori instruments – and for people she was close to had been a "beautiful" experience.
"It's a real privilege to write, not just for an instrument but for specific people, and that's something that often comes in with taonga puoro," she said.
"Every instrument is different, everyone brings a different sort of range, and ability and character to it.
"It's been really great to write for people that I really love and respect and who are really close friends."
As well as composing and performing music, Solly also worked as a music therapist with high school students with special needs.
"There's so many overlaps between music and Te Ao Māori, a lot of our music is used in ritual, and not just performance but ritual community and family contexts," she said.
"Music therapy has a lot of that language and a lot of those ideas as well ... it's really great to be able to practice my culture as well as my craft in that respect."
"It's almost providing people with another language to express what can't always be expressed easily with words."
Solly was also looking forward to performing in the 8am session of Sun Song suites with Umar Zakaria on Friday.
"Umar is just an incredible musician and thinker, and he's composed music for four concerts that are around an hour long to go throughout the day."
She said her 8am performance would probably be the earliest gig she ever played, but she was excited to start her day with music.
"If you're hesitant to go to any shows that are kind of late night or rowdy atmosphere that festivals can bring, I think that's a really beautiful alternative for a lot of people."
"To be able to get up early before work and go and see some beautiful music played at St Peters and then go about your day."
Jazz Festival Director Ngā Toi Mere Boynton, herself a lover of jazz, said the festival was a great opportunity to focus on local artists.
"All the jazz musicians in New Zealand look forward to this festival because it focuses on them," she said.
"And a lot of them really don't get the opportunity to earn a good amount of money, so this is one way we can support our artists and get them in front of an international audience."
As well as Ruby Solly, Boynton was also looking forward to the performance of festival favourite and longtime friend Whirimako Black who is performing on Friday.
"What I love about Whirimako is the velvety-ness of her voice and the fact that she sings in te reo Māori and she's kind of taken te reo Māori into different spaces, into jazz and funk and soul."
Like other headline artists Whirimako Black's was expected to be a sell-out show, but Boynton encouraged people to also go see an artist they may not have heard of.
"What we'd love people to do is support other musicians that we've got on our programme," she said.
"We really encourage people to go and support these artists, they're really amazing creatives and amazing composers."
"Go out and support these artists, it's not expensive … there's stuff happening everywhere, just get amongst it and enjoy it."
Featuring more than 100 shows in venues all over the city, the festival runs from Wednesday June 9 to Sunday June 13.
Ruby Solly will be performing with Tararua at St Peter's on Willis at 6pm on Saturday. Tickets and a full festival programme are available online.