Meet David Paquette, the New Orleans-schooled pianist who has taken ragtime and New Orleans piano to Europe and the States, and now lives on Waiheke. He takes time out from organising the Easter weekend Montana Waiheke Island of Jazz Festival to play a concert with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra on Sunday.

You've done this jazz and orchestra thing before, is this a new programme?

Most of it, yes. There are new charts by Bernie Allen and Paul Harrop, and Bernie will be playing on a few tunes.

Playing with an orchestra would seem to place constraints on an improvising jazz musician.

The way these guys write gives me a lot of freedom. The charts are not written for piano and strings, it's a bed of strings written for improvisation. At rehearsal I was stomping my foot to get them to swing but in some ways that contrast is good - the straightness of the chord pattern and the strings underneath, with my improvisation on top.


Anything in the programme have special meaning for you?

We're doing Lahaina Cake Glide, a ragtime piece of mine written in the vein of Scott Joplin. I've never played it with any other instruments except bass and drums. I opened the show with it when I toured with Spike Milligan so it's a got some history for me. The other is Martinique Doux Suite, an old Creole beguine from the 30s. I learned it from the French band Les Haricots Rouge who are coming back for the Waiheke Festival.

Mention of Les Haricots Rouge brings us rather neatly to the festival. What's special for you this time?

I'm excited about getting Charmaine Neville because she's New Orleans royalty and she's bringing us mainstream attention. Fortunately this time we have a 1000-seat marquee instead of 500. Also Ingrid Lucia. She has the most fascinating band. They are like circus performers playing jazz. Their Hotel Child album is number

13 on the Billboard jazz charts. She sounds like Billie Holiday, and Todd Londagin tap-dances and plays wonderful trombone. Retro-chic is what they call it. Just wonderful.