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Stars come out for Wellington Jazz Festival

Published: Wed 6 Jun 2018 10:24 AM
The Wellington Jazz Festival kicks off today, with an impressive array of international stars and home-grown jazz talent bringing their smooth grooves and cool beats to the city’s streets, bars and venues.
John Beasley’s MONK’estra, a 15-piece big band inspired by the musical spirit of jazz giant, Thelonious Monk
Shelagh Magadza, Artistic Director of Wellington Jazz Festival, says that with around 150 gigs packed into the next five days, music lovers will be spoilt for choice - with many gigs that are either free or under $20 in the mix.
“Whether you’re seeing international stars Christian McBride, Chris Dave or Gretchen Parlato at the Opera House or enjoying some of the free gigs at Rogue & Vagabond, Te Papa or St Peter’s on Willis, the Jazz Festival is a mid-winter treat. Book tickets now to ensure you get to see some of the best acts on offer - but also make time for spontaneous late-night fun over the next week.” Shelagh said.
Performing with his ensemble New Jawn, Newport Jazz Festival director and renowned bassist Christian McBride will open the Jazz Festival with his anticipated one-off show at the Opera House tonight. Also on opening night, Ed Zuccollo will perform his magical soundscapes at Meow, while saxophonist Oscar Lavën takes to the stage at Moon in Newtown with his trio. Night owls in need of a post-show jazz fix should head to Meow to enjoy Jake Baxendale and the Jam for their late-night session.
Thursday brings five-time Grammy Award nominee, guitarist Robben Ford to the Opera House stage, where he’ll be joined by American rock-soul singer Lydia Pense. Over at Civic Square, City Gallery will hold a special jazz-flavored edition of their Tuatara Open Late series, where Nigel Patterson (Black Seeds, Fly My Pretties) will play artist Michael Parekowhai’s stunning piano sculpture He Kōrero Pūrākau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: Story of a New Zealand River before Bella Kalolo takes to the gallery stage performing with a full band. Local drummer Myele Manzanza has brought pianist Mathew Sheens all the way from New York for their two shows at Meow on Thursday and Friday evenings.
Sultry songstress Gretchen Parlato presents her superb vocal range to the Opera House on Friday night, while Caroline bar hosts award-winning composer Callum Allardice with his Quintet. Saturday features one of biggest highlights of the Festival, John Beasley’s MONK’estra, a 15-piece big band inspired by the musical spirit of jazz giant, Thelonious Monk. A handful of New Zealand musicians will join MONK’estra for the concert.
Free events include the family-friendly Royal New Zealand Air Force Jazz Orchestra performing takes on the Great American Songbook at Te Papa at 12pm Saturday, the Wellington Mingus Ensemble at the Southern Cross on Saturday evening, a round table discussion about gender and jazz in Aotearoa at The Third Eye on Friday, a pop-up jazz band at Wellington Airport, and a late-night DJ session with Martyn Pepperell at Meow on Saturday.
A collaborator with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, D’Angelo and Adele to name a few, Chris “Daddy” Dave has been called the “most dangerous drummer alive”, and audiences will find out why when Chris and The Drumhedz take over the Opera House on Sunday night to conclude the Wellington Jazz Festival in style.
Visit jazzfestival.co.nz for the full line up.
About the 2018 Wellington Jazz Festival
• The Wellington Jazz Festival runs 6–10 June 2018
• Around 150 gigs take place over five days at 45 venues
• The Jazz Festival draws a national audience of around 30,000 music fans
• The Jazz Festival is home to the New Zealand Jazz Awards, with the winners announced tonight, Wednesday 6 June
Visit www.jazzfestival.co.nz or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @welljazzfest.

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