A line-up of talented young musicians from around New Zealand gave their all in the finals of the AJ Hackett Bungy JumpStart competition, part of the ASB JazzFest Queenstown, at Rydges Queenstown last night (Sunday October 19).
Three bands, four solo vocalists and six solo instrumentalists played to an appreciative audience and three judges for the finals, after being selected from dozens of entries from around the country.
Taking the risk of playing one of his own original piano compositions, Andrew Bruce from Lower Hutt won the solo instrumental section and $1,000 cash, while the Sam Blakelock Band from Christchurch received $2,000 in the band section, beating Queenstown’s own high school band Best Served Chilled and Papanui High School, also from Christchurch.
In the hotly-contested solo vocal section, Wellington’s Wallace Gollan (correct) narrowly beat out Whakatane’s Lili Latham, a recent contestant in TV show ‘Stars in their Eyes’. Wallace also went home with $1,000 for her efforts.
ASB JazzFest Trust member Nicola Lindsay, a long-term Queenstown resident and professional performer, described the night as “invigorating and inspiring”.
“It was amazing to see the dedication to their art shown by such young musicians,” she said. “The future of New Zealand jazz and music generally is looking very healthy.”
The three judges – pianist and cartoonist Garrick Tremain, US musician Lee Roth and singer Tim Beveridge – were delighted with the range of musical talent on show. The standards were so high they told competitors that making a decision as to winners was very difficult.
They told competitors that it was not all about the music, but about being the best they could be.
The finalists were: Solo Vocal Jesse Finn (Queenstown); Wallace Gollan (Wellington); Chloe Hishon (Alexandra); Lili Latham (Whakatane). Solo Instrumental Sam Blakelock on guitar (Christchurch); Andrew Bruce on piano (Lower Hutt); Alex Nixon on guitar (Taupo); George Coole on sax (Christchurch); David Bell on piano (Queenstown); Michael Gordon on sax (Christchurch). Band Section Best Served Chilled (Queenstown); Papanui High School (Christchurch); Sam Blakelock Band (Christchurch).
ASB JazzFest Queenstown is celebrating its milestone 30th anniversary this year. It’s Queenstown’s major springtime event, a 10-day programme of live music from October 18 to 27 showcasing a breadth of jazz styles from around New Zealand and the world.
More than 50 bands and 200 performers inspire and entertain through a programme of 80 free events, in central Queenstown and around the district, and premium ticketed headline concerts. Festival tickets can be purchased online through www.asbjazzfest.co.nz, by calling TicketDirect on 03 450 9110 or 0800 224 224 or at Queenstown i-Site (corner of Shotover and Camp streets).