Wellington Jazz Festival announces first acts

Thursday 4 December 2008, 5:02PM
By Wellington City Council


The Wellington Jazz Festival has announced the first of its major international acts to perform at the inaugural festival, from 5 – 8 March 2009.

Speaking ahead of a full programme announcement on 21 January 2009, Wellington Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Lissa Twomey, said “our inaugural Jazz Festival is for everyone, from the passers-by to the dedicated hard-core jazz enthusiasts.”

“Over four days, we’re offering a wide musical palette of traditional and contemporary jazz, Latin, rhythm ’n’ blues, gospel, soul and more. The programme is designed so that audiences can discover how far the roots of jazz stretch into so many of the musical styles and genres we enjoy.”

The first confirmed Festival headliner is the Mingus Big Band, direct from New York to perform at the Michael Fowler Headliner Series. The knockout 14-piece band is devoted to continuing the legacy of Charlie Mingus, the late great jazz composer and virtuoso bass player

Setting the stage for other world class acts, the Jazz Festival is creating a purpose built jazz club in the Wellington Town Hall, the Pacific Blue Note. The intimate and atmospheric club will be the hub of the festival with up to five sessions daily of jazz, blues, gospel, and family shows to improvised jams, from dawn to past the midnight hour.

Among the artists confirmed to play at the Pacific Blue Note are thought-provoking bluesman Otis Taylor; vibraphonist/vocalist and pioneer of jazz/funk Roy Ayers; the adventurous jazz, classical and rock pianist Brad Mehldau; blues troubadour Eric Bibb; and the ‘Polish Miles Davis’ – classic and cool trumpeter Tomasz Stanko.
Along with an extensive line-up in the Michael Fowler Center, Pacific Blue Note and Ilott theatres, the Wellington Jazz Festival will also present a free programme of jazz in Civic Square, ranging from vintage jazz to roots, rhythm and reggae.

Supported by Wellington City Council and managed by the New Zealand International Arts Festival, the 2009 Wellington Jazz Festival promises to be the highlight of the New Zealand music calendar next year. The full line-up will be announced on January 21, 2009.


For more information and updates, visit www.jazzfestival.co.nz



Mingus Big Band

Continuing the legacy of one of the most important figures in 20th century American music, the Mingus Big Band is a New York institution, playing to packed crowds in a weekly spot and touring internationally. Six recordings have been nominated for Grammy Awards and the Mingus Big Band won the JazzTimes and Down Beat critics and readers awards for ‘Best Big Band’ several years running.

“...The Mingus Band has taken a musical legacy and transformed it into a creative force that generates a contemporary originality and vitality all its own.” All About Jazz



Otis Taylor

Chicago born Otis Taylor is considered an innovative and thought-provoking blues artist, performing what he calls “trance blues” – a blues sound drenched in Appalachian country music and moody psychedelic rock. Taylor plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica and Downbeat magazine picked his latest album “Recapturing the Banjo” as Critics Choice, Best Blues Album of the Year 2008.

“Otis Taylor is arguably the most relevant blues artist of our time.” Guitar Player


Roy Ayers

Vibraphonist/vocalist Roy Ayers is a seminal figure of jazz and R&B, the Godfather of Neo-soul and prophet of acid jazz. Since founding the group ‘Ubiquity’ with Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter in the 1960s and creating tracks such as ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’, Ayres has remained the man with the vibe. His prolific four decades in music reaches across jazz, funk, soul and disco to fusion, afro-funk and acid jazz. Today, the dynamic music man is an iconic figure still in great demand and whose music has been sampled by music industry heavyweights, including Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac and Ice Cube.

‘Roy Ayers delivered an evening of kick-ass musicianship, optimism and great, umm, vibes…’ Matt Bauer, Exclaim, 2008


Brad Mehldau Trio

The music of pianist Brad Mehldau seamlessly melds jazz, classical and rock influences. Brad Mehldau has recorded and performed extensively since the early 1990s with his most consistent output has taken place in the trio format launched in 1996 with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy.

Mehldau’s equal devotion to standards, original compositions and rock and pop covers has completely refreshed the piano repertoire.

“Universally admired as one of the most adventurous pianists to arrive on the jazz scene in years.” The Los Angeles Times


Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb is a blues storyteller and troubadour who was named "Best Newcomer" by the British Blues Awards in 2006 and nominated for Acoustic Artist of the Year in the 2008 Blues Music Awards. Bibb’s most recent album ‘Get Onboard’ is an exploration into the place where blues meets gospel and soul.

"Eric is one of the new, young singers that has appeared on the scene that, much to my delight, has a great voice, is an excellent performer and has a great knowledge about the roots of this music" Taj Mahal


Tomasz Stanko

Polish jazz trumpeter, Tomasz Stanko’s music has its roots in the classic cool jazz from the 1950s and 1960s. Described as ‘the Polish Miles Davis’, the jazz trumpeter, composer and bandleader trained in the Communist era but was attracted to free jazz and Miles Davis bootlegs and is now respected as one Europe’s most original jazz artists.

“The tone of the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko catapults you into reflection. Rarely louder than mezzo-forte and stippled with a slight fuzz, it sounds like an old record played with a dusty needle.” The New York Times