Jazz jubilee to jam and jive
Fifty years of the Manawatu Jazz Club is being celebrated over Labour Weekend with get-togethers, jam sessions and a free concert.
Club president David Edge said the 50th was a big event for the club, with many players there at the beginning still active members.
‘‘This is a free event and we hope that people who have been associated with the club over the past half century in bands or the audience... or anyone with a jazz interest, will come along.’’
The club began at the Newbury Hall on April 28, 1966, as the the Manawatu Musicians and Entertainers Club.
Forty people turned up to the first club day in June to be entertained by the Peter Wood Quintet, several other musicians, and a conjuring act.
The club operated out of a scheduledfor-demolition building in Taonui St, and formed a 15-piece swing band.
Inspired by the acclaim accorded the Peter Wood Quintet at the 1967 Tauranga Jazz Festival, a Manawatu festival was organised for Labour Weekend 1968.
The club’s big band, was joined by two others, and 11 jazz combos.
‘‘Eight of the original musicians in that festival are still actively playing in Palmerston North, and at least five others are at other clubs around the country.’’
The club changed its name to the Manawatu Jazz Club in 1976, and New Zealand’s second oldest jazz festival moved to Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
‘‘In 2000, with the inspiration of Rodger Fox, the format was changed to incorporate international jazz and blues artists, a high school jazz competition, and a free cafe´ scene around Palmerston North and Feilding in a nine-day celebration of jazz. The 2017 festival will be the 50th.’’
The Labour Weekend reunion starts with a casual gathering and jam session at 12pm on Saturday at The Savage Club Hall in Campbell St – drums, piano and amps will be provided.
The concert is on Sunday at 2pm in the Cloverlea Tavern with the MJC Big Swing Band, James Tait Jamieson & friends, BopCats, Mac Attack, Rose City Seven and others.
There’ll also be 400 photographs on display from City Library’s Heritage Project.
‘‘It’s free, and all are welcome,’’ Edge said.
Manawatu Musicians and Entertainers Club Big Band in the club’s first jazz festival in the Opera House on Labour Weekend 1968.