Friday, 26 April 2019

Tauranga Jazz Festival Beginnings

With the 57th Tauranga Jazz Festival coming up this Easter I began to wonder how and when it all started. I contacted an old friend, David Proud, who has been actively involved in all things Jazz since he was a teenager. I asked him how it all came about, and this is the story he told me.

The Jazz Festival wouldn’t have happened without the Bay Big Band and people like Ken Hayman whose family were instrumental in its earliest days. The town needed a rehearsal band which it developed - when Kerridge Odeon put on a film “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” that band played on the stage in front of the screen while the film rolled. The film combined the Newport Yacht Race with jazz music. After the screening, the guys were talking and someone said, “Wouldn’t it be neat to have our own jazz festival?” David Hall, the drummer from the Big band, said he’d organise it. Someone said “You’ll never get it off the ground”. That comment proved to be the catalyst. Hall got an overdraft of 50 pounds from the bank to start it off, and contacted big names in the Auckland music scene to come on board.

Remember the Haymans? Ken Hayman played trumpet in the Tauranga Boy’s College Swing Band and later the Big band. His father built a hall across from the Boy’s college for dances and bands. Hayman’s Hall (now the site of the Tauranga Citizen’s Club) then became the first HQ for the Jazz society and Festival.

The first Jazz Festival was held at the Memorial Park Sound Shell during the Auckland Anniversary Weekend in 1963.

To read more about its history than this space would allow I refer you to Jocelyn Buchanan’s (former Tauranga Jazz Society president) superb overview of the Jazz Society, and The Tauranga Jazz Festival on the Library's Kete website.

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