Hero photograph
Jazz Band
Photo by Otago Daily Times

Jazz Band

Lealia Devereux —

2019 has proved to be yet another exceptional year for the Jazz Band.

The ‘The Big Bad Big Band’ have made leaps and bounds in sound and performance skills. Our improvements this year was largely thanks to the Australian Tour we took as a band in April/ May to compete in the ‘Generations in Jazz’ festival. We were able to attend workshops at Melbourne schools and Monash University along with experiencing the local jazz culture. We then took a long bus ride inland to Mt Gambier where the festival was held. Generations in Jazz attracts 6000 jazz students from all over Australia, and a few from New Zealand, to come together and play music. We were also able to listen to professional jazz performers such as American singer Lizz Wright and American organist Joey DeFrancesco. A special thanks to Hana Fahy and John Dodd for facilitating this trip!

We also competed at the Dunedin Youth Jazz festival. The Big Bad Big Band won best overall big band, and the Itty Bitty Small Band won best combo. Fantastic results! Abe Baillie won best drummer, Alice Houston-Page won best bassist and Jayden Jesudhass won best baritone player. On the next evening, both bands played in a celebratory concert in the Otago Boys High School auditorium. In August, we were invited to play at the Dunedin Town Hall as part of the Secondary Schools Music Festival. We also performed at the Port Chalmers Seafood Festival for the second year in a row. It was great being able to highlight a few of our favourite songs to a wide Dunedin audience.

Unfortunately this year the Big Bad Big Band will lose 11 members, many of whom have been playing in the band for three years or longer! Over those three years we have developed a large repertoire (26 tunes that we can perform live), and most band members are up for performing improvised solos as part of our set. In fact this has become one of the exciting features of our gigs. We have all really appreciated the opportunities that playing in a jazz band has given us and hopefully many of us will continue with music over the years.

I want to say a huge thank you to our band director John Dodd who manages to dedicate lots of time to the Jazz band despite being the Head of Music and in charge of Orchestra and Chamber music at LPHS. Under his guidance, we have improved immensely as players so it is extremely sad to leave this year. John Dodd will be taking the band again next year, so I wish them the best of luck!