The Blog

2012 Youth Jazz Competition Report

The following report on the 2012 Youth Jazz Competition was submitted by Andrew Leachman, one of the organizers and also one of the three judges.  We also intend on posting some photos in the near future.


The 2012 Youth Jazz Competition was held in the reception room of the Honest Lawyer on Sunday 24th June. The Big Band competition was won by the Nelson College for Girls, the Jazz Combo competition was won by Waimea College, closely followed by the Nayland College (Chevy Shack) and the Motueka High School combo. The standard of the music was at times exceptional.

The Nelson Jazz Club Inc., thanks the sponsors, Nelson Art Council (Lloyd Harwood) Collingwood Fresh Choice (Mark A?Court), Beggs Music Works owner Tim Babbage, and Stuart Hebberd of Prices Pharmacy for their financial support. I would like to thank David North for his tireless work communicating with Heads of Music at the various colleges and for his Master of Ceremonies role during the competition.

The Youth Jazz competition could not happen without support, I thank judges George Jury and Iain Clark. Event Audio?s Andrew Shellock assisted by David Bowater for kindly taking care of the sound system. Michael Rhodes did sterling work getting bands and combos on and off the performance area. The NJC thanks Chris Baillie for the use of the Honest Lawyer facilities and Tim Parker for his tireless support along with providing drum kit, bass and guitar amps and additional music stands.

The final results had Nelson College for Girls narrowly beating Waimea College Little Big Band, with the Motueka High School Big Band (the 2011 competition winners) coming a credible third. The Girls plus one lucky young man, gave a very accurate rendition of the Andrews Sisters “Bugle Boy Rag” with their lead singer Maisie Blackwood displaying passion and extraordinary talent with her renditions of “It?s a New Life” and “Perhaps”. Jarra Dowrick stood out, not only because he was the only male member of the band, he displayed musical strength leading the trombone section plus he displayed a warm tone.

Martin Emo has a ?ne group of talented music students at his Waimea College. Brubeck’s “Unsquare Dance” was a challenging surprise. The Cuban piece “Afrodesia” was a stand out piece, the interplay between soprano, alto and trombone had interesting harmony lines and reminded this judge of Roland Kirk. The Louis Bonfur piece “Black Orpheus” was beautifully played. Having such a rhythmically strong bass and drummer obviously helped drive this groups music.

The Motueka High School big band really enjoy playing music. Their enthusiasm is infectious. The sax section displayed good intonation, and their lead trumpet was very strong with good “chops”. Bass and drums worked well together to provide a sound foundation for the band. The International student (whose name I did not catch) sang “Minnie the Moocher” a la Cab Calloway, as soon as he started singing he raised the energy level of the whole band. All the students in ALL the big bands are to be congratulated, their music was really enjoyable.

The Jazz Combo competition also proved to be a close run event. Motueka High School jazz combo came third. They kicked off their set with “Blue Monk”, followed by a Freddy Hubbard like blues. The bass player was very solid and the young man on trumpet displayed a nice rich tone with quite a few interesting licks. I would have liked him to play a few more choruses, for he certainly had the creativity to do so. It was interesting to hear a restrained guitar. Well done that man!

Nayland College combo called themselves “Chevy Shack”. They had the distinction of playing the only original piece of the afternoon. I am guessing the young man on piano wrote this interesting tune. A really talented piano player. Interestingly the young woman who played trumpet doubled on trombone, she played both instruments with alacrity. There was lovely interplay between the horns, and Elliot, the sensitive drummer, he sang a duet with vocalist Katlyn on “Fly me to the Moon”. The combo played an interesting version of Ellington/Juan Tizols “Caravan” followed by the Lee Morgan hard bopping “Sidewinder”. I thought the piano player was exceptional and the vocalist confident.

The Jazz Trio from Waimea College were worthy winners. All three young men displayed musical talent and sophistication. “Sister Sadie” by Horace Silver was well played. Obviously alto saxophonist Patrick West knows his way round his horn. The drummer and bass player were supremely empathetic. The tune by semi blind drummer Mark Lockett was a surprise. How on earth did three young Waimea College students pick up on this guys compositions? The Lockett tune was beautifully played. Chick Corea?s “Spain” with the changes in temp and accents was played with precision. The bass and saxophone playing the “head” in unison. The solo sections were handled with impressive facility by alto saxophone, bass and drums. Wonderful to listen to such creativity by these three young talented musicians.

All in all it was a great event. The future of jazz in Nelson is in good hands. So much musical talent exists within the colleges of our region. The gold coin collection raised $162.20 plus a 1 Euro coin. I counted seventeen club members in attendance. I will inscribe the certificates and deliver them in due course, I shall do a final budget statement for the Club Treasurer, when all bills come to hand. All we need to achieve now, is to encourage these wonderfully talented young people to become involved with the Nelson Jazz Club.

Andrew Leachman