Dr Jazz has seen it all

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Saxophonist Dr Jason Thornton has a history of collaborating with the best in the business. 

And his gig at the Queenstown JazzFest will be no different. 

The virtuoso musician has toured with the greats – from Shirley Bassey to Frank Sinatra. 

The JazzFest trustee has put together a talented quintet for the ticketed dinner gig at threesixty bar and restaurant on Saturday. 

Thornton says: “Basically I’ve been a bit cheeky and pinched some of the best international players that are coming to town. 

“I’ve made up my band from them. 

“I won’t name them but it should be a lot of fun.” 

Originally from Sydney, Thornton was approached by Shirley Bassey’s management when he finished university in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

He then spent years touring Europe with what reads like a Who’s Who of 20th century entertainment. 

James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Cher, Lenny Pickett, Bassey and the legendary Sinatra have all swung to his rhythm. 

“Frank was a lovely guy, always surrounded by an entourage. 

“He just got on with business. He was very much about getting the necessary done, the show or rehearsal, and getting out of there to be honest – probably to play with his showgirls,” Thornton jokes. 

“Touring was a mind-blowing experience. 

“The bands were full of incredible musicians and I was playing alongside people I had idolised my entire career.
“It was very humbling.” 

Thornton moved to Queenstown in July. He has taken on the challenging task of helping to organise this year’s JazzFest. 

“It has been a bit of a process, let’s put it that way. 

“It’s a strong line-up and hopefully there will be something for everyone. 

“Fingers crossed whoever is in charge plays nice and we get the weather.
“I’m looking forward to getting around the festival and seeing as much as I can, especially what drummer Craig Naughton has organised.”