Swinging into the weekend

Queenstown Jazz Orchestra’s kicking off te long weekend with a free concert at the Gardens band rotunda tomorrow, from about 12.30pm.

Now in its 12th year, the band’s performed twice before in the Gardens and been “really warmly received”, says band leader/drummer Peter Doyle, who co-founded the orchestra.

Having last performed at a concert in Arrowtown in November, the orchestra will be pared down this time to 10 players – a four-piece rhythm section, three sax players, two trumpeters and a trombonist – along with local singer Melita Langston.

Doyle says they’ll play about 18 to 20 tunes over three sets, including numbers from the ’20s/’30s swing era – “the girls used to wear big skirts and white socks – and the ’30s/’40s big-band era.

New material will include a swing tune, Blues in Hoss’ Flat, made famous by the Count Basie Orchestra.

Though they practise regularly, there’s nothing like live performance, Doyle says – “the adrenalin kicks in and the showmanship takes over”.

He notes people in Christchurch and Auckland are often surprised a small town can produce such a high-quality jazz band.

“We are a small town, but the people that come here, make it.”

He points to the quality, for example, of Brazilian trumpeter Iraja Max and American saxophonist Alex Yevstifeev.

Former band stalwart, Wānaka-based trumpeter Trevor Tattersfield, is also making a comeback.

Queenstown Jazz Orchestra, Queenstown Gardens band rotunda, tomorrow, from 12.30pm. Free

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