Wellington Jazz Festival 2022 Unveils Unique Sunday Mixtape Showcase

by Madonna

The 2022 Wellington Jazz Festival brought a distinctive twist to the stage with its “Sunday Mixtape,” which showcased three separate mini-concerts, each featuring the exceptional jazz creations of three of Aotearoa’s (New Zealand’s) most promising musicians and composers. This exciting new music was specially commissioned for the Wellington Jazz Festival audience.

Seth Boy: ‘Farewell, Sweet Stranger’

The spotlight shone on Seth Boy, a Filipino-New Zealander renowned for his prowess as a bass player and composer. His commissioned work, ‘Farewell, Sweet Stranger,’ was a captivating blend of his Tagalog heritage, echoes of Spanish colonization, and the deep-rooted influences of African American jazz.

This musical masterpiece paid a poignant tribute to José Rizal, a multifaceted figure in Filipino history, revered as a doctor, writer, and national hero who met his tragic end at the hands of the Spanish regime. The title, ‘Farewell, Sweet Stranger,’ is drawn from the final verse of Rizal’s poignant farewell poem, ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’ (‘My Last Farewell’), penned while he awaited his impending execution.

Joining Seth Boy on the bandstand were a talented ensemble of musicians, including Rachelle Eastwood (flute), Leah Thomas (clarinet), Bryn van Vliet (alto saxophone), Louisa Williamson (tenor saxophone), James Guilford (trumpet), Kaito Walley (trombone), Ayrton Foote (piano), and Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa (drums).

Olivier Holland: A Global Journey through Music

Olivier Holland, hailing from Germany and currently serving as a bassist and educator at the University of Auckland, took the audience on a transcultural musical journey. His compositions for this showcase drew inspiration from musical traditions spanning Algeria, Zimbabwe, and Europe.

In the mesmerizing composition ‘For Thabani (FT),’ the first of three original works crafted by Holland for this prestigious commission, listeners experienced the musicians of his ensemble, G-Jazz-5, engaging in a musical dialogue that was at times harmonious and, at others, spiritedly discordant. The piece ingeniously intertwined the musical fabric of various traditions and paid homage to Thabani Gapara, the work’s dedicatee, by referencing a Zimbabwean dance used in harvest celebrations in his homeland.

The Sunday Mixtape at the 2022 Wellington Jazz Festival showcased not only the richness of New Zealand’s jazz landscape but also the deep connections it fosters with global musical influences. It was an event that truly celebrated the spirit of innovation and diversity in contemporary jazz.

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