And all that jazz

Dunedin Jazz, Cabaret & Performing Arts Trust artistic director Karin Reid.
PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Dunedin Jazz, Cabaret & Performing Arts Trust artistic director Karin Reid. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
If there’s one thing we can all agree on in the music community, it’s that we’d quite like more spaces to perform and experience music in, which is why it pleases me greatly to see a new initiative intent on giving us exactly that.

Dubbed the "Albany Street Jazz Loft", the idea is to use the empty loft of the Playhouse Theatre and fill it with the effervescent burble of "cutting edge, sublime, stimulating and quality contemporary jazz".

The group behind it is the Dunedin Jazz, Cabaret & Performing Arts Trust, which formed in 2014 with the goal of bringing more touring jazz musicians to Dunedin.

"I feel very passionate about presenting live performance, or live music in this regard, in a variety of spaces. And this is not a bar or a cafe, it’s not a commercial space,” trust artistic director Karin Reid explains.

"And also the intimacy of it, it’s not a large auditorium, it’s not a hall, it’s not a small noisy bar either. So there’s that element of a listening audience as well."

But it’s not just about providing a vibey space where the people behind you won’t talk through the whole thing.

They’ll be bringing six different acts to the loft, roughly one a month, for the rest of the year. "It’s almost like a festival, but spread out," Reid says.

The project aims to provide an environment for edgier jazz, the jazz on the fringes, different from what you might typically see.

"[The goal is] to bring a programme of exciting music that falls under the Jazz milieu, I guess. Something that’s not really happening down here.

"I mean there’s a lot of swing, there’s a lot of bebop or jazz orchestra kind of music, but I don’t think there’s enough variety of jazz. Hopefully we will be able to present that variety."

But what exactly is jazz anyway?

Project assistant Alex Wolken: "I guess any music that really draws on the jazz tradition of improvisation I would see as having a place.

"People might describe it with some kind of crossover terminology, but, for me, anything from free improvisation to jazz funk, to you know like, contemporary jazz outfits which crossover with R&B, or even if they crossover with, I don’t know, prog or something.

"That all has its place, drawing on a particular kind of language, a particular kind of improvisational language rhythmically and harmonically.

"But that doesn’t mean that people have had to go to jazz school or learned their chops from jazz musicians necessarily to earn a place within the jazz milieu, in my opinion."

Given that’s the definition they’re working with, I’m excited to see who ends up in the Jazz Loft. And Wolken reckons you might be too, even if you don’t realise it yet.

"People underestimate the plethora of different pathways which people find through music.

"There’s a lot more potential crossover from people who are interested in the more experimental or alternative end of rock and pop or indie music, to jazz.

"So yeah, we want to be reaching out to anybody, from people who are just dabbling their toes in jazz, right through to people who are died in the wool hardcore jazz collectors, and so on."

All of this is, however, contingent on the crowdfunding campaign, which will pay for venue rental.

 - For more from Fraser Thompson go to dunedinsound.com.

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