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Apr 032019

Seven students from Kuranui College will be attending the annual National Youth Jazz Competition held in Tauranga in April.

The competition will feature bands from across the country and Kuranui music teacher Saali Marks believes it will be a wonderful opportunity for the young musicians. “As a fairly new band, I thought it would be a fantastic chance for our band members to see what other schools from outside of the Wairarapa are up to, and hopefully give them something to aspire to. They’ll meet some other young jazz musos and get a chance to strut their stuff!”

“The Kuranui jazz combo is called Kikorangi, meaning ‘Blue’ – in a reference to the roots of jazz music, the blues,” explained Marks.

Jazz Band 1

Kikorangi rehearse in the lead up to the National Youth Jazz competition

The band have quickly reached their fundraising goal of $2,000. “We owe a special thanks to the Acorn Trust, who have contributed to our travel costs to help us get to the competition.”

“We have also been doing some furious fundraising, and the band has already performed at Featherston’s First Friday at the start of the month, and busked at the Martinborough Fair,” said Marks.

Jazz Band 2

Rowan Higgins (Alto Sax), Alex Hartley (Alto Sax), Adam Butler (Alto Sax), Ririn Takana (Flute) Amethyst Sutherland (Bass)

Kuranui College’s Alex Hartley will be performing as one of the three saxophonists in Kikorangi and is looking forward to showing off the band’s talent. “I think it will be good for me as an individual, and the band as well. Good exposure, and a lot of fun!”

Hartley has been interested in music since a young age, but wasn’t interested in lessons until starting Kuranui College’s IGNITE program. “I guess I just started listening to music a lot more, and wondered how to make it. I was really little at the time, and I bought myself one of those tiny little guitars and I’ve just played ever since. I’ve never taken lessons, I’ve just taught myself.

“Guitar was my first instrument, and probably my best one, considering I’m still quite new to saxophone, but I’m really learning to love it.”

Jazz Band 3

Ririn Takana on flute

Hartley believes the passion and skill of the teachers at the college, and in particular Marks, has helped the band come this far. “The one musician we look upon like our idol is Mr Marks. He’s pushed us and we’ve done really well I reckon, everyone is getting along and it’s sounding really good.”

Hartley’s confidence embodies a keen Kuranui spirit, thinking of the festival as an opportunity to perform to the best of his ability, and learn everything he can. “We sound really good, and I’m pretty sure we’ll ace it. I think it will be great to see other people and how they perform, their style and skill, and just to learn off that,” he added.

Kikorangi are: Sasha Francis-Murray (Drums), Amethyst Sutherland (Bass), Ilias Hopkins (Guitar), Adam Butler (Alto Sax), Rowan Higgins (Alto Sax), Alex Hartley (Alto Sax) and Ririn Takana (Flute).

The 42nd National Youth Jazz Competition runs Friday 5 April to Saturday 6 April 2019, at Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, Tauranga.