At least one aspect of Christchurch’s cultural history is safe: pictorial evidence of its thriving jazz scene from the 1920s to the present day. About 18 months ago I was in the central city on photo research and wandered into the great Scorpio bookshop on Hereford St (soon to re-open in Riccarton) and there was a gem of book, just published. A Passion for Jazz is a visual history of “the Christchurch scene then and now”. That means the jazz scene, and it’s the kind of book I hope that some Cantabrian will produce about the city’s rock’n’roll scene, from Max Merritt to, ah, Zed.
The wonderful photos show big bands led by the likes of Brian Marston and Martin Winiata, small combos, glamorous chanteuse, goateed 1950s hipsters, guitar heroes such as the Kahi brothers, stars such as Doug Caldwell, Harry Voice, and Stu Buchanan, satirist Rod Derrett when he was still a jazz guitarist, and more recent stalwarts such as Paul Dyne, Neill Pickard and Malcolm McNeill. They are accompanied by short biographical pieces, and photos that also show the musicians who are still living in their current environs. Many of them still playing.
A Passion for Jazz was put together by Jo Jules, under the auspices of Christchurch Polytechnic’s School of Performing Arts, which Pickard was instrumental in founding in 1991. (There’s a great shot of him playing guitar in 1963 – wearing fetching swimming trunks – with the Undergrads at Caroline Bay, Timaru.) The School’s address is PO Box 540, Christchurch.
There are many photos that I would love to have featured in Blue Smoke, but I wanted to avoid double-ups. Among them is this charming cover portrait of, from left, Nick Nicolson, Doug Caldwell, Harry Voice and George Campbell (the classy tuxes are for their role as Gale Garnett’s backing band, 1961). One we both feature is the shot of Martin Winiata’s 3YA big band in the late 1940s (p168 in Blue Smoke). A Passion for Jazz got every name, no easy task. They are, from left: Wally Ransom, Bill Bailey, Lloyd Hunter, Ron McKay, Lou Warren, Bernard Winfield, Barry Warren, Cliff Inns, Bob Bradford, Ross Floyd, Brian Marston, Martin Winiata, vocalist Coral Cummins and a 3YA announcer.