Female big band musicians take the stage

All Girl Big Band members rock out on stage.
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All Girl Big Band members rock out on stage.

In a largely male-dominated musical genre, the All Girl Big Band is bringing girl power to the stage.

As the name suggests, the All Girl Big Band is an all-female full jazz band which is taking Christchurch by storm with gigs queued up for the next few months.

The only one of its kind in New Zealand, the 18-piece band has full sections of trombone, trumpet, saxophone and rhythm and vocals.

All Girl Big Band taking charge of the genre.
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All Girl Big Band taking charge of the genre.

Band founder and lead vocalist, Ara Institute of Canterbury vocal tutor Kate Taylor, started the band with Anna Whitaker and musical director Lana Law in January 2016.

"[Lana and I] did a gig a year ago with the Garden City Big Band... and we were the only females in the group," Taylor said.

"We played big band all the time and it's no skin off our nose, but there are a lot of female musicians in Christchurch playing away and they're awesome.

"It's a bit of a celebration of the fact that we have 16-plus amazing female players in Christchurch."

The pair reached out to female musicians around the city to see if they wanted to get involved with the project.

Taylor said they felt lucky to pull together the group of musicians who range from high school students to a trombone player in her 70s.

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"It's all walks of life from young to old and different backgrounds. It's wonderful."

Last year was the band's first year up and running. "It was kind of as a social thing," Taylor said.

"It's just exploded since then."

The band played a Natalie Cole tribute concert at last year's Christchurch Big Band Festival, and gigs at the Court Theatre, Jazz After Work and the Swingtown Rebels.

The All Girl Big Band will be performing at the Woolston Club next weekend to raise money and awareness of the Charge Syndrome Association of Australasia.

Charge syndrome is a recognisable genetic pattern of birth defects which occurs in about one in every 9000 to 10,000 births worldwide.

The money raised from the event will go towards a bi-annual conference held by the Association in Melbourne next year.

It's a medical condition close to home for Taylor, whose cousin Sophie suffers from the rare syndrome.

Taylor and the band will open with a special performance of a song written and arranged by Sophie's 94 year-old great-grandfather – and Taylor's granddad – jazz musician Doug Kelly. 

 - Stuff

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