For five days over Easter weekend, Tauranga and Mount Maunganui will be filled with the vibrant sounds of jazz music, fine wine and great food with the 2006 Montana National Jazz Festival.

One of the Bay of Plenty’s flagship events, the festival attracts visitors from all over the country. This year’s event will be headlined by internationally-acclaimed jazz musician Nathan Haines

The festival includes 11 specially-themed concerts with music that ranges from big bands to blues, from the best modern jazz to the vibrant sounds of New Orleans.

From Thursday 13 April to Monday 17 April, the concert series includes seven evening concerts at Baycourt, with two more special concerts in the Holy Trinity Church. The weekend concludes with two more afternoon concerts on Monday 17 April.

In addition to the concerts, jazz bands will be playing at various venues along the main streets of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. Cafes and restaurants along The Strand in Tauranga and downtown Mount Maunganui all get in the jazz spirit with outdoor concerts.

There will be six venues with bands playing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons along Maunganui Road plus nearly 30 bands on tap in the Tauranga CBD.

“We are really excited abut the diversity of music planned,” said Colin Lunt, festival director.

The Opening Gala will kick the weekend off with Wellington Band Shaken Not Stirred presenting “A Night of Swingers” – including songs made popular by Bobby Darren, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and of course, Frank Sinatra.

The LA-NZ Jazz Connection hits town again with a new touring show put together by Rodger Fox, bringing US musicians Bruce Forman (guitar), Bob Sheppard (saxophone) and Clay Jenkins (trumpet), and Rodger also teams up with Kiwi icon singer Ray Woolf for a Big Band Swing concert with the Tauranga Big Band on the same bill.

A commemoration of the 60th anniversary of legendary jazzman Miles Davis’ birth will feature a host of top New Zealand musicians, including Kim Paterson and Phil Broadhurst.

Tickets are on sale from Baycourt TicketDirect (07) 577 7188 or www.ticketdirect.co.nz. Full details are available on the festival website, www.jazz.org.nz.

For more on New Zealand at ITKT