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Jazz Education in New Zealand took a significant leap forward when New Zealand hosted close to two dozen of America’s top jazz musicians for jazz workshops in 1980 and 1981. In the late 1970s, Jamey Aebersold, famous for his jazz “Play-A-Long” records and books, had been running his Summer Jazz Workshops in the United States for around ten years. Aebersold was hosting similar workshops in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) during the southern hemisphere summers, the opposite time of the year from the American workshops. Several New Zealanders travelled to Australia in 1979 to attend these workshops. When they returned, a group of enthusiastic jazz musicians organized an effort to have these same Aebersold Workshops come to New Zealand the following year. The New Zealand Jazz Foundation was established, 17 August, 1980 in order to create an official entity that could raise money and host the workshops.

          "When we got back to New Zealand after that mind-blowing experience,          

            discussions started around getting these same people to do those workshops in

            New Zealand the next year. Through that process we created the New Zealand

            Jazz Foundation. Those events really jump-started so many things for us and

            virtually everything in New Zealand Jazz education today has its roots in those


       – Rodger Fox              

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Colin Hemmingsen, long-time faculty member of every iteration of Wellington's "Jazz School" and one of New Zealand's true pioneers of jazz education, was the first chair of the Jazz Foundation. Within a short period of time, the Foundation secured funding from Yamaha that established the New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestra and High Schools Jazz Orchestra.

In recent years the New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestra has brought many outstanding guest soloist jazz artists to New Zealand to tour and perform with the band, including Dick Oatts, Alex Sipiagin, Luis Bonilla, Clay Jenkins, John Fedchock, Tom Luer, Francisco Torres, and Steve Houghton.

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