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In December 1930 New Zealand’s first jazz recording was made: a one minute film of Epi Shalfoon and His Melody Boys performing the popular song He Puru Taitama. Due to a quirk of technological fate many of the early recordings of jazz in New Zealand were on film rather than record. In a preview for New Zealand Music Month we will explore some of the early locally produced film recordings of jazz and look at what these films can tell us about jazz, where it fit into New Zealand society, and how the local film industry got involved.
Dr Aleisha Ward is the 2017 Douglas Lilburn Research Fellow and a recipient of the 2018 Ministry of Culture and Heritage New Zealand History Research Trust award investigating the Jazz Age in New Zealand. She was one of the first graduates of the Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) at the University of Auckland, holds a Masters of Arts degree in Jazz History and Research from Rutgers University (2006) and a PhD in Music from the University of Auckland where her thesis was on jazz in New Zealand 1920-1955. Aleisha is an award-winning writer, and is a freelance editor and lecturer in music history. She writes about jazz in New Zealand for a number of publications including audioculture.co.nz and New Zealand Musician and on her own blog NZ Jazz.