Got a little rhythm? The Australian influence on swing in New Zealand during the 1930s and 1940s


  • Aleisha Ward Independent scholar, Auckland



Jazz, New Zealand, Australia, Swing, 1930s, 1940s


The performance of swing music in New Zealand was strongly influenced by Australian bands, in particular Theo Walters Personality Band, and Tut Coltman's Swingstars. These bands held residencies at prestigious cabarets, toured around New Zealand and made regular relay and in-studio broadcasts. These activities served to familiarize New Zealanders with their styles of swing, and both bandleaders hired New Zealand musicians and arrangers thereby influencing the style and performance of swing among New Zealand bands. This essay examines the activities of Tut Coltman and Theo Walters in both Australia and New Zealand during the 1930s and 1940s. I investigate the mobility of musicians and musical ideas between the two countries, how these connections were vital to the development of a localized (Australasian) swing style, and how these Australian bands helped to shape the New Zealand swing scene. The mobility of musicians between the two countries was an important factor in the development of the scenes and music industries in both countries. Additionally I examine how the New Zealand tours had a lasting effect on Coltman and Walters’ Australian careers.

Author Biography

  • Aleisha Ward, Independent scholar, Auckland

    Aleisha Ward was one of the first graduates of the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Auckland (2003), New Zealand, and holds a Masters of Arts degree in Jazz History and Research from Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA (2006). She graduated with a PhD in music from the University of Auckland where her thesis was on jazz in New Zealand 1920-1955. She writes about jazz in New Zealand (and occasionally other music related topics) at her blog


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How to Cite

Ward, A. (2015). Got a little rhythm? The Australian influence on swing in New Zealand during the 1930s and 1940s. Jazz Research Journal, 8(1-2), 71-90.