"Playing with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra is the most exciting experience any young jazz player can have".
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (aka NYJO)
"Forget the word youth, this is one of the best bands you will ever hear" said the late Sir John Dankworth about the 'National Youth Jazz Orchestra'.
Today, NYJO is known throughout the World and recognized as a world class jazz orchestra, regularly topping the bill at festivals. NYJO has played hundreds of concerts in Britain (Festivals, Ronnie Scott's, The Royal Albert Hall etc) as well as Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. NYJO's made numerous TV and radio programmes as well as recording around forty albums and has been voted 'Best Big Band' in the British Jazz Awards (four times) by both the Critics and the general public which must make NYJO's founder, Bill Ashton MBE feel so proud.
NYJO gives young jazz musicians, under the age of twenty five, the opportunity of playing big band jazz to the very highest standard and gives us all the chance of gaining valuable experience by working to a professional standard. During the orchestra's long history (est 1965), most of the rising generation of jazz musicians have passed through NYJO, often becoming established jazz stars whilst still playing with NYJO.
Bill Ashton OBE is NYJO's founding Musical Director and has run the orchestra for over forty years. Bill's a saxophonist and composer and although he's London based, he was born in Blackpool, just down the road from Lancaster where I live. For a young player like me, it's great to be in his presence and to be able to listen to him explain about everything from the stylistic characteristics of the great bands of the past to the areas of playing that affect us all today like phrasing and tone etc. Bill was awarded an OBE in 2010 and an MBE for services to jazz in 1978 and amongst other honours was a recipient of the BBC Radio 2 Jazz Award for his Services to Jazz.
Over the past forty five plus years there's been hundreds of NYJO players including many of the major names in British jazz over the last three decades and I'm sure you'll soon hear of some of the players who are playing with NYJO today. Past NYJO members include ... Vocalists: Amy Winehouse, Carol Kenyon, and Kathleen Willison Trumpet players: Guy Barker, Alex Maynard, Henry Armburg-Jennings, Reuben Fowler, Gerard Presencer, Steve Titchener and Mark Armstrong Drummers: Richard James Burgess, Simon Phillips, Chris Dagley as well as vibraphonist Frank Ricotti Sax players: Nigel Hitchcock, Dave O'Higgins, Julian Argüelles, Mike Hall, Pete Long, Chris Biscoe and Chris White Trombonists: Mark Nightingale, Dennis Rollins and yes, my dad David Wood.
NYJO plays a wide range of music and there's no doubt that NYJO raises the profile of jazz amongst the general public and gives young people the chance to hear and love the jazz genre. Bill also commissions new works from British composers, arrangers and song-writers many of whom have played with NYJO in the past.
Here are a few little clips of me playing with NYJO
- He's Just My Bill (Grimsby, November 2009)
- How About You (Grimbsby, November 2009)
- Jon Russell Improv Guitar Solo (Ruislip, October 2009)
- Jazz Flute Solo (Ruislip, October 2009)
- A Foggy Day (Chester, March 2010)
- Much Too Much (Chester, March 2010) -
For more information, please visit www.nyjo.org.uk