Nigel Tully, (NYJO Tully?) Chairman of the board of trustees of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, rang me this morning and talked me through the plans for a NYJO/ Jazz Services event this Friday 11th September in the Cockpit Theatre, which will bring together a very wide range of people with an active involvement in jazz education.
Attendance is by invitation, so anyone who should be in this loop but isn't.... should email or phone Chris Hodgkins :
020 7928 9089
The event is called "Jazz Education in England and The Future of NYJO." The discussion will be well attended, eg by several representatives of a number of relevant funding bodies.
Nigel tells me that Arts Council England, in its role as an arts development body, has- and rightly- given NYJO a wake-up call. The message, which is a welcome one, is that NYJO now needs to change and adapt, and in a number of ways.
So plans are being developed to
-broaden its repertoire and generally have more flexibility
-be much more diverse
-be open to wider influences
-work with a wide range of guest musical directors
NYJO itself, as a working band for 18-25s, needs to align its activity much more closely into partnerships and collaborations with the rest of the 18-25 jazz education world - i.e. the music colleges, and others.
Meanwhile under-18 NYJO 2 needs to find its position on the under-18 education map alongside other entities, such as the youth bands in Wigan, Doncaster, Hampshire, and to be more obviously London-centred.
A proud legacy
There is a strong feeling around that nobody has done more to further the cause of forming jazz musicians than Bill Ashton, but everyone including Ashton himself knows that the torch now needs to be passed on. There is also real bench-strength in the current team: Mark Armstrong, Paul Eshelby and Steve Titchener.
Nigel tells me that a panel of people has been helping the NYJO board. People such as Gary Crosby, Pete Churchill, Simon Purcell, Dave O' Higgins, Alex Webb, Christine Allen, Oliver Weindling...and others have given of their time and made valuable suggestions.
Such good signs here. A lot of excellent people rowing together.
(that's the "row" which rhymes with ....."mellow.")