INTERVIEW/ PREVIEW: Andrew Bain / PROM 28 (5th August, NYJOS with Liane Carroll and Iain Ballamy)

NYJOS at the new RSNO Auditorium in Glasgow Concert Halls
Photo courtesy of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland

Friday 5th August 2016 will be a very big night indeed for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland. Their 2016 summer tour culminates in the Royal Albert Hall. 

The main work is Ellington's "Such Sweet Thunder". The programme will also include Ian Ballamy's "All Men Amen" and "Floater". Pianist/vocalist Liane Carroll and the orchestra will perform tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Carole King and others.

NYJOS has performed this summer at the Skye Music Festival and in the new RSNO Auditorium at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. The night before the Prom they will also be at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon. Sebastian interviewed ANDREW BAIN, one of the joint Artistic Directors of NYJOS, as he looks forward to the Prom:

LondonJazz News : How long have you and Malcolm Edmonstone been involved with NYJOS

Andrew Bain: Malcolm and I have been Artistic Directors of NYOS Jazz for the past 11 years. Throughout that time we have had soloists and guest artists including Duncan Lamont, Jacqui Dankworth, Mike Walker, Chris Batchelor, Mark Lockheart, Iain Dixon, Rick Taylor, Liane Carroll, Gordon McNeil, Tim Garland, Julian Arguelles and, most recently, Iain Ballamy.

It has always been important to us to bring musicians from south of the border to mix with the fantastic Scottish talent, giving the students the best of both worlds and a truly unique experience. In addition to that our summer school staff includes more of the finest musicians to be found in the world. Since 2006, we have, at one time or another, involved Percy Pursglove, Jules Jackson, Phil O'Malley, Malcolm MacFarlane, Nick Smart, Jon Irabagon, Nick Dover, Ryan Quigley, as well as many others.

We are incredibly proud of the hundreds of young Scottish musicians we have had on our various courses. Many of those are now fine, professional musicians, having gone on to study at one of the many fine jazz courses in the UK, Europe and North America.

LJN: The youth jazz scene in Scotland - how is it?

AB: The scene is varied and vibrant. We are constantly amazed at how many times we have visited a far flung part of Scotland and discovered an amazing talent. Our work takes us all over Scotland, from the Borders to Wick, to Skye and Shetland. We think it is incredibly important to hear and nurture talent from all over the country.

Through NYOS we run three different ensembles in addition to the Summer School.

- NYOS Jazz Access trains our young musicians for the demands of

- Our flagship jazz orchestra the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland (NYJOS).

- We also have a chamber jazz orchestra Collective that meets at various times to focus on a prominent jazz musicians repertoire and play a major jazz festival. Guests have previously included Julian Arguelles and Tim Garland, with Gwilym Simcock and Asaf Sirkis. This would feature the most senior members of the jazz program.

LJN: Do you always go to Skye?.... why?

AB: We first played on Skye at the amazing Sabhal Mor Ostaig in July 2012 with Rick Taylor as soloist and guest writer, and we fell in love with the vibe and the view. We knew we had to take the entire course there the following year and we have been there ever since. It is a proper residential course with nothing to do but listen to and play jazz - perfect!

LJN: Midges?

AB: Not as bad as you would think! Pack Smidge or eat Marmite (apparently...)!

LJN: And this is quite a big date for the orchestra and they are presumably more than a little excited

AB: The band are playing wonderfully and are so incredibly excited to be playing at the BBC Proms. I had the pleasure to do the same as a member of NYOS Orchestra as a student, but this is the first time any NYOS jazz orchestra has participated in the Proms. We have packed a super program of Duke Ellington's Such, Sweet, Thunder - alongside two of our most recent soloists Iain Ballamy and Liane Carroll with bespoke arrangements by Malcolm Edmonstone. It is a stellar program with something for everyone, and we all cannot wait to play it in The Albert Hall.

LJN: What has been your contribution - to the preparation on the night?

AB: I have taken care of Such, Sweet, Thunder - which I conduct - and I play percussion and coach the rhythm section for the rest of the performance. I find myself most effective as part of the band, be it playing congas, cowbell, or finger cymbals!

What is the background to the Ellington work

AB: In 1956, jazz composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was in Stratford, Ontario appearing with his Jazz Orchestra. Coincidentally, there was a Shakespeare Festival happening at the same time and the Duke attended several performances. Inspired by what he saw in person, Ellington wrote a suite of music, dedicated to the Bard, entitled Such Sweet Thunder as an ‘attempt to parallel the vignettes of some of the Shakespearean characters in miniature - sometimes to the point of caricature’ (Ellington, 1957).

Much like Shakespeare, Ellington's orchestra was his own repertory cast, writing each piece specifically for each member. This suite of music featured such luminaries of the jazz world as Clark Terry, Johnny Hodges, and Sam Woodyard. In twelve movements, this work, orchestrated by Billy Strayhorn, focuses on each player with specific reference to ten of Shakespeare’s plays. In our version, we feature the most talented jazz musicians in Scotland, in a dedication to both William Shakespeare and Duke Ellington, two of the greatest writers of all time.

We perform this suite as part of the Shakespeare anniversary

Andrew Bain
Photo courtesy of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland

Prom 28 Bookings
NYOS website
Andrew Bain

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