|Martin Fondse of NJJO presenting the three bands on stage together in Nottingham|
Photo credit Charles Price
Photos of the Kings Place concert will be added later
NYJO / BuJAzzO / NJJO - Three Nations Under One Groove
(Kings Place Hall One. 30th March 2017. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
This has been quite a week for Europe. In a passionate speech about Brexit and about the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, Spanish MEP Esteban González Pons of Spain’s Partido Popular described Europe as "not a market"... but rather "the will to live together, the sharing of common dreams” (link below *). The bringing-together of three National Youth Jazz Orchestras of the UK, Germany and The Netherlands is the kind of project which makes such 'shared dreams' into a reality that can be lived, the kind of opportunity the younger generation needs and deserves.
As the evening at Kings Place progressed, the permutations of the musicians from the three bands became more effortless and seamless. As NYJO Artistic Director Mark Armstrong described the vibe of this week-long collaboration at the beginning of the concert: when a group like this, with young people from several countries meets, "we find we all share the same language and culture of music."
The first half of the concert which I heard presented the three bands separately. The highlight was the Dutch band playing two movements from a suite The Future is Now, written by director Martin Fondse, and finding interesting ways to explore the territory between Kenny Wheeler and prog rock.
My ears were certainly caught by a few individuals. BuJazzO drummer Alexander Parzhuber had that same way of looking totally in control of himself - and of the band - that Jonas Burgwinkel carries with him, or Hans Dekker of the WDR Big Band. From the Dutch band it was bass trombonist Lars de Bie bass trombonist with a sound so full and dependable you would build your house on it. And among the Brits there was the roar of James Davison on lead trumpet, he is a player right in that distinguished British line from Bobby Pratt and Derek Watkins to Noel Langley and onwards, and NYJO guitarist Nick Fitch's soloing again justified a growing, glowing reputation....
Richard Lee heard the whole concert and his notes which he shared with me highlight the "terrific vocal and soprano sax work from three women in the Dutch band in the first half" and from the second half - Cuban Fire - "incredible solo proficiency, and remarkably fluent ensemble playing of fiendish Kenton charts."
Cards on table: I have to confess a certain pride in having had a role right at the beginning of this ambitious project which has developed and grown and now manifestly proved its value. I was attending a jazz education conference in 2012, heard BuJazzO, and provided the original introduction of the (then) brand new General Manager of BuJazzO Dominik Seidler to the Chair of NYJO Nigel Tully. I wrote THIS PIECE - essentially as a way to inform the NYJO team what the similarities and differences were. The two sides duly met, the rest is not just history, but has been an amazing amount of dedicated work in planning, fundraising and logistics. What these two bands - now three - have built is truly impressive.
(*) Full speech by Esteban González Pons (VIDEO)
LINK:The Nottingham concert of this tour was reviewed by Charles Price of Jazz Plus
Review - Freedom and Friendship from 2014
Feature on these three orchestras' 2016 tour