Thursday, 15 November 2018

An evening of jazz from the movies

OVER the last three years Henley has signalled a positive and growing interest in big band jazz by filling the

OVER the last three years Henley has signalled a positive and growing interest in big band jazz by filling the Kenton Theatre for each appearance of one of Britain’s leading exponents of the genre — the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

NYJO is coming back again this year on Friday, November 8 with a concert at 7.30pm and an open rehearsal in the afternoon at 3.30pm.

This year the theme is Jazz Goes To The Movies. The 21-piece orchestra with vocalist will be playing special arrangements of Academy Award-winning songs and other famous themes from the great movies.

As well as the usual big band line-up, the NYJO also includes the flute and French horn which combine to bring the special sound and musicianship for which they are renowned.

The orchestra — set up in 1965 by Bill Ashton — provides a showcase for some of the country’s finest young jazz musicians. Young musicians from 12 to 24 are eligible and over the years the orchestra has been the springboard for some of the country’s leading jazz musicians including Courtney Pine, Mark Nightingale, Gerard Presencer, Guy Barker and Pete Long.

The jazz orchestra relies heavily on sponsorship. Alongside Arts Council England, BP and Jazz Services it has recently secured a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, an organisation which aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK. The grant will help the orchestra to continue to support the next generation of jazz musicians and to extend its national reach and impact.

The orchestra has performed all over Britian, as well as touring America, Australia and New Zealand, and has produced more than 40 albums. November’s performance at the Kenton comes at the end of a busy year for the orchestra which includes performances at the BBC Proms, the London Jazz Festival and Ronnie Scott’s, the release of a critically-acclaimed new album — The Change — and appearances on national TV and radio.

Mark Armstrong, a former alumnus of the orchestra, is the music and artistic director and will be conducting the concert. An Oxford University graduate, he trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is jazz professor at the Royal College of Music.

He is a prolific composer and arranger and as a trumpet player he plays regularly with Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra and in small groups here and further afield.

The afternoon open rehearsal not only presents an opportunity for youngsters from local schools and colleges to see the orchestra at work but it is also open to all enthusiasts.

Basil Evans, who helped organise the event for at the Kenton, said: “The National Youth Jazz Orchestra has developed a substantial following in Henley and another full house can be expected. But there are still many people — whether big band fans or not — who have yet to sample the unique experience of seeing this famous orchestra in concert. You would be advised to book early to secure the seats of your choice.”

Tickets can be bought online at or direct from the box office on (01491) 575698.

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