The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) is Britain’s longest-running organisation for young people up to 25 playing big-band jazz. Formed 50 years ago to fill a gap in jazz education, the charity’s mission is to perform exceptional music to excite audiences and engage with young people of all backgrounds around the country. Young people are at the heart of everything NYJO does: the performing band is a world-class orchestra whose members are young enough to inspire and be identified with by audiences and children. It offers unique opportunities for its members to perform nationally and internationally and to promote jazz to the widest possible audience whilst they themselves are at the beginning of their musical careers. NYJO also offers its members and those involved in its educational programmes the chance to be involved in a unique musical community of likeminded, passionate, talented young musicians at a pivotal point in their personal development.
The main performing orchestras features 23 musicians, most of whom go on to join the profession and has helped launched the careers of many of the UK’s most renowned jazz musicians including Guy Barker and Amy Winehouse. It performs around 40 times annually throughout the UK and recent highlights have included the yearly residency at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, performing with Gregory Porter at Buckingham Palace, a tour of Germany and England with the German Youth Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO), a televised performance at the BBC Proms and repeat appearances at the EFG London Jazz Festival. NYJO has over 40 albums to its credit and ‘NYJO FIFTY’, a celebratory double-album was released to wide acclaim in November 2015.
The charity also operates the weekly NYJO Academy (which contains several training bands and a vocal ensemble for young musicians of different abilities) as well as a nationwide series of inspirational workshops and educational events in association with the performance programme, intended to educate and inspire young people with a love of music and jazz.
“Don’t believe the hype: if you seriously want to hear the best of what’s to come, check out the many NYJO projects… The National Youth Jazz Orchestra [is] a vibrant, diverse collective of bands that give voice to all that’s different, young and exciting in Brit jazz.” Jazzwise Magazine, Who to Look Out For in 2016