The NYJO Jazz Exchange is a brand-new ensemble for inquisitive and unconventional young professional musicians at the start of their careers.

The ensemble operates alongside our existing Jazz Orchestra and provides an alternative route into the profession for emerging talent who don’t see themselves in the traditional setting of a jazz big band. Coached by vibes player and award-winning instrumentalist Orphy Robinson MBE in a musician-led environment, the Jazz Exchange rewards creativity and individuality above technical skills such as sight-reading – allowing any western tuning instrument to take part.

One of the major figures in the jazz scene, Orphy has made invaluable contributions to music in the UK and around the world, he has released records on Blue Note and played with artists like Courtney Pine, Don Cherry and Nigel Kennedy. Orphy has spent a big part of his career working in a variety of music and education projects at The Hackney Empire, Vortex jazz club, Warriors International and most recently, as both the Chair of the Jazz Executive committee and board-member of the Ivors Academy.

Orphy has also been a valued member of NYJO’s own board, which he joined in 2015.


“It is a privilege to be leading the NYJO Jazz Exchange. This exciting new project will provide progressive professional opportunities to those who don’t identify with traditional musical education routes. As a young player, I would have benefited enormously from this scheme. The jazz scene is constantly changing, and it’s important that NYJO does too.”

Oprhy Robinson MBE


Jazz Exchange

© Photo by Thomas Terminet


In July last year, we opened auditions for the Jazz Exchange to 18-25 year olds from across the UK, with a clear mission to find exquisitely talented young people eager to compose and perform original music in a collaborative cohort and whose personality showed through their unique arrangements. In November, 10 musicians were selected to form the first Jazz Exchange ensemble. From synths to cello, the ensemble is very unlike our more traditional Jazz Orchestra and promises to deliver exciting original music, bringing new sounds to NYJO and the UK jazz scene.  Every month, they gather under Orphy’s watchful eye to share and play their original pieces, allowing the musicians to write for a variety of instruments they wouldn’t normally interact with in such close proximity.

Over their two-year tenure, these young musicians will develop their distinct artistic voices, while forming a collective personality with NYJO’s support and Orphy’s world-class guidance.