Three Nations Under One Groove | 2020 Edition Goes Online!

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Three Nations Under One Groove featuring NYJO, Germany’s BuJazzO and the NJJO from Holland is back for 2020!

Three Nations Under One Groove is a collaboration between the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), Germany’s BuJazzO and the NJJO from Holland. Three large jazz ensembles, 85 of Europe’s top emerging jazz musicians, and for this year at least – a whole lot more Zoom!

The three bands have been collaborating since 2014, with this years’ project taking on a very 2020 spin due to the ongoing social distancing guidelines.

For the last outing in April 2018, the three orchestras met up for five days of collaborative music-making, which featured a UK tour plus an additional European leg for good measure. In 2020? things are a little bit different!

This time round, each of the three Artistic Directors – Mark Armstrong (NYJO), Martin Fondse (NJJO) and Niels Klein (BuJazzO) – have been challenged to come up with their own composition, which will be presented to the musicians to learn and perfect over the week. Each part will then be remotely recorded and mixed together to create three unique split-screen performances, due for release in October.

Three Nations Under One Groove | 2020 Edition Goes Online!
Mark leads NYJO for a Thee Nations performance in 2018

Martin Fondse (NJJO)

Pianist/composer Martin Fondse has been a long-time admirer of large ensemble music. The first band he formed in the 90s was De Achtbaan (an octet), which he later renamed the Martin Fondse Oktemble

Martin later founded The Groove Troopers, a small big band which he uses to navigates the traditional big band repertoire alongside the immediate movements of 21st century dance music. In The Starvinsky Orkestar (which later became The Martin Fondse Orchestra), Martin yet again explores the boundaries between two musical forces, this time between classical music and jazz. 

Martin’s arranging qualities have seen him work with all kinds of ensembles, including The Concertgebouw Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Metropole Orkest, and The Big Band Hessischer Rundfunk, who he is still very happy to work alongside to this day. Fondse can also be heard in the trio Izabel, as well as duo combinations alongside fellow pianist Wolfert Brederode, and Swiss clarinetist Claudio Puntin. 

In 2017, Martin was the recipient of The Boy Edgar Prize, an annual award given to a jazz musician, composer, or bandleader who has made significant contributions to the Dutch jazz scene.

Three Nations Under One Groove | 2020 Edition Goes Online!
Niels Klein, BuJazzO (left) and Martin Fondse, NJJO (right)

Niels Klein (BuJazzO)

Niels Klein started playing the saxophone at the age of thirteen. From 1998 he studied saxophone with Frank Gratkowski and Claudio Puntin as well as composition and arrangement at The Musikhochschule Köln. Niels first became a part of Federal Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO) as a soloist and composer. 13 years later – in tandem with American trombonist, Jiggs Whigham – Niels became the orchestra’s Artistic Director.

A fun fact for you: from 2001 to 2009, Martin was a member of Heavytones, the backing band for popular German television program TV Total, where he accompanied a range of popular acts such as Lionel Richie, Busta Rhymes, Anastacia, and Michael Bublé.

Niels is regarded as one of the most prominent young musicians on the German jazz scene. As a saxophonist and clarinetist, he regularly appears at national and international festivals and has collaborated with a long-list of talented musicians such as Toots Thielemanns, Jeff Hamilton, Nils Wogram, Albert Mangelsdorff, Bob Brookmeyer, Charlie Mariano, Peter Erskine, Vince Mendoza, Markus Stockhausen, Arkady Shilkloper, Victor Bailey, and many more.

The ECHO Jazz Prize Winner (2015) and WDR Jazz Prize Winner (2011) has garnered much interest from his own projects, such as his quartet Tubes & Wires and the orchestral project LOOM. Klein is a founding member of the Cologne jazz collective KLAENG, which has enriched the Cologne jazz scene with numerous events and festivals over the years. Klein has been professor for jazz saxophone at the Cologne University of Music and Dance since 2016.

Evening Sessions

This weeks’ activities will also be supported by a selection of super special evening events, where some of the most talented professionals working with large ensembles today will discuss their careers, pass on insights, and take questions from all the eager band-members in attendance.

We’ll be looking to catch-up with our guest speakers throughout the week, so watch this space for more stuff coming your way very soon!

Three Nations Under One Groove | 2020 Edition Goes Online!
The Inspiring figures of Miho Hazama (left) and Maria Schneider (right) lead the evening events

Tuesday 8th Sept | Miho Hazama (Metropole Orchestra)

Grammy-nominated composer, Miho Hazama is one of the most promising and talented composers/arrangers of her generation. Lauded in Downbeat as one of “25 for the Future”, Miho developed her signature jazz chamber orchestra m_unit. Miho has written for and expertly showcased the abilities of guest artists such as Joshua Redman, Lionel Loueke, Stefon Harris, and Gil Goldstein, to name a few.

Miho has also created works for many different musical contexts. Most notably, she has composed for Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Ashley Bouder Project Ballet Company and the Yamaha Symphonic Band, to name but a few. Miho became a composer in residence of The Siena Wind Orchestra in 2017, and was awarded the “Composer of the Year 2019” with The Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa.

In 2019, Miho took up a post as the chief conductor of The Danish Radio Big Band following on from Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely. Besides DR Big Band, Miho has worked as a conductor with Metropole Orkest, WDR Big Band and Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. She is also the Associate Artistic Director of the New York Jazzharmonic.

Wednesday 9th Sept | Better Health for Musicians with Hanna Keßeler

An avid flautist, Hanna Keßeler studied Rhythm and Movement Pedagogy in Vienna with a special focus on curative methodology. After graduating, she received a scholarship for Modern Expressive Dance here in the UK (York), whilst she began training to become a Franklin Method educator. 

Since 2005, Hanna has been working as a licensed practitioner in training and further education at the Institute for Franklin-Method, working in a variety of dance styles such as jazz, African-dance and Taktetina, amongst others. Since 2008, Hanna has been a lecturer at The University of Music and Dance Cologne.

Since completing her advanced training in Music Physiology in Everyday Art at The UdK Berlin in 2011, Hanna has been a consultant on musicians’ health, with a focus on the connection between posture training and efficient music-making, imagination and performance presence as well as stage coaching and injury prevention.

The Maria Schneider Orchestra play “Hang Gliding” at Jazz a Vienne (2008)

Thursday 10th Sept | A Conversation with… Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorisation.” She and her orchestra became widely known starting with the release of their very first recording, Evanescence, in 1994. The Maria Schneider Orchestra has gone on to perform at festivals and concert halls the world over. Maria’s success has seen her receive numerous commissions and guest-conducting invites, working with over 90 groups in over 30 countries.

Maria’s music blurs the lines between genres, making her long list of commissioners quite varied, stretching from Jazz at Lincoln Center, to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, to collaborating with David Bowie. She is among a small few to have received GRAMMYS in multiple genres, having received the award in both jazz and classical categories, as well as for her work with the trailblazing, Bowie.

Maria been awarded many honours by the Jazz Journalists Association, DOWNBEAT and JAZZTIMES Critics and Readers Polls. In 2012, her alma mater, The University of Minnesota, presented Schneider with an honorary doctorate. ASCAP awarded her their esteemed Concert Music Award in 2014. And in 2019, the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed on Schneider the nation’s highest honour in jazz, naming her an NEA Jazz Master.


We’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone taking part in this years events. With such limited opportunity for the Jazz Orchestra to get together in person, moments like this really help to inspire all of the young musicians we work with, during a time where practise and performance have been so dramatically affected.

We’ll be back with more news and views as the week unfolds!

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