Ahead of our Three Nations Under One Groove collaborative UK concert tour this April with our German and Dutch equivalent youth jazz orchestras (BuJazzO and NJJO) we caught up with BuJazzO Artistic Director Jiggs Whigham to talk about his thoughts on the upcoming tour, and to find out about his impending departure from BuJazzO.
- You’ve had an impressive career so far as an internationally acclaimed jazz trombonist, Bandleader, and Educator. Tell us a bit about how you got into jazz, and then later into jazz education.
I have been a professional musician for about 60 years – a long time! When I was 17 I became featured soloist and first trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Two years later, I was first and solo trombonist with Stan Kenton. I then did a year of studio and Broadway Musical engagements in New York, and became featured soloist with the Kurt Edelhagen Jazz Orchestra at the West German Broadcasting Company in Cologne.
In terms of jazz education, I have worked at various institutions throughout my career including the Cologne University College of Music, the Hanns Eisler College of Music in Belin, and Indiana University. I currently tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and am music and artistic director for the Brandenburger Youth Jazz Orchestra, Berlin Jazz Orchestra as well as of course BuJazzO.
- NYJO and BuJazzO have been collaborating since 2014. What is it about the collaboration that you think is so special?
It’s a win win win situation as far as I see it. The audiences will get to hear a lot of great music from three great bands from across Europe; the musicians in the bands get the opportunity to play and grow together; and us as the band leaders grow and develop with the experience as well. There is nothing negative about the collaboration at all, other than it doesn’t happen often enough!
- Can you tell us about the music BuJazzO will be performing at the UK leg of Three Nations Under One Groove this April?
Each of the bands will be performing half an hour of their own programme before we all mix together and perform in various unified groups, which creates a fantastic atmosphere. All three bands always perform very high-quality music. BuJazzO will be playing a programme of music mostly indigenous to Germany – written by German and European composers.
- We have heard that you are planning on stepping down from BuJazzO soon. What has been your stand-out moment as Artistic Director of BuJazzO?
I have been Artistic Director of BuJazzO for 12 years now. It has been fantastic it really has, and I have loved all of it. It was my choice to leave – it is time for someone new to take over and make their mark. My successor is actually a former student of mine which I’m really pleased about.
- What are your plans for after you leave BuJazzO?
I’ll still be teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music amongst other places as well as playing and performing. However, at my stage of life (I’m 75) it’s time for me to slow down a little bit. I want to watch the flowers grow and enjoy life with a little less work, more time with my family, and doing things I don’t usually have time to do (or usually have to cram in!).
Make sure you catch three of Europe’s finest emerging professional Youth Jazz Orchestras in action this April at a venue near you!
Friday 5 April – The Apex, Bury St Edmunds
Saturday 6 April – Blackheath Halls, London
Sunday 7 April – The Core at Corby Cube, Northamptonshire