Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders

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Following a successful round of auditions at the start of the year, we are delighted to welcome these twelve talented young professionals into the Jazz Orchestra. Some faces may already be familiar to NYJO fans as having deputised in the orchestra at previous performances.

Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Maria Rehakova – Flute

Maria is a Flautist, Singer and Composer based in London. She finished her Bachelor’s Degree in jazz at the Guildhall School of Music, where she studied flute with some of the countries’ top jazz and classical flautists including Gareth Lockrane, Ian Clarke, Stan Sulzmann and more. She also studies 2nd study jazz voice with Tina May.

She performs regularly in various bands, both in London and in her home country Slovakia and has performed in some of the top music venues including Ronnie Scott’s, Kings Place, The Barbican, Milton Court Hall, The Spice of Life and more. She also runs a few of her own projects including a jazz duo Maria & James and a fusion sextet Topoľana where she combines her musical heritage (Slovak folk music) with jazz.

Maria is also an educator. She has been teaching since 2015: private tuition for both children and adults, group improvisation lessons and music workshops on various topics (instrumental practice, playing in a band, composition, confidence on stage and more)! She is one of the founding members of “Za hranice s hudbou” (Music without boundaries): a Slovak NGO with a vision to educate in musical genres that aren’t readily available in Slovakia (Jazz, Popular Music, Electronic Music and more). They have been organising summer workshops since 2017 and their long-term vision is to establish a college of jazz and popular music in Slovakia’s capital city Bratislava.



Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Sean Payne – Alto Sax

Having played the Saxophone since the age of 8, Sean started learning Jazz music when he was 11 years old and has been playing it ever since. At the age of 13, Sean was a finalist in the first ever BBC Young Jazz Musician Of The Year and studied at the Purcell School of Music from the age of 12.

Sean is currently studying on the BMUS Jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music and is working regularly with Clark Tracey’s Quintet alongside various other groups including his own Quartet and Alex Garnett’s London Supersax Project. Sean has performed under his own name and as a sideman at Ronnie Scott’s, 606 Club, Vortex, Pizza Express, Bimhuis and Stadtgarten to name a few.

Having been classically trained prior to starting Jazz, Sean would like to continue playing Classical and composing as much as possible alongside leading his own groups, playing as a sideman and working in big bands such as NYJO.



Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Tim Rabbitt – Lead Trumpet

Tim is from Swindon and currently studying for a Master’s degree in Jazz Trumpet at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He has loved playing in big bands since the age of 13 and considers them the height of musical experience and thrill!

He studied with Laurie Parkinson and Mike Daniels before starting his BSc. in Physics at the University of Bristol, where he was lead trumpet for the auditioned big band. He then earned a PGCE before deciding to start a full-time career in trumpet playing. He decided to undertake postgraduate study to further his understanding of jazz and musicality. He now studies with Percy Pursglove and Ryan Quigley.

Tim enjoys gigging around the country with different bands and even touring abroad including venues in Barcelona, Lausanne, Venice, Düsseldorf, and The Bimhuis in Amsterdam.



Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Steve Payne – Horn

Stephen is a fourth year undergraduate student of The Royal Academy of Music, currently studying with Richard Watkins, having previously studied with Michael Thompson. Stephen started playing the horn age 10 and just five years later he successfully auditioned for Junior Guildhall and began studying with David Bentley. Later that year Stephen was selected to play Principal Horn in the LSO Youth Orchestra at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Having developed a keen interest in Musical Theatre, Stephen auditioned for The National Youth Music Theatre and was selected to play Principal Horn on ‘BRASS’ by Benjamin Till, which won Best New Musical 2015. The success of this show lead to the production of two music videos, an Original Cast Recording and a re-run at the Hackney Empire in 2016.

Recent Performances of note include The Royal Opening of the Francis Crick Institute with GMT Brass Ensemble, an appearance on Channel 4’s ‘The Last Leg’ in a Brass Quintet and Konzertstuck for Four Horns and Orchestra (Solo Horn) at St James’, Sussex Gardens and St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road.

Outside of Solo playing, Stephen has recently completed the prestigious LRAM Teaching Diploma with Paul Harris and John Hutchins, and has also been having a lot of success with his Horn quartet ‘Capital Horns’ and as such has lined up a number of concerts for the ensemble in the coming year.



Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  



Jacob Cooper – Trombone

Originally from Yorkshire, Jacob began trombone lessons aged 7 and quickly became interested in jazz. He first rehearsed with NYJO in 2012 but started regularly gigging with the band in 2016. Since then, he has performed with internationally-acclaimed artists such as Iain Ballamy, Liane Carroll and Rufus Reid and with big bands including the Gareth Lockrane Big Band and the London Jazz Orchestra at venues including The Barbican, Ronnie Scott’s and The 606 Club.

Also a keen composer, Jacob recently recorded his original music at Abbey Road Studios. Jacob is a current 3rd year Jazz student of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is taught by musicians including Barnaby Dickinson, Trevor Mires and Gareth Lockrane.





Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  




Daniel Higham – Trombone

Daniel has been playing the trombone since the age of 8 and has been involved in NYJO’s organisation ever since, starting in the Academy Big Band (formerly NYJO 2) the same year. He has since been awarded a scholarship to begin studying jazz in September at the Royal Academy of Music after completing 4 years in the junior jazz department with Gareth Lockrane and Simon Colam. For the past few years he has been fortunate enough to study with George Hogg.






Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Harrison Maund – Trombone

Harrison started playing the Trombone at the age of 6 through the Wigan Music Service. At the age of 11 he attended Chetham’s School of Music where he found his love for Jazz. Harrison is currently studying  on the jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music, in his 2nd year.





Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  



Eddie Curtis – Bass Trombone

Eddie Curtis is a Bass Trombonist currently in his third year of study at the Royal College of Music. Eddie has performed with Orchestras and Big Bands at concerts and festivals across the country and abroad playing a wide variety of Jazz, Swing, Pop and Classical music. He began studying the Bass Trombone at the RCM Junior department under Peter Harvey, and now learns with RCM Professors David Stewart and Paul Milner. In 2016 Eddie won the Saffron Walden Music Festival and performed the Lebedev Concerto in Saffron Hall. In the past year Eddie has made appearances with the RCM Symphony Orchestra, Orion Orchestra, Amati Orchestra, University of London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonica featuring Mr Switch and NYJO.




Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Luke Tomlinson – Drums

Luke Tomlinson is a young and budding drummer on the rise in the UK music scene. Originally hailing from Derby in the East Midlands, Luke began playing the drums at the age of 6 and was working professionally by the time he was 13. After studying with some of the UK’s finest musicians, such as Matt Skelton, Gareth Lockrane and Martin France, Luke eventually made the move to London in 2015 to study Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music. He has, since then, begun to firmly establish himself on the London jazz scene as “a highly charged, creative and swinging drummer” (Gareth Lockrane), with Joe Locke describing him as “an excellent drummer… it was a lot of fun playing with him”. Luke currently plays regularly with artists such as Emma Smith and Pete Ibbetson and is involved a number of different bands and projects such as Said Skeleton, Capital Orchestra and his own piano trio.




Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  



Miles Mindlin – Guitar

Miles Mindlin began learning Jazz guitar aged 8 with his father, also a musician. He has since studied at The Purcell School and The Royal Academy. Still only 18 , he has established a busy career as a sideman with some of the top names in the country playing the top clubs and Festivals such as Ronnie Scott’s and Manchester jazz festival. He is now beginning to lead his own bands including his trio





Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Alex Taylor – Vibes/Percussion

Originally from Northamptonshire, Alex started his musical education on drum kit, but eventually moved on to playing percussion in county orchestras and ensembles. At the age of 17 he began playing the vibraphone in his local county big band, which first sprouted his interest in Jazz. Alex is now in his fourth and final year at the Royal College of Music, where he studies a mixed percussion course with Alex Neal, Ralph Salmins, Anthony Kerr and ex NYJO percussionist Hugh Wilkinson.

Being a percussion student at RCM has given him the opportunity to play more orchestral music in the RCM Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, alongside the Big Band and jazz projects. He has also found himself playing much more contemporary music which, as a percussionist, can sometimes involve some very adventurous demands. The RCM has also given Alex many opportunities to work in education and workshop environments which he really enjoys. Outside of the RCM he is a keen performer of small band jazz music on both drums and vibes, as well as performing with and arranging for the Imperial College Big Band.

When Alex completes his studies at the RCM he hopes to play professionally exploring contemporary music and mixed ensemble repertoire, alongside modern jazz music. One of Alex’s greatest hobbies is making his own percussion instruments and collecting a variety of instruments from different world music and cultures, exploring unusual sounds and textures. He wants to someday travel the world to experience ethnic music first hand



Introducing our new Jazz Orchestra chair-holders  


Charlie Bates – Composer

Charlie is a composer, arranger and pianist based in London. He graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with first class honours, also winning the Composition Prize, Jazz Performance Prize and Deans’ Award for Exceptional Achievement. In 2017, He released his debut album for big band entitled ‘Silhouettes’. The album was a hit with the critics and was dubbed ‘Impressive and Inventive’ by The Guardian. Charlie has written arrangements for some of the UK’s finest singers, including Claire Martin and Clare Teal and in recent months has been studying with Grammy nominated composer, Jim McNeely. In 2019, Charlie was awarded the prestigious Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition.




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