The NYJO Jazz Exchange: Meet Orphy Robinson

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NYJO’s new initiative, the NYJO Jazz Exchange, will be coached by award-winning instrumentalist, Orphy Robinson MBE.

Orphy works in a variety of forms including jazz, free improvisation and funk, and has a long-standing association with classical violinist Nigel Kennedy.

We caught up with Orphy to get his thoughts on this exciting project.

The NYJO Jazz Exchange: Meet Orphy Robinson

I didn’t take the traditional jazz education route. I got inches from a music degree at Goldsmiths, before deciding to join a band with Courtney Pine and learn on the job. It was a baptism of fire – we took 76 flights in 6 months.

People laughed at me when I said I wanted to become a musician. When I was young, I was told by a careers advisor that music was a “stupid” idea. He suggested banking or insurance, but all I wanted to do was make music.

I chose not to toe the line; I took my own path. That’s what the NYJO Jazz Exchange is all about – a chance to be create your own sound and to do things your own way.

Having done the DIY route, I was hands-on with everything, from branding to bookings. That’s what we want the Jazz Exchange cohort to take control of. Formal training is great, but you might miss out on the practical side of being a musician – how do you start and sustain your career?

Have something to say about your music; a lot of players have nothing to say about the music they’ve written – it’s vital to know how to sell yourself in big press interviews, how to articulate yourself. It sounds blunt, but if you’re boring, people won’t play your music.

The NYJO Jazz Exchange offers a different way of doing things; it’s not a ‘one thing fits all’ – different people need different stimuli. We work with musicians’ strengths and give them options. The twelve notes that we use are everyone’s, and they can be used in so many different ways.

This project will help you find your identity. It’s not about ten carbon copies, it’s about collaboration across the country, calling on all different types of skills.

I’m excited about finding and polishing gems. I’d like the ensemble to have a unique sound, something that people wouldn’t expect of NYJO. We want to find originals.

Thinking of applying to the Jazz Exchange? Do it! You’ve got everything to gain. You’ve got nothing to fear but fear itself.



Find out How to Apply for the NYJO Jazz Exchange

Read our Frequently Asked Questions


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