NYJO Academy Big Band @ The Manor – 17th March 2013

NYJO Academy Big Band @ The Manor – 17th March 2013

In The Band: Paul Eshelby directing Knut Rygnestad (piano): Ben Crane (bass); Charlie Heyward-Smith/Sam Ainslie (guitar); James Dancer (drums); Alistair Martin, Tim Davies, Brindley Heyward-Smith, Alfie Smart, Marcus Tuchel (trumpets); Colin Tuchel, Josh Tagg, Daniel Higham, Robert Good (trombones); saxes: Dan Mannion (baritone), Sean Payne, Sam Norris, Jess Shears, Asha Parkinson, Josh Schofield (altos), Leanne Bashford, Joe Reeve (tenors); Lucy Songe/Kezia Exley (vocals).

Set 1: The Heat Is On (Sammy Nestico) [solos: Joe, Leanne, James] : Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson) [solos: Dan, Charlie, Josh T, Asha, Daniel] : Speak Low (Kurt Weill) [solo: Leanne, Alistair; soli: sax section] : Boplicity (Miles Davis, arr. Frank Mantooth) [solos: Dan, Alistair] : The Lady Is A Tramp (v) (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) [Lucy (voc); no solos] : Moten Swing (Benny Moten) [intro: Knut & rhythm section; solos: Leanne, Alistair] : Witchcraft (Cy Coleman, re-arr. Tom Kubis) [solo: Leanne] : Fun Time (Sammy Nestico) [solos: Knut, James].

Set 2: Just Friends (John Klenner, arr. Rob McConnell) [intro: Charlie; soli: sax section; solos: Josh T, Joe, Josh S] : Blues In Hoss’ Flat (Frank Foster, arr. Mark Taylor) [solos: Leanne, Brindley, Josh T, Sam A, Daniel] : Night In Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie) [soli: sax section; solos: Alistair, Daniel, Sean, Sam N] : You’ve Got A Friend In Me (v) (Randy Newman) [Kezia (voc); solo: Leanne] : On The Street Where You Live (Stan Kenton, arr. Lennie Neihaus) [no solos] : Black Orpheus (aka Manhã de Carnaval)* (Luis Bonfá) [feature for Asha (tnr); solos: Charlie, Paul (pno)] : Have You Met Miss Jones?* (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) [feature for Asha (alt); solos: Charlie, Ben, James] : St Thomas (aka The Lincolnshire Poacher/Fire Down There) (Trad, arr. Sonny Rollins) [duet: Leanne, Alistair] : Watch What Happens (v) (Michel Legrand/Norman Gimbel) [Lucy (voc); solo: Joe] : Ain’t It Wonderful (George Gershwin, re-arr. Tom Kubis) [intro: Sam A; solos: Leanne, Josh T, Sean].

(* these numbers were performed by the Asha Parkinson Quartet)

Jottings: The NYJO Academy was set up earlier this year to run more efficiently the educational aspects of NYJO’s activities, linked to, but separate from, the operational side of the main gigging band. This was done so as to provide a clear and logical progression pathway for young musicians seeking a career in jazz and its related genres.

The Academy structure accommodates four main activities: a Jazz Ensemble, catering for under 16s getting their first experience of large ensemble playing; a Big Band, as a potential step for older, more experienced, players seeking audition/selection for the main NYJO band; a Vocal Workshop for aspiring jazz singers; and NYJO London, focussing on developing local young musicians’ small ensemble playing and improvisational skills.

The concert, which brought to a close seven years of regular Sunday big band sessions at The Manor, was a first public outing for the NYJO Academy Big Band, whose nicely varied, and well-rehearsed, programme mixed canonical compositions by the likes of Sammy Nestico, Oliver Nelson, Frank Foster, Benny Moten and Dizzy Gillespie with not-so-often-heard numbers by Kurt Weill, Randy Newman, Luis Bonfá, and Sonny Rollins.

Performances of note included Leanne’s superbly controlled tenor soloing on, amongst others, The Heat…, Speak Low and Blues…; Dan’s big baritone contributions to Stolen Moments and Boplicity; Knut’s eponymous piano playing on Fun Time; Alistairs’s top trumpet on Moten Swing, St Thomas and …Tunisia, the latter also featuring some lovely alto from Sean; and Josh T’s trombone mastery on Just Friends and Ain’t It…NYJO Academy Big Band @ The Manor – 17th March 2013

There were only three vocal numbers, but Lucy essayed a stirring rendition of Lady… and later a more relaxed Watch…, featuring Joe’s tenor, whilst Kezia gave Randy Newman’s You’ve Got… a rare outing, along with Leanne’s tenor accompaniment.

The second set hosted a brace of numbers by the Asha Parkinson Quartet, featuring Paul on piano, which Asha (right) led with insouciant confidence. Her tenor playing on the bossa stylings of Luis Bonfá’s Black Opheus – not a number we’ve heard previously at The Manor – was lovely to listen to, as was her swinging alto interpretation of Have You Met…?; Asha’s mastery of her material, and her instruments, would be the envy of many older saxophonists. Of the rest of the quartet, Charlie’s guitar solos on both numbers were models of their kind, whilst James and Ben, as they did for the band all afternoon, provided rock-solid rhythmic support.

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photos: Chris Glass