NYJO Presents was built to showcase up and coming talent from across the UK jazz scene during the national lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This grassroots, bottom-up platform was there for plural creative voices to continue to express themselves at the start of their careers, despite of the restrictions in place, live from the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
After an amazing run of livestreams featuring the likes of Helena Debono, Rosie Frater-Taylor, Roella Oloro, Karen Shiraishi and Asha Parkinson, NYJO Presents welcomed its first live audience for multi-instrumentalist, Emma Rawicz to coincide with the re-opening of Ronnie Scott’s.
This latest series of NYJO Presents show will pair established, seasoned professionals with young stars of the future, to explore the work of world-renown jazz icon together. Each show will be performed for a limited, live audience as well as livesteamed exclusively on DICE.FM.
EPISODE 1: MONK! FEAT. TONY KOFI & POPPY DANIELS
When NYJO set out to celebrate the work of the iconoclastic pianist, they knew there would be no one better to approach than Monk-specialist, Tony Kofi. Much like Tony’s Portrait of Cannonball (dedicated to Cannonball Adderley), this programme will celebrate someone who’s singular vision served to alter the fabric of jazz forevermore. The work of Thelonious Monk serves as a perfect example of such unwavering artistic vision. The most compelling jazz musicians are usually the ones who are successful in creating their own original world of music with its own rules, logic, and surprises – and with this in mind, Monk’s work represents a perfect repertoire to explore.
If this wasn’t enough, Kofi’s powerful and expressive performance style will be supported by one of the rising stars of UK Jazz right now, trumpeter Poppy Daniels! Both featured artists will be backed by a tight-knit NYJO rhythm section to boot. Expect a colourful programme full of joy and celebration!
EPISODE 2: WHEELER! FEAT. NIKKI ILES & A NYJO QUINTET
Nikki Iles has established herself as a major presence in the British jazz world. Since winning the John Dankworth Special Award at the BT British Jazz Awards in 1996, she has gone on to become one of the UK’s foremost composers, educators and pianists.As a musician, her highlights include successful stints with the Julian Argüelles Octet, the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, the Anglo Canadian Project, Toronto (with Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Tony Coe and Tina May), The Printmakers (with Norma Winstone and Mike Walker), Martin Speake’s ECM tour, Japan (with Karen Sharp and Tina May and Renga (with Rufus Reid).
It was as a member of the Creative Jazz Orchestra in the 90s that Nikki developed a natural affinity for the music of Kenny Wheeler. One of the most celebrated voices in contemporary UK and European jazz, Kenny Wheeler’s music is often characterised by a hauntingly lyrical and flowing musical style. His poignantly harmonised pieces have played all over the world, as well as being studied consistently on college courses to this day.Wheeler composed prolifically into his 80s, and some of his themes, such as ‘Everybody’s Song But My Own’ and ‘Kind Folk’ – went on to become revered jazz standards.
EPISODE 3: BLAKEY! NYJO PLAYS THE MESSENGERS WITH JEAN TOUSSAINT
Art Blakey was instrumental in reuniting the African roots of jazz with the innovations of bebop. Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the group he led for over 35 years, was the archetypal hard-bop ensemble of the late 1950’s. Originally formed as a collective of contemporaries, the band became known as an incubator for young talent, including Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller, Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Cedar Walton, Woody Shaw, Terence Blanchard, and Wynton Marsalis.
Originally from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, saxophonist Jean Toussaint left Berklee College of Music, Boston in 1982 to join Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. It was the beginning of an inspired four and half years spent with musicians including Terence Blanchard, Mulgner Miller and others. While in New York, Jean also worked with Gil Evans, McCoy Tyner and Wynton Marsalis. In 1987 he left Blakey to come to England for a few months. He stayed. Jean has since toured with many visiting American bands including Max Roach, Cedar Walton and David Murray as well as with his own bands. The Jean Toussaint Trio, Quartet and Quintet play swinging, surging straight-ahead contemporary jazz with a strong emphasis on melody. Nazaire, his electrocute band, plays a blend of jazz funk and club music.