Have you ever been to see a big band gig and thought, “this is great, but what would be really cool is if there were THREE of these big bands here tonight from across Europe showcasing the amazing jazz talent of the future”?
Well, we did just that at the beginning of April when we were joined by our counterpart youth jazz orchestras NJJO of Holland and BuJazzO of Germany, for five days of collaborative music-making featuring a UK tour, which followed on from the European leg of the project in September 2018. Despite some logistical worries in the run-up to the UK tour (which was due to take place the week after the UK’s original planned departure from the EU…) the whole project was a huge success and a great opportunity for our young professionals to champion the case for continued cultural collaboration between the nations.
On the day of arrival, the German and Dutch bands joined our UK musicians at our temporary Three Nations Headquarters in Kent for a day and a half of rehearsals, late-night jam sessions and socialising ahead of the three-day tour to Bury-St-Edmunds, London, and Northamptonshire.
The three gigs showcased the three national bands individually at first. The musicians from each national band wore a distinct coloured t-shirt (NYJO in blue, NJJO in orange, and BuJazzO in Grey) and performed two charts each under the direction of their usual MDs (Mark Armstrong, Johan Plomp and Jiggs Whigham). Things were shaken-up after the interval when the musicians emerged on stage as three mixed nationality bands (highlighted by the now multi-coloured array of shirts on display). All three gigs were well received by an appreciative audience, a particular highlight being the moment at the end of each gig where all 70 musicians piled on stage (or in some cases appeared within the audience), instruments in hand, to join in a celebratory encore that resulted with the whole room on their feet!
A few press reactions from the tour:
“The players’ brightly-coloured T-shirts – royal blue, Ajax orange and a very serious dark grey, naturally – blended after the break as three “mixed bands” emerged, the players having been grouped without regard for nationality. Mixed-up T-shirt colours were a reminder that while jazz-people are good at friendly rivalry, their instinct for collaboration is even stronger… it was the three international scratch bands that left the deepest impression of what, given the chance to collaborate, these outstanding European musicians can do.”
Read the full article from London Jazz News here.
“The concert, part of a three-leg British tour, provided immutable evidence of the need for cross-European cooperation (with or without a “deal”) in jazz. It also demonstrated how brilliantly talented and professional all these young musicians are – we’ll doubtless hear much more of them in the future… Blackheath Concert Halls (part of Trinity Laban School Of Music) should be applauded for continuing to promote such high-calibre jazz concerts”
Read the full article from Jazz Journal here.
Thanks to our European friends for another unforgettable collaboration – here’s to the next one!
Photo credits: Matt Pannell