In September NYJO was involved in a ground-breaking collaboration with its German and Dutch counterparts – BuJazzO and NJJO. Performing in Heek, Dusseldorf and Dortmund, the three bands finished off their tour of Europe with a storming performance at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis. These performances were preceded by four days of intensive rehearsals to learn new repertoire, followed by evening jam sessions in smaller ensembles which allowed the musicians to get to know each other and learn from each other’s styles. Band members also had to chance to lead rehearsals and sectionals throughout the week.
In this spirit of collaboration, the music directors made the decision to intermingle the British, Dutch and German bands, swapping the musicians in and out between each piece, so that the make-up of the ensemble on stage was constantly changing. This was illustrated by the different young musicians wearing different t-shirts, with NYJO in blue, BuJazzO in black and NJJO in orange. It offered visual proof of the extent of integration and cultural exchange between them. It’s perhaps only in jazz that such an approach is possible, as a music itself founded on cultural exchange. It demonstrates, as NYJO’s Musical and Artistic Director Mark Armstrong said, that NYJO is not a ‘Brexit Big Band’, but has its sights set on international collaboration and partnership.
On the journey back from Amsterdam, we captured the following comments from our band members:
‘A fantastic opportunity for us to make music with our European friends and to be introduced to diverse ways of making music.’
‘The playing of the other groups was so inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the writing of Martin Fondse [director of NJJO]. It was a wonderful opportunity for collaboration.’
‘To experience a different culture and a great opportunity to develop life-long skills within the context of a great touring experience.’
A return leg of the Three Nations Under One Groove tour is planned for March 2017, with performances at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 29 March, then on Thursday 30 March will play at Kings Place, London, and will finish on Friday 31 March at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival. As part of the UK performances, all three bands will be working with local ensembles in workshops and jam sessions, to extend the reach of the project and deliver an even more significant long-term impact.
The profile of the collaboration continues to grow, and it is with excitement that we await the next chapter in this multi-faceted, exciting partnership!
Link to article online: http://www.londonjazznews.com/2016/09/feature-nyjos-september-2016-tour-with.html