The First rehearsal of what was to become NYJO took place on October 10th 1965 at the Marquee Club Wardour Street in Soho London.
Bill Ashton, then a French supply teacher had been sent to a school in North London. Bill’s interest in jazz, saxophone and big bands had led him to start the Oxford Union Big Band during his time there. So it was with some surprise that in this otherwise unremarkable North London School, he came across Frank Ricotti, already demonstrating musical skills on saxophone, clarinet and percussion way beyond his years. Not only that Frank wasn’t the only one. So it seemed that if such talents were to be found in one school, perhaps throughout London there could be found enough players to form a full bigband.
Well that was the idea so The London Schools Jazz Orchestra was formed.
Click on any picture to enlarge (all the sleeve notes are readable)
This screenshot from the band’s legendary first broadcast on BBC2 (then itself brand new) Late Night Line Up circa 1965 is the only surviving image of the LSJO.
Graham Collier directs the band. Front row, left to right; Bob Sydor, Stan Sulzmann, Tony Rowlands. Middle row trombones, not known
Back row, trumpets, not known except second from right Fred Hill (possibly).
If you can identify any of the unamed players, please let us know.
The name was soon changed to the London YOUTH Jazz Orchestra as the ages of players wanting to join started to go beyond school age.
Gathered around the piano, left to right;
Stephen Pheasant, Albert Van de Veld and Dave Gelly consider Bill’s thoughts on conducting. Who is the young alto player far right here and on the other photo, and who is peering over Bill’s shoulder? And who’s that at the back? Bob Sydor thinks its him.
These two photos kindly supplied by Les Cirkel.
Les on Drums inscribed NYJO 5/1966 Marquee London and general shot of rehearsal.
The London Youth Jazz Orchestra!
In performance! (check the sign)
Back row; Sam Fendrich-Bass Stephen Saunders- Tuba, Ken Gray Edward Reay-Smith and Godfrey Wigett
Trumpet hidden unknown, Dave Rose-Trumpet.
Middle row, Vince Neale, drums, trombones unknown
Front, Mike Townend-flute, Steve Pheasant, alto, Andy Mackintosh-alto, Tony Rowland-alto, Albert Van der Veld-tenor, Bob Sydor-tenor, Mike Page-baritone.
And again somewhere else!
The shades seemed to have swapped around in the saxes, Steve Saunders has put his Tuba on the chair and is playing trombone. Some of the brass players are a bit clearer, please let us know names.
The sign proudly bearing the orchestra’s name is there again. Remember it.
Steve Saunders did as you’ll see.
Because these photos are from the 1967 LYJO tour of France and then in 1968 to Bulgaria.
Amazingly this was all filmed by trumpeter David Rose.
Captured on silent 8mm movie film these trips show some of the earliest members of the orchestra.
Sadly no sound in those days, and mostly of the band doing other things (Dave couldn’t play and film).
The soundtrack is a selection from the first LP recorded by NYJO in 1970.
These 8mm reels kindly donated by David Rose
Click on blue links to view Dave’s 8mm movies of LYJO
This extraordinary piece of radio ‘In Town Tonight’ the band playing Harry South’s Six To One Bar and an interview with Vince and Bill.
Recording courtesy Vince Neale
A rare recording from BBC 2 of the band with Frank Ricotti soloing on Vibes on A Night In Tunisia
Recording courtesy Vince Neale
In 1970 LYJO was invited to the COI, Central Office of Information, Film studios near South Kensington London.
The recordings were for overseas Commonwealth distribution and made into 2 clips.
Among the bandmembers are; Dick Pearce, Alan Leggat, Keith Maynard, Colin Bastin,-tpts, John Elliott-tuba, Dick Walter, Ted Rockley- alto, Ron Shillingford-tenor, Paul Nieman- tbn Paul Westwood- bass, Jean Alain-Rouseau-piano, Heather Brundish, Anna Zee-flutes.
LYJO at the COI TV studios
The following year LYJO was at the ILEA, Inner London Education
Authority TV studios for more recording.
Domestic video recording was still some years away so these clips
are extremely rare.
The Cockpit years (first time round)
The Marquee Club Sunday afternoon rehearsal sessions came to an end and rehearsals decamped to The Metro Club in Westbourne Grove. This ended abruptly after only a few weeks when it burnt down. However this meant that The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, itself newly built in 1970 became the rehearsal venue for LYJO.
Later in 1971 LYJO becomes NYJO proudly emblazoned on its new wooden stands.
When LWT decided to do a Music in the Round series of programmes, the Cockpit was ideal and NYJO an obvious choice for a programme.
This video kindly provided from the ITV archives is remarkable. It’s an early example of colour TV (ITV had only started regular colour output in 1969) and looks brilliant. It’s the earliest images of NYJO in sound and colour.
Humphrey Burton is the affable unflappable, genial host and John Dankworth is on hand too.
And to confirm the orchestra’s new name the Opening number is Eddie Harvey’s NYJO!
NYJO first LP on Philips. It was a chance to get many of the players that had been in NYJO so far back together and with a truly eclectic range of original charts, from a variety of writers.
Check the personnel and the writers!
The next great episode was another tour abroad. This time to Poland and East Germany in 1972.
Mercifully no film or photographs have surfaced of that eventful tour (unless you know different) but shortly after saying goodbye to the Brandenburg Gate NYJO were back in the studio recording for Charisma the second LP.
This LP was at one time to be called ‘Gatecrasher’ after one of the tracks and was going to look a bit like this.
But they saw sense and released it with the more imaginative name of NYJO
Gatecrasher was released as a single.
Just 3 years later The National Youth Jazz Orchestra is
capable of hosting its own National TV show on BBC2 in this example of BBC 2 ‘In Concert’
Dave Shiers was in the NYJO trumpet section around 1972 and recalls an extraordinary NYJO gig at the Wembley Arena and unearthed these photos.
Click on any photo for full picture, they’re not that clear though!
Photos show; saxes, Ted Rockley, Dave White, Michael White, Stan Willis Anna Zee, Trumpets, Martin Bunce, Dave Shiers, Larry Tyrie, Dick Pearce, and another, Trombones; Paul Nieman, Noel Fraser, and more, French horn tbc, Rhythm; Paul Westwood Bass, Les Cirkle Drums, Piano, tbc, Bill Ashton directs.
If you can identify any others please let us know.
I remember it well, a workers’ benefit of some sort. We got things started late afternoon, the main acts were due on in the evening and I recall walking past Slade as we left through the stage door. Performing was a strange experience as the place was vast and the sound just seemed to disappear but the band played well.
This performance includes a vocal by a young man from the trombone section. Is this the first time Lance Ellington sings on BBC TV?
Certainly wasn’t the last, Lance Ellington is now a regular singer on BBC TV Strictly Come Dancing!
Did you recognise him?
In 1976 NYJO were with Humphrey Burton again, this time on BBC 2’s Arts programme Omnibus.
Introduced by Humphrey Burton
As Humphrey mentioned in his introduction NYJO were about to tour again.
In 1976 the US Bicentennial Year NYJO went to Reno Nevada USA.
This Home movie was
shot by Guy Barker’s father in the UK and his uncle in the US.
Originally shot on silent 8mm film, this VHS transfer is somewhat
primitive yet still fascinating. The music is from the NYJO LP Return Trip.
(if anyone knows the whereabouts of the original 8mm please get in touch)
NYJO 1976 at LWT.
NYJO recorded a programme for LWT, London Weekend Television in 1976 at their South Bank Studios.
These 2 videos are the raw material, so they’re not fully edited for transmission but a record of the recording session itself.
This concludes with a remarkable duet from Phil Todd and Chris Hunter.
afternoon rehearsal at LWT August 1976
kindly submitted by Nigel Fox-piano.
These formed the basis for the 4th LP Eleven Plus Live at LWT on RCA. (Which is why this first ‘decade’ is 11 years, spookily predicted by the track on the first LP ‘Eleven Years After’!
And another almost the same, but the stands first seen in the Music in the Round clip but with the ‘bottle’ style letters have been updated again!
Cockpit Music in the Round for LWT
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If you have material you’d like to share on the NYJO Archive or can help identify players please contact the NYJO office nyjo.org.uk