Mark Armstrong – Artistic and Music Director NYJO
Mark Armstrong was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and studied at Oxford University and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London.
Re-appointed as the Artistic and Music Director for NYJO in 2012, Mark had taken the rehearsals and written for the band for many years – before that Mark was a member of the NYJO’s trumpet section.
As a composer and arranger he has written extensively for big band and is a former winner of the BBC Big Band Competition arranging prize. Additionally, he composes and arranges for a variety of forces from small jazz ensemble to full orchestra and many of his works have been recorded by NYJO.
As a performer, he was nominated in the best trumpet category of the 2007 Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Awards and he performs regularly with the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra and in small groups. He also has a busy career as a freelance player in London.
Mark Armstrong is Jazz Professor at the Royal College of Music in London and works as a moderator, trainer and examiner for the ABRSM.
Sebastiaan de Krom – MD NYJO Academy Big Band
Sebastiaan was born in Holland and developed an interest in playing the drums encouraged by his father.
By the time he left school, Seb felt that – rather than go to a conservatoire which had a classical music emphasis – he’d be better off learning jazz by playing it in jazz clubs. He also became convinced that the only way to learn jazz properly was to go to the United States. So, in 1992, while studying law, he attended a course that Berklee College of Music was giving at an Italian Jazz Festival. As a result of this, he was awarded a scholarship and moved to Boston to study music for five years. Seb graduated cum laude with a dual degree from BCM, and afterwards went on to study for a Masters Degree at New England Conservatory.
In 1995 he won the prestigious Buddy Rich Award and from 1997/9 was the drummer for the renowned Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Performance programme. He has performed with artists such as Herbie Hancock and John Scofield, and between 2001/8 played drums in Jamie Cullum’s regular touring and recording rhythm section. Currently Seb is the drummer of choice for a wide variety of top UK jazz musicians and groups – he is also a drum tutor at BIMM London.
He was appointed MD of NYJO’s Academy Big Band in February 2015
Gemma Buckenham – MD NYJO Jazz Ensemble
Gemma is a trumpet player and music educator. Hailing from Lincoln, she was inspired to start learning the trumpet as a child after seeing NYJO perform.
Gemma has worked in the U.K and internationally with many pop artists including Marc Almond, Roy Wood, Cyndi Lauper and Gloria Estefan. She has performed in musicals and theatre shows in the West End and tours ranging from Return to the Forbidden Planet to An Evening of Burlesque. She performs music from different genres. Other credits include touring the U.S.A in Pandemonium produced by the creators of Stomp.
Gemma composes and arranges music and has written for, amongst others, U.S.Blues Artist Earl Thomas, Marc Almond and P&O Cruises. As a music educator she conducts music workshops, teaches brass and conducts youth and adult ensembles.
Phil Meadows – MD NYJO London
Phil studied at Manchester’s internationally renowned Chetham’s School of Music before moving on to study jazz at Leeds College of Music, where he graduated with a first class honours and was awarded the George Murphy Prize for Saxophone. Phil was then offered a place on the Arches Scholarship to study jazz at postgraduate level at Trinity Laban, motivating a move to the capital to complete his Master’s degree in 2012.
A winner of the prestigious Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, as well as Jazz Newcomer Of The Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, Phil is also the musical and artistic director of the Engines Orchestra. He has performed at the BBC Proms, Glastonbury Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, Bridgewater Hall and the Sage in Gateshead.
Phil runs the weekly rehearsals for the NYJO’s improvisation ensemble NYJO London.
Jessica Radcliffe – MD Vocal Class
Jessica studied at Wells Cathedral Specialist Music School from 2003 – 2010 before taking a BMus course at Trinity College of Music, specialising in Jazz Vocals.
She has been NYJO’s vocalist and vocal coach – preparing students for gigs, directing the vocal ensemble and giving workshops in jazz theory, sight reading, composition and arranging – since 2008.
In addition to singing Jessica also plays saxophone and can be regularly found performing across the rich London jazz scene.