My parents shared their love of Big Band music with my older brother and I from an early age, and I was hooked on recordings of Stan Kenton,Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. Presented with the opportunity to learn the clarinet aged 9, I applied myself to the classical charts. At the age of 11years, an inspirational Music teacher who loved Big Band music, persuaded my school to buy saxophones, and I was presented with my first Alto (�48 second hand from Bill Lewingtons).
As fate would have it some 4 years later, the late great Ivy Benson was on the look out for her next line up for the Tour of Germany and Switzerland. She called the school, then my parents ( we all fell over with amazement!), and I was whisked to Chiswick for the most bizzare audition of my lifetime: one chorus of Whispering, with Ivy accompanying, her neurotic poodle howling and The Big Match on in the background! ” you are in kid” she commented, and that was that. Playing with Ivys band was truly the best apprenticeship, and I soon learned that being a girl musician was no excuse for being anything other than one of the boys in the music business.
A successful seven year career on the touring showband circuit in Europe and Scandanavia ( a couple of promises of marriage and wealth did nothing to deter me !), lead to the pursuit of jazz and in 1978/9 I returned to the UK, and a chance introduction to NYJO via Dave Bishop: I remember the first rehearsal well:chaos..as luck would have it, there was a chair to be shared in the flute section, and I was soon on the bus and the gigs: Milford Haven, Scunthorpe, Bath and the Chiswick Flyover. After 6 months, in 1980 I went back to earn a few more Swiss Francs before returning to the UK and a completely new career in mental health nursing:a vocation that required creativity and improvisation.
So lets go forward a few decades: married to an Artist, and a late comer to motherhood, I am a Senior Manager, Nurse Specialist and Therapist in Suffolk these days, and have continued my love of Big Band Jazz. I lead the Ipswich based HORN FACTORY on Alto, and hold an Assistant MD post with the South Suffolk Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Two years ago, I resumed my affair with NYJO. My eldest son, a talented jazz drummer was ready for the NYJO experience, and Bill kindly recognised me straight away! This lead to my appointment to the Board of NYJO: truly an honour for an old jazz bird! My passions are jazz education, and supporting young peoples aspiration to play and perform to the highest standard and strengthen the links between positive mental health and creativity. I hope I can use my experiences as a jobbing musician with my expertise in understanding people and organisations to take the ambitions of NYJO forward.
I have no business interests to declare, and hold no other offices. I have achieved a BSc and MSc in my specialist field of nursing, and Grade 6 clarinet…..and I still play my first professional Alto sax: a Yamaha 61.