1. Mama Badgers (Julian Siegel)
2. Dreams Chris Whiter)
3. Wintermute (Kit Downes)
4. Rush Hour (Russel Ferrante/Robben Ford arr. Nick Dewhurst)
5. Sea Master (Tom Walsh)
6. Sub Hub Hubbub (Jason Yarde)
7. No Pão de Açuar (Owen Dawson)
8. Red Squirrel (Zoe Rahman arr. Mark Armstrong)
9. No Man Is An Island (Laura Jurd)
1. St. Louis Blues (W.C Handy arr. Mark Armstrong)
2. He’s Just My Bill (Mark Nightingale)
3. Ballad For Loos (Stan Tracey arr. Steve Melling)
4. Lullaby Of Broadway (Harry Warren/Al Dubin arr. Mark Armstrong)
5. My Romance (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart arr. Callum Au)
6. Never The Twain (Matt Wates)
7. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life (Michel Legrand arr. Mark Armstrong)
8. A Foggy Day (George Gershwin arr. Josh Daniels)
9. Going Dutch (Chris Smith)
10. Finding My Feet (Bill Ashton arr. Paul Hart)
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra
Mark Armstrong, Artistic & Music Director
Julian Siegel, tenor saxophone
Zoe Rahman, piano
Gareth Lockrane, flute
Mark Nightingale, trombone
Produced by Mark Armstrong and Miles Ashton
Executive Producer for Whirlwind Records, Michael Janisch
Recorded at Air Lyndhurst, London by Miles Ashton
Assistant Engineer: John Prestage
2nd Assistant Engineer: Tom Leach
Edited and Mixed in Temple Music, Sutton, UK, Novotel, Monte Carlo, Monaco and Milestone Productions, Watford, UK.
Mastered by Miles Ashton
NYJO FIFTY celebrates the 50th anniversary of a British institution, The National Youth Jazz Orchestra, who have recorded well over 40 albums to date with this their first release for Whirlwind. Recorded at Air Studios in London, the album reflects the wide range in repertoire, style and musical colors for which NYJO has become known, with a look at new repertoire and some of the band’s past favorites to celebrate 50 years as the UK’s premier youth big band. A double-disc album, the band’s contemporary material makes up Disc 1 with more traditional material on Disc 2. It has always been NYJO’s belief that in order to create a firm foundation for progression in the music, a clear sense of the legacy of jazz and in particular the great lexicon that makes up the big band style is needed. FIFTY accomplishes this and more with a program of varied arrangements reflecting trends in both historical and contemporary large ensemble jazz bands.
The album features special guest soloists in Mark Nightingale (trombone) and Gareth Lockrane (flute), arguably two of the best-known NYJO alumni who have contributed a great deal to the ensemble over the years as members and writers. Mark’s “He’s Just My Bill” has been a stalwart, and as yet unrecorded, selection in NYJO’s live concerts for many years. Gareth is featured on the Yellowjackets’ number “Rush Hour”. The album also features saxophonist Julian Siegel and his “Mama Badgers” (originally written for The Voice of The North Jazz Orchestra) while guest pianist Zoe Rahman’s “Red Squirrel” gets a reworking from its original piano trio version into a full-scale big band arrangement by NYJO Artistic & Music Director Mark Armstrong.
Since 2010 NYJO has commissioned new music from leading UK jazz composers. Some of this was featured on their 2012 release The Change and this time includes “Wintermute” by Kit Downes, “No Man Is An Island” by Laura Jurd and “Sub Hub Hubbub” by Jason Yarde. As usual, there is music written and arranged by current or recent band members – Laura Jurd has a foot in both camps as an alumna too; additionally Callum Au, Chris Whiter, Nick Dewhurst, Tom Walsh and Owen Dawson are spotlighted as current writers and arrangers for the band. The album also remembers the great Stan Tracey in ex-NYJO pianist Steve Melling’s arrangement of “Ballad for Loos”, taken from Stan’s final release The Flying Pig.
There is a substantial legacy of compositions that have been generated by the band over the 50 years of its existence and two “instrumental battles” are chosen in the spirit of the traditional big band sound to do this: Matt Wates’s “Never The Twain” pits the alto saxophones against each other and Chris Smith’s “Going Dutch” takes us into the heavyweight category with the tenors. Additionally Josh Daniel’s groove-inspired take on “A Foggy Day” gives Sam Glaser further space to stretch. “St Louis Blues” is a reduction of a double big- band arrangement written for NYJO’s collaboration with the German BuJazzO in autumn 2014. NYJO’s vocalist Jessica Radcliffe is featured on “No Man Is An Island” in a setting of the John Donne poem. She also sings arrangements by Mark Armstrong and Callum Au,and an original song by founder Bill Ashton OBE, newly arranged by Paul Hart — one of many written by Bill for the band over the years. This recording is a reflection of what NYJO has done, what it will continue to do, and where it may go in the future.