The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) is a British jazz orchestra founded in 1965 by Bill Ashton. In 2010 Mark Armstrong took over as Music Director of the flagship performing band, and Artistic Director of the organisation; Bill Ashton became Life President, & Nigel Tully became Executive Chair.
Based in Westminster, London, NYJO started life as the London Schools' Jazz Orchestra and evolved into becoming the national orchestra. Its aims are to provide an opportunity for gifted young musicians from around the UK to perform big band jazz in major concert halls, theatres, and on radio and television, and to make recordings, commission new works from British composers and arrangers, and to introduce a love of jazz to as wide an audience as possible, but especially to schoolchildren.
The performing band, NYJO, is selected by audition and invitation, and has a maximum age of 25. It performs around 40 gigs a year across the UK, the vast majority involving additional inspirational educational workshops for local schoolchildren, in partnership with the local Music Hub. It rehearses every Saturday at the The London Centre of Contemporary Music, near London Bridge, London.
In 2011, a new band, NYJO London, was created to focus on developing school aged jazz musicians in greater London. In 2013 NYJO's London training and education activities were brought together under the banner of the NYJO Academy, which now includes the NYJO Academy Big Band, the NYJO Academy Jazz Ensemble, NYJO London, and the NYJO Academy Vocal Class. A small charge (£5 per session) is made for attendance.
In April 2015 NYJO will become an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), in recognition of its unique role as an excellent youth arts institution and its ability to inspire young people to like and enjoy jazz.
NYJO's extensive discography, of over 40 recordings, includes a tribute to British jazz pianist, big band leader and arranger, Harry South.
NYJO's members have included many of the major names in British jazz over the last three decades, including Julian Argüelles, Guy Barker, Chris Biscoe, Richard James Burgess, Paul Edmonds, Steve Hill, Nigel Hitchcock, Carol Kenyon, Dave O'Higgins, Simon Phillips, Gerard Presencer, Brian Priestley, Frank Ricotti, Jamie Talbot, Dave Watts, Tom Cawley, Gareth Lockrane, Chris White, Amy Winehouse,Bobby Worth and Neil Yates.
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