National Youth Jazz Orchestra

Thu 14 July 2022

Basie & Beyond

Basie & Beyond

The NYJO 18-piece ensemble performs classic works led by their Artistic Director, Mark Armstrong.

Since roaring from the American imagination over a hundred years ago, jazz has been thrilling audiences across the world. William James Basie is an icon. His impact on the jazz canon cannot be overstated. He formed the Count Basie Orchestra in 1935 and led the ensemble for over 50 years. As jazz transitioned from the dance floor to the concert platform, Basie kept the spirit of swing alive, transforming the music for the atomic era, but keeping true to the soul of its roots.

This programme explores the impact on popular music made by Basie and the twentieth-century Black American artists that followed: Frank Foster, Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron, Oliver Nelson, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones. To their lives and struggle we owe an unpayable debt.

I have been in love with swing since playing Splanky for the first time as a teenage trumpet player. As I have explored this music I have drawn constant inspiration from the combination of a great groove and the variety of colours that skilled writers create, from raw excitement to subtle, expressive textures. To work out how to take the music forward we need to celebrate its past, acknowledging that although we may not have had the experiences and background of the musicians who created it, we can learn something of this through their music and demonstrate its importance and vitality to a modern audience. This is especially true when it’s performed by musicians of the same kind of age as the members of these bands were back in the day. I hope you enjoy listening to this music as much as the band enjoy playing it!’ – Mark Armstrong


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