We’re getting very excited now because eight ensembles from across the UK will perform at the finals of the 2012 Yamaha Jazz Experience competition at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, from 1pm on 7 May, in front of the festival audience and top UK jazz judges.
The opportunity for our young finalists to be featured at one of Europe’s leading jazz festivals, rubbing shoulders with British and international jazz artists, is both inspiring and a great source of learning for them. The judging panel was commissioned with the task of selecting three winning ensembles, one from each of the three age categories, to receive prizes including Yamaha vouchers and exciting gigs at three internationally acclaimed London jazz clubs, provided generously by our venue partners Ronnie Scott’s, the 606 Club and the Bull’s Head jazz club in south-west London. The details of the three winners at will be posted in the news section at www.yamahamusiceducation.co.uk.
The judging panel for the finals includes Peter Ind (jazz double bassist and chair of judges), Julian Joseph (international jazz pianist, composer and broadcaster), Issie Barrett (jazz educator, artistic director of National Youth Jazz Collective) and Gwilym Simcock (international jazz pianist, composer and leading Yamaha artist).
The competition was open to 11-18s and ensembles of up to eight musicians each submitted performances of two jazz pieces on video, which were then scrutinised by Simon Purcell (head of jazz at Trinity College of Music), Helen Mayhew (award-winning presenter of Jazz FM) and myself, who then selected eight finalists:
11 and under 15: Dis-Illusioned Band (Parrs Wood School, Manchester); Trinity Nu Jazz Collective (Trinity CE School, Manchester); Pimlico Junior Jazz Band (Pimlico Academy, London).
11 and under17:
Dumfries Youth Jazz Group (Dumfries Academy); Pimlico Academy Jazz Band (Pimlico Academy, London).
11 and under 19:
FYJO Septet (Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra, Fife); Tomorrow's Warriors (tomorrow’s Warriors,
The Yamaha Jazz Experience competition is part of Yamaha UK’s broader long-term support for British jazz, which also includes our Jazz Scholarship programme, provided each year to the heads of jazz at the UK’s leading conservatoires. Our goal there is to support the most gifted and talented young jazz students to complete their full-time education and step off into hopefully spectacular music careers. (More information available from:
The Jazz Experience programme is targeted at 11-18s and their teachers with the aim of increasing access and involvement in improvising. Our workshop tour helps boost teachers’ own skills and confidence in tackling improvising with their youngster, and then the national Jazz Experience competition provides a focus for the young people themselves to work on improvising in ensembles, in a way which is usually impractical in big bands.
The 2012 competition winners’ London gigs will be scheduled for Autumn 2012 and dates will be confirmed in due course. We strongly advise anyone coaching a jazz ensemble to attend one of these events with their pupils, as the whole experience of performing at venues of this calibre is a very exciting and motivating one.
PHOTO: Blue Shift, under-15 winner of the 2010 Yamaha Jazz Experience competition, performed at the 606 Club as part of their prize
Bill C Martin, music education manager, Yamaha Music Europe GmbH (UK)