The (Devon County) Show must go on!

Each year DYJO looks forward to playing at the Devon County Show, and each year we watch the forecast in the days leading up to it. The omens this year weren’t great, to say the least!

In the end we escaped with only a minor drenching (having been forecast strong winds and heavy rain earlier in the week). A hardy audience braved the elements to hear energetic sets from both DYJO2 and DYJO1.

Perhaps next year the sun will shine on us…

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National Youth Jazz Collective success!

It’s with enormous delight that we can announce that no less than five members of DYJO have been successful in their auditions for the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School!

NYJC has been at the forefront of small band jazz education for several years under the dynamic leadership of Issie Barratt. In past years a number of our players been selected for the intensive summer school: Ben Lee, Stephanie Wills, Raddon Stephenson and Matt Carter have all benefited from the superbly structured courses.

With only a limited number of places available nationally for the courses (there’s a full course and a slightly shorter one), we are immensely proud of our young players, and delighted that five have managed to get through in the same year.

Last year drummer Kai did the short course and found it an amazing experience. He returns this year on the full course, and will be joined on the courses by trombonists Joe and Will, alto saxophonist Jonathan, and Harry on piano. Good luck to them all – I’ll bring you updates in August, when they will be going on their learning adventure to Rutland!

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Gigs and exams…

May is that time of year when the season of music festivals really starts in earnest… and also the season of public exams for people at school. Of course, in DYJO we have a significant proportion of our players in these vital years at school, so it’s a delicate balance between music and school work for all of them. We don’t want to miss any high quality gig opportunities, but equally the players know that the academic pressure is on and they can only afford so much time out.

One gig we certainly would not want to miss is our traditional appearance at the fabulous Dart Music Festival. Our concerts at The Flavel are always to a capacity audience, many of whom come from far and wide. It is also a delightful space to play in, and brings out the best in the bands.

This year, in a slight change to tradition, we performed on the Sunday afternoon instead of the evening, and certainly from our point of view worked well, as players knew they could go home and spend time revising before the next day’s exams. It is notable that I think we have a disproportionately high number of high achievers in DYJO, and I put some of this down that we attract people who not only have to be good at prioritising and managing their time, but that they also recognise that music actually nourishes their brains, working different mental muscles from those that academic studies exercise.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: yet again the bands excelled themselves in two wide-ranging sets, from the quirky bass feature for James Harris in DYJO2’s The Shortest Dissonance Between Two Points and a swingy Time After Time from Alexandra Pavic, to DYJO1’s thrilling West Side Story and groovy Samba del Gringo.

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The Ambassadors entertain…

The Ambassadors have multiple roles within DYJO: not only are they trained to deliver introductory practical jazz sessions at Devon schools, but they are also trained by Roz Harding to be a fully functioning small band, capable of delivering top-flight jazz. The education of the players chosen as Ambassadors is thus necessarily widened to develop these skills. And they demonstrate those skills with great aplomb!

Tonight they had been commissioned to play during pre-dinner drinks at the classy Bovey Castle, for the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT). They played a varied set, and were given a very nice vote of thanks and round of applause, before we all headed home for rather more humble dining.

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