And now: the new DYJO Ambassadors!

Our DYJO Ambassadors are a vital part of our set-up – not only do they extend their jazz skills in the setting of a small-band ensemble (no written-out charts, and even greater emphasis on aural and soloing skills), but, as the name implies, they are the group which takes the word about jazz out into the wider educational community.

Later in the season the focus will be on this ‘outreach’ into Devon schools, but Sunday’s first session was all about gelling as a band, and learning some great jazz under the expert guidance of DYJO alumnus (and guitarist) Ben Lee. I couldn’t be there this time to see the fun, but Nic and Maria were!

From Nic:

The new season’s Ambassadors got off to a great start at today’s first rehearsal. After warming up with some work on chords and modes (all helpfully written down on a piece of paper several metres long!), the group went on to rehearse standards such as Scrapple from the Apple, alongside a brand new piece composed by Harry.

But perhaps the most fun was had just after lunch, when Ben used drinking straws and scissors to demonstrate how altering the length of a pipe can change the pitch of the note produced. Although the Ambassadors are some of our older players, their reaction to Ben’s demonstration wasn’t very different from how their audiences in Devon’s Primary Schools might be expected to respond!

Photos from Maria


Teignmouth 2017 – done!

So, tonight was the night: the first public gig of the two new DYJO bands, at the ever-splendid Teignmouth Jazz Festival. Each year the festival treats us to a wonderful guest soloist, and tonight Dave O’Higgins was as superb to play with as he was the last time, several years ago in the old Carlton Theatre. He makes his tenor sax take on so many different characters, at once caressing our ears with a wonderfully inventive Willow Weep for Me (with DYJO2) or amazing us with his creativity with charts such as Sweet Georgia Brown (with DYJO1).

Of course, the other stars of the evening are the two bands: a DYJO1 augmented by new players moving up from last year’s DYJO2, and a DYJO2 roughly half of which are new members this year. Both bands excelled themselves in front of a packed house, and with a programme ranging from Basie to Don Ellis and beyond, I don’t think anyone will be doubting that it’s going to be another great season for DYJO, and for youth jazz in Devon: the future’s looking bright!

And of course, our thanks to Dave, the Pavilion Theatre, and Teignmouth Jazz Festival for making this all possible. If you’re reading this while the weekend is still going (17-19 November), you might like to pop down and catch some more jazz. If you’re too late for this year, see you in 2018!