DYJO visit to the Royal Marines at Lympstone

On Monday, some of our DYJO players took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to spend a day with the Big Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines CTCRM at Lympstone. It was the idea of Corporal Joe Rowlands, now a member of the band, and a past pupil of mine who helped DYJO out in the past when we’ve been short of trombones!

The day started with the Marines’ big band under the expert direction of Colour Sergeant Nick West playing through three varied tunes from the likes of Glenn Miller to Gordon Goodwin. Having whetted our young musicians’ appetites, our players joined them to sight read five more varied tunes, including Count Basie’s ‘All Of Me’ and the very funky ‘John Brown’s Other Body’. They were encouraged to recognise and respond to the different styles, especially thinking about the grooves and how to get the right ‘feel’ for each.

After a presentation on possible careers in the Royal Marines Band Service (always a bit of an eye opener for someone thinking about a career in music – visit http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/rmbs for more details), the players split off into sectionals, before coming back together again to play through the five tunes – quite transformed from the earlier readings! They did so well, they even sight read through one of the tunes they had had played to them at the start of the day!

Certainly, a most interesting day – massive thanks to Colour Sergeant Nick West and his swinging band for making it so enjoyable and informative, with the music right at the heart of it all!

Thanks to Musician Kirsty Chatterton – RM Band Service for the excellent photos!

DYJO1 at Offwell

DYJO2 enjoyed beautiful weather last weekend on the Sunday. The forecast for the day before, when DYJO1 were playing at an outdoor event for TRIP Honiton in Offwell had suggested it might be sweltering, but it didn’t quite turn out that way… as Nic Steward writes:

“Outdoor gigs with DYJO have seen us cope with torrential rain and sweltering heat (sometimes on the same day!), but the speed with which Saturday evening turned from beautiful and balmy to brisk and blowy took players and audience by surprise.

Graham did his best to warm things up with references to Monterey, and arc-welding (sorry, Tom!), but the wind kept blowing.

But as ever, our players did us proud, giving two fantastic sets, and being 100% professional in truly challenging conditions. Well done to all of them!

And for those players for whom this was their last “proper” DYJO gig, it was certainly one to remember!”

You can find a great set of photos of the event from Rosie Parsons Photography here, but also keep your eyes peeled for an article on DYJO in Devon Life in the near future!


DYJO2 at Crediton

Well, the weather certainly turned out nice for DYJO2’s gig at Downes, Crediton! The 1st Crediton Scout Group are celebrating their 110th anniversary this year, and they asked DYJO2 to play at their celebration at Downes, Crediton, the one-time home of Sir Redvers Buller, whose famous statue sits outside St David’s Church and Exeter College in Exeter. Anyway, the sun shone, it wasn’t too hot, and lots of people came along to celebrate, enjoying two great sets from DYJO2.

It’s worth noting that this is the first time this season that DYJO2 had done a whole gig by themselves, and through the 16 tunes they played, there was both tight ensemble work, and piles of great solos from around the band.

It’s not quite the last time they’ll play as a band – that’ll be at the DYJO Leavers’ Concert on Sunday 8 September (details to be confirmed) – but this was a great way to mark the end of the main season for us!





DYJO @ Dart Music Festival 2019

DYJO have been playing at the excellent Dart Music Festival for many years, and it’s always an immense pleasure. Of course, the festival itself is extraordinary – the town is absolutely full of music in every corner, from the Friday night to the Sunday evening, and every stage is free (the £80,000 cost of the festival is covered through voluntary donations and fundraising).

And somehow, Dartmouth, and the lovely Flavel Arts Centre always brings out the best of DYJO to an ever-appreciative audience. And so it was yesterday. DYJO2 opened with a really tight 50-minute set, with so many highlights, both in the ensemble playing and in great solos from around the band. After the interval, DYJO1 pulled out all the stops with a barnstorming set that sent the audience away with their feet tapping and smiles on their faces!

If you are at the Devon County Show next Saturday (16 May 2019), both bands will be appearing in The Parasol from 2.30pm – we hope to see you there!



DYJO & NYJO @ Uffculme

Exciting jazz times in Devon – the Devon Music Education Hub has teamed up with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra for a five-year strategic partnership to promote jazz education in Devon, and tonight marked the first time in that that DYJO and NYJO shared a concert. ur DYJO Ambassdors performed a short but breathtaking set at the start of the concert, including their own, original composition as one of their three tunes – a good-sized audience gave them a great reception. After the interval, NYO performed their new show ‘State of the Nation’ (effectively a round-up of the many facets of British big band jazz at the moment), and wowed the audience with their energy and virtuosity through their vary varied set.

Tomorrow should be equally exciting: NYJO will be joining DYJO at their Gathering Day, taking both bands through their paces under the expert guidance of their leader, Mark Armstrong.



DYJO @ Beverley Park

A joyful night last night, in the ballroom of Beverley Park in Paignton. This biennial gig has been going on since the 1990s at least, when the parent of a DYJO player, who owned Beverley Park at the time, offered the free use of the ballroom to fund-raise for DYJO: it’s been going on ever since, and we are extremely grateful for the continuing tradition, despite the present owners having no direct connection with DYJO! It certainly is a stunning venue for a big band concert, both in appearance, and acoustic.

The DYJO team had made a great effort in making the ballroom look festive, and the bands really rose to the occasion. DYJO2 kicked off the evening with a varied set, tightly played with great enthusiasm, and great solos from around the band. It was lovely for me to get back in front of the band at last after my extended lay-off for illness – it was so much fun, and I hope to return to full form soon, so I don’t miss any more!

The Ambassadors came on stage straight after, and played from memory their own composition – a fascinating piece, with an unsingable but really catchy head for the horns!

Ben Lee, who directs the Ambassadors, returned to the stage after the interval to direct DYJO1 in Graham’s absence, and the whole team did a great job. In fact, Daniel, one of the players, directed the first piece, with great aplomb, with Ben taking over for the rest of the barnstorming set.

And as for the fundraising – despite the bargain ticket price, a very large turnout of family and friends, and enthusiastic purchasing of raffle and treasure hunt tickets, means that a very tidy sum has been raised for our ongoing activities: we’re always looking for opportunities to our players’ learning, and what we can present to public audiences, and keeping our finances in good health will help us do that well into the future!

Thanks to Pik Rawlings for the photos!