Live reviews

REPORT/ PHOTOS: Three Nations Under One Groove (NYJO + BuJazzO + NJJO) in Bury St Edmunds

The Three Orchestras Onstage
Apex Theatre, Bury St Edmunds
Photo by Matt Pannell
Having toured Germany and the Netherlands with their German and Dutch counterparts in 2018, last week saw the National Youth Jazz Orchestra hosting the return visit, bringing both the Nationaal Jeugd Jazz Orkest of Holland and the BundesJazzorchester of Germany together with them for a UK tour, in which the three orchestras were combined. The first performance, under the Three Nations Under One Groove banner, took place at the Apex Theatre in Bury St Edmunds. Matt Pannell reports:

L-R: Jessie Breve , Loek van den Berg and Paul van de Calsijde of NJJO Photo by Matt Pannell
If the three organisations had been through a nail-biting few months, fretting about the logistics of an international jazz extravaganza to take place six days after the UK Government’s proposed ‘Brexit Day’, there wasn’t much anxiety to be detected on the stage. NYJO, directed by Mark Armstrong, slapped down the gauntlet with Gareth Lockrane’s roasty Groove Rider, ahead of a short but hard-swinging set each from the Nationaal Jeugd Jazz Orkest of Holland and the BundesJazzorchester of Germany, directed by Johan Plomp and Jiggs Whigham respectively.

Tim Hennekes (Drums, NJJO)
Photo by Matt Pannell
The players’ brightly-coloured T-shirts – royal blue, Ajax orange and a very serious dark grey, naturally – blended after the break as three “mixed bands” emerged, the 59 players having been grouped without regard for nationality. Mixed-up T-shirt colours were a reminder that while jazz-people are good at friendly rivalry, their instinct for collaboration is even stronger.

One by one, these new ensembles – they’d only had the previous day to meet and rehearse – showed their mettle by tackling old and new charts with thumping commitment. Compositions by Johan Plomp were edgy and avant-garde, while NYJO saxophonist Tom Ridout’s beautiful For the Road and Those On It was handled with all the skill and sensitivity it deserved. Of course, the three groups merged for a deafening encore, brass players spilling along the side walls of the theatre to give the locals a close-up blasting, but it was the three international scratch bands that left the deepest impression of what, given the chance to collaborate, these outstanding European musicians can do.

Kira Lin of BuJazzO
Photo by Matt Pannell
LINK: Matt Pannell’s full archive of photos – He should be credited if any of these photos are reproduced.

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1 reply »

  1. I can confirm that the 2 subsequent gigs in Blackheath and Corby were rip-roaring successes too, with considerably varied repertoire on both nights and a nicely mixed young-and-old audience. The 400 seat Cube theatre in Corby is a lovely venue with a brilliant acoustic and deserves to be a regular highlight location on the jazz circuit.

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