National Youth Jazz Orchestra
DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Playhouse
After several decades of reviewing this fine ensemble I think I probably witnessed last night some of its finest moments.
I have grown used to great arrangements and soloists who belie their tender years. But the second half of this concert produced writing, arranging and playing of a standard that simply took one's breath away.
Paul Hart's mini suite Out of Hamelin was set around readings from the famous Pied Piper poem by Helen Ashton, daughter of NYJO director Bill Ashton. Led, suitably, on flute and piccolo by Neils Rosendahl, the orchestra took on Hart's fabulous arrangements and won by a street. NYJO has always responded to material of this kind and last night was no exception. It simply brought out their best.
Earlier we had enjoyed a varied first half, in which the highlights were tenor saxist Richard Shepherd's interpretation of Body and Soul; the remarkably mature voice of Atila Huseyin; and Mark Armstrong's Independence Day - a tribute to his famous namesake Louis.
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And a considerable Norwich contingent didn't let us down, either. Freddie Gavita (trumpet), Lewis Wright (vibes and percussion) and Paul Gregory (drums) did the old county proud.
As usual, I left feeling that the future of British jazz is safe.