National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Norwich

DAVID WAKEFIELD A performance by NYJO in the current popular musical climate comes almost as a sigh of relief. Here, at last, is an air of sanity where demands are on ability, full stop.

DAVID WAKEFIELD

A performance by NYJO in the current popular musical climate comes almost as a sigh of relief. Here, at last, is an air of sanity when demands are not so much on a pretty face, a stick-thin figure, and an ability to indulge in strange dance routines; but, quite simply, on ability, full stop. A taste of the real musical world, perhaps?

To be able to sing and play an instrument to the standards set over the years, not only by long-standing musical director Bill Ashton, but of previous denizens of the band chairs, is a welcome sign that all is well with the musical youth of 2002.

One sensed that here was NYJO in a state of transition. Many of the familiar faces have gone; but there is a steady stream of talent waiting, and wanting, to play big-band jazz to Ashton's exacting demands, and it includes, I am delighted to record, a continuation of a Norfolk element that has generally been present in NYJO. Just as percussionist Hugh Wilkinson bade farewell, in for his second concert came tenor saxophonist Sam Crockatt, who showed great promise of what may well come in a thoughtful and considered solo rendition of Carin's Song.

Other highlights: alto sax man Phil Knights' complex Steel Carbon; the wonderful flute playing of Rupert Widdows on Paul Hart's tour de force Remembrance; and a romping finale on Cole Porter's Love For Sale. Who says NYJO doesn't play standards?

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