NYJO's Christmas cheer

Derek Ansell reviews NYJO's Christmas Carol In Six Movements CD, sporting a strong score by NYJO veteran Paul Hart in one of "the band's best live performances for some time".

We also preview NYJO's Christmas lunches through December at the Hideaway in Streatham, London SW16


UPDATE: NYJO are Seb Coe's choice of live music when he guest presents BBC R4's Today programme on Boxing Day and they play Julian Joseph's music at Ronnie Scott's 2-4 January 2012



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NATIONAL YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA
A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN SIX MOVEMENTS

CD1: (1) Reading 1: Bah Humbug; Reading 2: Ghost Of Marley; Reading 3; We Three Spooks; Reading 4: Long forgotten; Reading 5: Tiny Tim; Reading 6; God Bless Us Everyone (53.08)
CD2: (1) Bah Humbug; Ghost Of Marley; We Three Spooks; Long Forgotten; Tiny Tim; God Bless Us Everyone (2) The Twelve Bars Of Christmas (52.23)

(1) Thomas Walsh, Robert Greenwood, Rueben Fowler, Mark Perry, Henry Armburg-Jennings (t); Callum Aur, Robert Harvey, Ross Anderson, Mathew Walton, Ross Brennan (tb); Helen Wilson (f); Edward Barker (as); Lucas Dodd (ss); Richard Shepherd (ts, ss); Thomas Stone (ts, ss); Ben Mallinder (bar); Anna Drysdale (frh); Jonathan Russell (elg); Christopher Eldred (p); Sandy Suchadolski (b); Scott Chapman (d); James Larter (vib, pc). Ronnie Scott's Club, London, 8 January 2010.
(2) NYJO at Scott's in 1993 with the then current line-up including soloists Lisa Grahame (as); Adrian Revell, Scott Garland (ts); Howard McGill (as); Julian Siegel (bar).
STOB 002

Paul HartHere's a seasonal disc, or two, to help digest the turkey, mince pies and brandy. Recorded in 2009, the only surprise is that it hasn't surfaced earlier, like three months ago, to build up for the Christmas market.

Paul Hart (right) has written a strong score, commissioned by Bill Ashton, with six lively movements to let the boys and girls of NYJO loose on. And they respond vigorously from the start. Bah Humbug features the sort of swinging, precision blowing we have become accustomed to with this orchestra and there is a gem of a flute solo from Helen Wilson which just floats out airily from the ensemble.

The music is interspersed with readings from Dickens's A Christmas Carol read by actor James Smoker. The Ghost Of Marley is played with a reggae arrangement as Hart's sense of humour stretches to equate Jacob with Bob Marley! The orchestra play it straight with Jon Russell the main soloist on guitar.

After a further reading about the ghosts we hear We Three Spooks, another light but compulsive swinger, based on We Three Kings of Orient Are. Chris Eldred shines here on piano and there are sterling solo spots from Tom Stone on tenor and a swirling drum roundup by Scott Chapman.

Tiny Tim is a highlight of the set, with Ben Mallinder's crusty baritone setting the stage for some crisp, precision blowing and a lively exchange between Armburg-Jennings on trumpet and James Larter's vibes. Almost matching it is the upbeat finale, God Bless Us, with contributions from singers Emma Smith and Kwabena Adjepong along with searing alto from Ed Barker and the band whooping it up.

Hart's lively scoring and the careful rehearsal by NYJO musical director Mark Armstrong produced one of NYJO's best live performances for some considerable time judging by the music heard on this disc.

Somewhat extravagantly perhaps, even if compact discs are cheap enough, the producers have provided a second CD with just the music for those who want to avoid the narration and have added a bonus track on this one with the 1993 NYJO orchestra. The music should keep the "bah humbugs" at bay this year and perhaps even encourage a Season of Goodwill. Well, I can be optimistic can't I ?

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NYJO also bring live Christmas cheer to the Hideaway club in Streatham, south London in December, playing for Christmas lunches on 9 and 13-16 December.

The club says: "Join us for an afternoon of Christmas cheer and festive frivolity at your favourite live music venue! This year our sumptuous Christmas lunches will be accompanied by the hottest young musical talent in the UK - the National Youth Jazz Orchestra - whose phenomenal record in finding stars includes one truly unforgettable singer by the name of Amy Winehouse."

The ticket price includes two sets of live jazz to accompany a three course meal. Tickets £25, Doors 12pm, lunch served between 12.30pm and 3pm, Music 1.30pm (2 sets, approx finish 4pm).

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