It was decided that we would celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Doncaster Youth Jazz Association by recording a new CD. We would mark this milestone year by returning to London to record with our current senior band. Lansdowne Studio was booked and several of our London-based former members promised to pop in to see us whilst we were in town.
In selecting and finalising this programme, we have aimed for a variety of styles in the hope that big band enthusiasts will find something to their taste i.e. Swing, Bebop, Blues, Jazz samba, Rock fusion, Ballad, Funk and Bossa. Also, we have specifically chosen to perform the works of several highly respected jazz orchestral writers. Notably, Bob Florence, Matt Catingub, Sammy Nestico, Gordon Goodwin, Bob Mintzer, Anthony Adams, Tom Dossett and of course, Leonard Bernstein. We also have superb arrangements from Andy Vinter, Martin Williams and Tom Kubis who gave ‘new life and meaning’ to three great standard tunes.
The scene was set for another special ‘DJO Reunion’ weekend.
Our regular Thursday evening rehearsals were intensive though enjoyable sessions. The pieces selected for recording were not easy, so in-depth rehearsals and a high level of commitment became vital to the overall success of the project. The current Doncaster Jazz Orchestra members (average age 19 years) settled well to the task. I was particularly impressed by their approach to the more challenging pieces and the enthusiasm with which they organised their own, additional, section rehearsals.
In the studio, the predominant mood was one of focused determination and a strong will to succeed in a relatively short period of time. This was a testing programme of big band charts, so the DJO regulars realised that they had to pace themselves carefully, but also to be ready to play out of their skins when required. Team spirit has always been the key to a satisfying DJO performance over the years and this was much in evidence throughout this high-pressure recording session.
Some of our professional ex-members, who are working musicians in and around London, dropped into the studio between their respective shows, concerts and matinées. On invitation from myself or section leaders, they would ‘sit in’ on whatever piece we were recording at the time. As you will hear, several were cajoled into soloing with the orchestra and occasionally they ‘traded’ solos with their younger counterparts. When not actually performing, these alumni members could be seen encouraging and supporting the younger players. I cannot thank these young professionals enough for giving so freely of their time and expertise. They continue to support this Association in practical ways and keep in touch, despite the fact that they are some of the most sought-after and busy musicians in the country. By maintaining such high performance standards, they remain a constant source of inspiration for our students.
You are invited to ‘discover the spirit’ of a special group of people, DJO musicians past and present, of whom I am very proud. I hope that you enjoy the music and share our pride in this 30th anniversary project.
Thank you for listening,
John Ellis MBE
Celebrating 30 years of Jazz Education in Doncaster
1973 – 2003