National Youth Jazz Orchestra: The Change

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ALBUM TITLE: National Youth Jazz Orchestra: The Change
WORKS: The Change
PERFORMER: NYJO/Mark Armstrong (trumpet), Tim Garland (sax), Mark Mondesir (drums)


Grin your way past the cheeky retro Columbia-esque cover design and ‘The Change’ is indeed apparent. Alongside its new partnership with the funding and advisory body Jazz Services, Britain’s flagship youth jazz outfit – the National Youth Jazz Orchestra – is undergoing an artistic renaissance. Founder Bill Ashton has passed the band-leading baton to Mark Armstrong and the repertoire, which tended to be mired in the test-card-music end of the mainstream, is broadening in interesting ways.

This disc garnishes some fine pieces by Tim Garland, Nikki Iles, Julian Joseph and various band members with just the right number of artfully arranged standards to keep the faith with traditionalists. While the 2012 Proms debutants’ existing devotees needn’t fear that the band will turn into a Sun Ra-style Arkestra, anyone who found its set-lists too conservative will be pleasantly surprised by this expertly recorded disc.


Roger Thomas