This ensemble is completely unique: in the summer of 2018, the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City first brings together twentytwo outstanding young jazz musicians aged 16 to 19 from all over the USA to form NYO Jazz, America’s national jazz youth orchestra. An intense two-week rehearsal phase will be followed by its debut concert at Carnegie Hall as well as an extended European tour, which also brings the ensemble to Young Euro Classic in Berlin. The jazz trumpet player Sean Jones, equally renowned as a soloist, composer and pedagogue, leads NYO Jazz through its first season in 2018. After the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) and NYO2, another offshoot of NYO-USA, NYO Jazz is the third ensemble founded by Carnegie Hall in recent years in order to give young, highly talented musicians intense encouragement and support on their way to professional careers or other life pursuits in music.
The former general director of Deutschlandradio (2009-2017) has an unusually intriguing biography: after studies in England and France and earning a PhD in ethnology, Steul spent almost 5 years studying blood vengeance in Afghanistan during the 1970s, teaching intermittently at the University of Kabul before turning to journalism for good. He reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan, from Beirut, Greece, Turkey and from the Gulf War in 1991 as an ARD correspondent. In 1994 he joined Deutschlandradio in Berlin as an editor in chief. In 1998 he became associate general director of the SWR and director for Baden-Württemberg; in 2009 he returned to Deutschlandradio as its general director. Dr. Willi Steul was awarded the German Cross of Merit and is a Commandeur of the French Ordre national du Mérite. He is one of the co-founders of Young Euro Classic and has been chairman of the Circle of Friends of European Youth Orchestras e.V., which has presented the festival since the year 2000.
Music and spirituality have always overlapped in the artistic vision of the trumpet player, composer, pedagogue and activist Sean Jones. Born in 1978 in Warren, Ohio, it was Miles Davis who inspired him to switch from percussion to trumpet. Only when he was 19 and already a classically trained trumpet player did he start turning increasingly to jazz. A six-month stint with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York brought him an encounter with Wynton Marsalis, who offered Jones the position of lead trumpeter in his orchestra. Ever since, he has performed with his own ensembles, but also with great jazz personalities such as Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves and Marcus Miller. Together with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, he played a “Tribute to Miles” tour in 2011. A versatile and experienced teacher as well, Jones has recently been appointed to the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. His most recent albums are im*pro*vise: never before seen (2014) and Live From Jazz At The Bistro (2017).
A winner of five Grammy Awards, Dianne Reeves is one of the world’s most prominent jazz singers. Her most recent awards came in 2006 for the soundtrack to George Clooney’s film Good Night, and Good Luck and in 2015 for her solo album Beautiful Life. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1956, Dianne Reeves grew up in Denver, Colorado. Her talent was discovered during a competition for high school big bands; her breakthrough came when Harry Belafonte made her a lead singer for his tours in 1983. Ever since, the vocalist has performed with doyens of jazz such as Wynton Marsalis, has toured with her own performance Sing the Truth!, but has also worked with classical ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle. Since her debut album in 1977 Dianne Reeves has produced more than 20 records, including Quiet After the Storm (1994), In the Moment: Live in Concert (2000) and A Little Moonlight (2004). In 2018, the National Endowment for the Arts will designate her a Jazz Master—the highest honour the United States bestows on jazz artists.
The latest offspring of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, an initiative of New York’s Carnegie Hall, undertakes a European tour in the first year of its existence and brings the sound of American Big Bands to the Concertohaus. Works range from classics by Duke Ellington and Count Basie to a German premiere by the award-winning composer Miguel Zenón.
The concert is available ON DEMAND on ARTE CONCERT until September 8, 2018: www.arte.tv/de/videos/084152-001-A/national-youth-orchestra-jazz/