BYMT JAZZ SCHOOL
at Bromley Youth Music Trust (aka Bromley Music Hub)
In January 2017 Lora Dimitrova approached me about setting up a brand new Jazz School at BYMT (one of the UK's largest and most successful music hubs) and we set about creating some improvisation classes for the children who were studying music and playing in the various bands and orchestras at the music centre. It quickly grew into our two regular improvisation groups, the "Blue Note" group for younger and less experienced improvisers and the "Birdland" group for older and more experienced improvisers. We then took on our assistant tutor Joe Boyle, a jazz graduate from the University of Middlesex and a specialist in double bass and guitar. In November 2017, and still not a year old, we won the prestigious Will Michael Award and honorary diploma for Jazz Education. A national award recognising “outstanding commitment to jazz education” and “acknowledging the work of those field practitioners who are actually delivering jazz education and in many cases helping to combat the widespread jazz phobia among classroom music teachers and instrumental tutors.”
In the spring of 2018 we ran our first (now annual) "Jazz Day" with an afternoon of masterclasses and evening performance featuring ARQ (The Alison Rayner Quintet) who won the Parliamentary Award for "Best UK Jazz Ensemble 2018". It was a great success and included over 40 children learning to improvise and performing on stage alongside the band.
In the autumn of 2018 we started an outreach programme with me visiting various local primary and secondary schools and offering "An Introduction to Improvising" workshops to all instrumentalists. I also published another interactive digital book (available worldwide on Apple iBooks Store) which includes all of the material from these workshops, enabling any music teacher to use the same material and methods to teach improvisation in their lessons. I also started a series of Jazz Appreciation lectures aimed at musicians and non-musicians where we study some seminal recordings by some of the great jazz artists that have proved to be pivotal works in the overall development and evolution of jazz. We put them in to context by looking at the developments in the artists career leading up to the recordings and also analyse the music and what made it so ground breaking.
From January 2019 we expanded further and began running our two jazz improvisation groups on a weekly basis every Thursday night. We also welcomed to our teaching roster one of the UK's finest jazz saxophonists and a highly experienced and dedicated educator Steve Buckley (a founder member of the multiple award winning UK jazz super group Loose Tubes). I started some CPD sessions at BYMT for any music teachers who want to introduce improvisation in to their lessons and share some of my techniques and concepts that I have developed over the years and published in my series of Apple iBooks "How To Learn To Improvise".
In the summer of 2019 we finished up the year with another highly successful Jazz Day with many students taking part in an afternoon open workshop and evening concert, to a packed concert hall.
In November 2019 both of our student groups performed at The Royal Festival Hall as part of the
EFG London Jazz Festival.
Autumn Term 2021 project
"Big Chief" as recorded by the Dirty Dozen brass band from New Orleans
Jazz School Spring 2021 Lockdown project
Charles Mingus - Moanin'
BYMT Jazz School student bands featured at
The EFG London Jazz Festival (Nov 2019)
Jazz School Past Repertoire
Whoza Mtwana from Dollar Brand at Montreux by Abdullah Ibrahim
Do Do Do from 74 Miles Away by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
Tough Talk from The 2nd Crusade by The Crusaders
Work Song from Work Song by Nat Adderley
Honeysuckle Rose from Satch Plays Fats by Fats Waller
Boogie Stop Shuffle from Ah Um by Charles Mingus
Sonnymoon For Two from The Best of Sonny Rollins
Autumn Leaves from Somethin' Else by Cannonball Adderley
Blue Monk from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk
Mack The Knife from Record Flight by Heads South
St Thomas from Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins
Freddie Freeloader from Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Afro Blue from The Very Best of Latin Jazz by Mongo Santamaria
Canteloupe Island from Empyrean Isles by Herbie Hancock
Little Sunflower from Backlash by Freddie Hubbard
Centerpiece from Live in Bern by Scott Hamilton
Sister Sadie from Blowin' the Blues Away by Horace Silver