Last night’s Sligo Jazz main event featured the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland – approximately 20 15-21 yr-olds playing big-band arrangements of tunes from a variety of styles. They were under the directorship of SJP head piano tutor Malcolm Edmonstone and it was lovely to see the way the young musicians responded to him.
They were obviously having a great time. On tour, with your mates, playing great music – what’s not to love for someone that age.
But the culture of the band stood out for me.
When one player stood up to take a solo, the player beside them fixed the microphone to face the soloist’s instrument so that the soloist would be heard clearly out front.
Rhythm section players regularly switched instruments – changing in the middle of a tune sometimes to get the optimal line-up for whatever was best for the music.
The afore-mentioned Malcolm shared piano and keyboard duties with me on a theme night during Sligo Jazz a couple of years ago. Any time he had just been on the piano and I was coming on next, he made sure to have my chart spread out and ready for me to play.
It’s the little things, but they go a long way.
Finally, the last set of tunes in the first half was dedicated to a man called Rick Taylor. I had never heard of the man, but both on stage and then afterwards people got emotional talking about him. He sounded like an amazing man and musician, but to a man – the tributes I heard mentioned his greatest strength – his ability to find the weakest players wherever he was teaching, and write music for them which suited their strengths, giving them confidence and helping them to find the joy in their instrument.
What a legacy that is.