The Beckett Road Sessions

The Beckett Road Sessions

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The Doncaster Youth Swing Orchestra

The Swing Orchestra is the second tier of the four Association ensembles. At this level, young musicians find themselves exploring the popular and exhilarating charts of the 'Swing Era', alongside the more complex harmonic and rhythmic styles of the modern day Big Band. Playing members are encouraged to further enhance their individual soloing skills through exposure to improvisation within the swing band format.

The Doncaster Youth Swing Orchestra at their recording session for The Becket Road Sessions

Interest in this idiom is such that the usual Swing Orchestra 'squad' in rehearsals is large and enthusiastic. However, the band size is occasionally restricted to the standard line-up for concerts, in order to ensure a controlled musical balance and blend, especially when accompanying vocalists. Young vocalists are encouraged to discover and perform big band 'standards' with this band. Singing with a large Swing Orchestra can be an exhilarating or intimidating experience, depending on the individual singer's approach and the sensitivity of the backing ensemble. Eighteen year old Anya Thomson is the featured soloist on this album.

In March 2006, the Orchestra received the Outstanding Performance Award (Youth Section) at the Great North Big Band Festival in Sunderland - for the third successive year. The Doncaster Youth Swing Orchestra enjoys its own identity as a driving modern Big Band. With the accent on 'swing', both modern and traditional, this dedicated group of musicians always endeavour to interpret the music as authentically as possible. Their varied Big Band repertoire has delighted audiences on several tours abroad and throughout the north of England.

The Doncaster Youth Stageband

The Doncaster Youth Stageband at their recording session for The Becket Road Sessions

The Stageband is the junior and largest of the four graded Association ensembles. On joining this Band Training class, the young players are introduced to a wide variety of jazz styles via carefully selected graded orchestrations. Much thought is given to providing a well-rounded and attractive programme through a process of section and individual tuition, music listening and full band rehearsals.

The nature of the music is such that many instrumentalists are given the opportunity to develop and enhance their individual skills as soloists, in addition to their section responsibilities. Stageband members usually develop a strong sense of individuality, independence and responsibility which is carried through to their membership in other ensembles. Those who participate in a jazz orchestral programme such as this gain strong reinforcement in the areas of sight-reading, rhythmic understanding, intonation, leadership through part independence, balance and blend. These attributes benefit other areas of instrumental music making and indeed other curriculum subject areas.

Doncaster Youth Stageband members give public performances and they enjoy an enthusiastic following throughout the Doncaster region.


The Stageband and the Swing Orchestra were recorded over 5 sessions here at the Centre. We sincerely thank Keith Angel (Wavelength Arts) for his recording expertise and active support.

Throughout the past 5 years, Centre-based improvisation workshops, classes and individual lessons have been a successful addition to the weekly full ensemble rehearsals. These sessions are directed by DYJA teaching staff in school holidays and on selected weekends. It is indeed gratifying to now witness the progress of so many of our younger members as they discover a greater understanding of the 'jazz language'. Our thanks in appreciation to the Jazz Improv team of Mark Ellis, Simon Nixon and Dennis Rollins.

Doncaster Youth Jazz Association

It is the spirit of community and working as a team which embodies the Association's main aim in promoting jazz education. Brought together through music, young people learn the key qualities of dedication, responsibility and caring in an atmosphere of creativity and purpose. Foreign tours and exchanges have always been considered an important element in the development of our students.

The orchestras have toured extensively and over time the Association has developed strong links via official youth exchange activities with Herten (Westfalia, Germany) Limonest (Lyon, France) Wilmington (North Carolina, USA) and more recently, Pizzo (Calabria, Italy). To our many friends and active supporters involved in these projects, we extend our heartfelt thanks for your genuine interest and kind hospitality over the years.

Also, we take this opportunity to thank André Gicquel. His vision, enthusiasm and expertise is legendary. For almost 30 years, he has created performance opportunities throughout France for so many of our young musicians.

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity and assistance of the following in the production of this CD - Diane Almond, Wayne Spencer (artwork), and Keith Angel (Wavelength Arts). Thomas Watling, Richard Potts (DYJA website and IT support). Our thanks to the in-house team without whom much of what we do could not be achieved. Diane Brookes, Michael Taylor, Alan Baguste, Trevor Allen, Executive Committee members and those who give freely of their time to help the Association.

And remembering… Kenny Clare, Phil Gibbons, Derek Jewell, Harold Searle, Neal Hall, Dave Murrell, Benny Green, Sam Cowitz, John Campbell, Willie (Ross) Watson, Don Lusher, Russell Cooke, Bob Florence, Humphrey Lyttleton and Matthieu Côte.

The Doncaster Youth Jazz Association is financially assisted by the Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council.


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