There must’ve been something swirling around in the atmosphere in 1917. It was during this auspicious turn around the sun that the first commercial jazz recording was made and six of the most incredible jazz musicians the world has ever seen were born. The United States saw the arrivals of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Buddy Rich and Tadd Dameron, while just over the water in Cuba, Mongo Santamaria came along.
Their work and influence are celebrated this weekend in a performance by the Nu Civilization Orchestra. It’s an intriguing combination – music by and archive film footage of established heroes being thrown into the mix with one of the most innovative ensembles around, joined by special guest Soweto Kinch.
The Nu Civilization Orchestra grew out of Tomorrow’s Warriors, the music education and professional development programme organisation.
Initially formed in 2008 to bring a one-off performance of Duke Ellington’s The Queen’s Suite to life, the Orchestra was greeted with such enthusiasm that founder Gary Crosby OBE decided that Nu Civilization needed to become a permanent fixture.
In the intervening 10 years, the Orchestra has become synonymous with excellent musicianship and innovative cross-arts experimentation. This has seen them in cinema and visual arts collaborations and performing music by artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell and Igor Stravinsky – as well as more obvious jazz choices like Charles Mingus.
At their 29 April event they turn their skills to big band numbers, conducted by the composer and arranger Peter Edwards. Star saxophonists Binker Golding (Binker and Moses) and Nathaniel Facey (Empirical), and rising star trombonist Rosie Turton (Nérija) all take turns in the spotlight.
If that’s not enough, there’s a free performance before the show starring talented jazz musicians from Tomorrow’s Warrior’s schools programme The Jazz Ticket. Don’t miss the chance to catch some of our most vibrant young talents in action, live.
The Nu Civilization Orchestra's appearance at Queen Elizabeth Hall has now passed. However, there are many other opportunities to see live jazz here at Southbank Centre.