Best of Young Jazz

is an education and audience development project aimed at young jazz musicians aged 12+ who live in Worcestershire.

Best of Young Jazz

is an education and audience development project aimed at young jazz musicians aged 12+ who live in Worcestershire.

About Us

The project was born from a partnership Upton Jazz Association in 2008 in collaboration with partners in response to a lack of provision for young jazz musicians to develop their skills, especially in the essential areas of improvisation and live performance.

The project celebrates and develops the exceptional talents of the young musicians that it works with, and aims to nurture and support music making of the highest quality.

The project has been congratulated many times by the jazz community for developing young talent in this area. Few music projects across the UK are investing in jazz in this way and it remains difficult for young people with a passion for the genre to find help and support outside the project, particularly if they do not want to join Big Bands or would like something in addition to that option.

Best of Young Jazz works closely with a number of partner organisations including Birmingham Conservatoire and Severn Arts who recognise the project as a formal partner in the delivery of music education in the county.

Our Story

2008

2008

The  Upton Jazz Association is given a  small external grant relating to flood relief.  Using some of the funding, they seize the opportunity to address a  long-held ambition: to develop younger, wider audiences, and support the next generation of  Jazz musicians. Steve Boffy is appointed to research, develop and manage a project.

2009

Best of Young Jazz is created and a programme of live performance, workshops and school residencies is delivered. Upton Jazz Association commits to progressing Best of Young Jazz beyond its pilot stage, strengthening partnerships, and building on its positive achievements.

2010

2010

Following a successful Lottery funding bid, Best of Young Jazz is developed to increase opportunities for young people and raise standards of excellence. This includes the development of an ‘Academy’ as well as three additional major performances across Worcestershire.

2011

Best of Young Jazz continues to benefit from a strong core of enthusiastic regular participants, whilst also forging new links with school groups and professionals from around the country. New elements to the project include the introduction of workshops in jazz vocal improvisation.

2012

Best of Young Jazz welcomes new performers who have approached the project from across the UK, and open auditions seek out the brightest local young jazz talent. Atrocious weather conditions challenge the festival’s delivery, but Best of Young Jazz continues to thrive with the highest number of participants to date, and

2013

2013

With the decision to move the festival from Fish Meadow into Upton town centre, the Upton Jazz Festival is in a transitional phase, which inevitably affects the shape of Best of Young Jazz 2013. A shorter performance programme and a new venue location give Best of Young Jazz’s presence at the festival a different feel from previous years. Workshops held outside the festival weekend help to attract new participants and create new partnerships with local organisations.

2014

2014

Best of Young Jazz is given a prime location for its venue on the main festival site proving a hugely popular attraction. The two-­‐day performance programme is retained and includes a very well attended workshop on the Sunday leading to a performance in the afternoon schedule. The exciting and varied programme is well received by festival goers.

2015

Best of Young Jazz enters a new phase of strategic research and development to support its long-­‐term commitment to increasing opportunities for young emerging jazz musicians in the county and regionally. Discussions with partners and funders have been ongoing throughout 2015 as the Best of Young Jazz management team plan to extend their activities into a year-­‐round programme which is flexible enough to deliver jazz workshops in schools and to provide advanced masterclasses

2016

2016

Developmental funding is secured enabling Best of Young Jazz to start building from its firm foundations on an exciting new two-­‐year initiative, Time to Shine.This programme will deliver a host of exciting opportunities for young talented and emerging jazz musicians across the county and beyond. BoYJ will strengthen its work with partner organisations, artists and schools enabling greater scope for the realisation of its vision to educate, celebrate and inspire young musicians. Significantly increased activity will take place in and out of formal education settings alongside a wealth of opportunities to perform and see new work by professional jazz artists.

Time to Shine

In 2015, with support from the Arts Council, we launched a two-year development programme, Time to Shine, which aims to extend the Best of Young  Jazz programme from its home in Upton to benefit music students and teachers across Worcestershire by developing a series of workshops in and out of schools.

With support from Severn Arts (formerly Worcestershire Youth Music), we are targeting schools who either have a passion for music or have limited music options to give young musicians a chance to work with professional jazz musicians to either try out jazz for the first time or to develop their skills.

2015 Highlights
  • 220 young performers filled 19 hours of stage time across the festival weekend in the Best of Young Jazz venue.
  • Best of Young Jazz performances drew an average audience of 190 per performance over the Festival weekend.
  • The Best of Young Jazz venue was often well beyond its seating capacity of 245, with audiences making use of the decent weather, spilling out of the marquee and sitting on the bank outside with good views of the stage.
  • We received substantial additional funding from Arts Council England,The Elmley
  • Anniversary Fund and The Bransford Trust alongside smaller regular funding, enabling us to begin planning and delivery of an ambitious two-year education project, Time to Shine.
  • Best of Young Jazz employed 20 professional jazz musicians 15 of whom are in the early stages of their careers.
2016 Highlights

Our 2016 programme highlights included:

  • Launching Time to Shine, our new and ambitious 2-year development programme which will significantly increase our activity within Worcestershire, as well as expanding our reach into neighbouring counties;
  • Piloting Jazz Days, a new outreach programme in Worcestershire school for aspiring young musicians and their teachers. This year we ran three workshops for aspiring young musicians at all levels; one workshop for Bromsgrove Middle and High Schools, one workshop for young musicians from across the county and a Jazz masterclass for teachers;
  • The Best of Young Jazz venue at Upton Jazz Festival welcomed 280 young performers and filled 19 hours of stage time across the festival weekend. Our stage featured school bands, young professional jazz musicians, including Alexander Bone, winner of BBC’s Young Jazz Musician of the Year, the County’s youth jazz orchestras, young ensembles and soloists;
  • A unique dance performance with The Jiving Lindy Hoppers. Building on our 2015 activity, we brought together 38 dancers from Dyson Perrin’s CE Academy in Malvern, a young vocal group and Second Line jazz band, to do a live performance in the Jazz Festival’s dance marquee;
  • 250 complimentary festival passes were distributed to participants’ friends and family and an estimated additional 280 passes were purchased by other audience members, over a third were purchased at our special ‘guest’ day rate;
  • Running our first ever Residential Weekend Masterclass for 10 of our most talented young musicians, led by Birmingham Conservatoire and its affiliate professionals, in an inspirational setting on the Malvern Hills;
  • Five workshops and many opportunities throughout the year for new performers to get involved in the project including; collaborative dance, band and vocal project; vocal workshops and our advanced weekend masterclass;
  • Exploring new partnerships with music and education providers such as; Severn Arts(formerly Worcestershire Youth Music), Dudley Performing Arts, Gloucestershire Jazz Live, Forest Arts in Walsall and Herefordshire Music Service to discuss the future of the programme.
  • We employed 26 professional jazz artists; 19 of whom are in the early stages of their careers;
  • Peter Johnson and Matthew Hadden filled the two Young Mentor/Trainee posts and Freddie Lockett joined the festival team as a volunteer.

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How about this for a top team?! We've just had our final logistics meeting and we are ready and raring to go. Catch BOYJ at Upton Jazz Festival on 24th and 25th June.

Still opportunity to get tickets: uptonjazz.co.uk/tickets.html

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We're getting closer and closer to our fantastic weekend of excellent young musicians at Upton Jazz Festival Whilst our stage maybe jam packed with top flight musicians there are still a few performance spots at the fringe left to fill! ... See MoreSee Less

Calling all jazz musicians! We've a FREE fringe performance space at the heart of this year's festival, and we'd love you to come and play. Call 01684 593254 to book a slot over the weekend of June 22...

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