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Young people turn on to jazz
Jamie Cullum
Rising jazz star Jamie Cullum
Last updated: 25 May 2004 1305 BST
lineMore and more young people in Gloucestershire are getting into jazz music, writes teenager Ed Leighton.
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The interest in jazz music among teenagers in Gloucestershire is growing rapidly. This could well be connected to the International Cheltenham Jazz festival, which is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the country.

Having such names as Jamie Cullum, Liam Noble and John Taylor in such close proximity, it seems almost criminal not to take full advantage of this opportunity to see world class jazz music in Gloucestershire.


Young people learning instruments can now take lessons in jazz playing. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) have jazz grades 1-5 on piano, saxophones, clarinet, trumpet and trombone.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama also do jazz grades for the flute. This gives young people the chance to learn the techniques required for jazz playing, whereas before this oppertunity was not available.

The introduction of jazz into the syllabus for these many instruments may result in an increase in the number of school students taken up musical tuition, as before they may have been discouraged by the prospect of playing classical music.

On the up

However, even classical music is on the up. With the introduction of youth orchestras around the county run by the music branch of the LEA (Local Education Authority), young people are getting an affordable opportunity to play real orchestral music and experiance working in an orchestra.

There are several music centres in Gloucestershire, all running on either Friday evenings or Saturday mornings. All of these perform in their own Music Centres Prom at Cheltenham every year, as part of the Gloucester Youth Music festival there.

Two of these offer jazz bands as part of the morning or evening sessions, which introduces yet more people to the idea of playing jazz.

There are several youth jazz groups in Gloucestershire. One of these is the Gloucester Young Jazz band, for intermediate players who want to get experience in playing live in a big band style.


The most recognised of the Gloucestershire young jazz bands is probably the Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra (GYJO).

This band of incredibly talented young musicians did no less than 45 gigs last year, directed by Tony Shepard. This band is a first class big band with a wide variety of styles in their repertoire, from latin to jazz standards.

These are Gloucestershire's finest young musicians, who are experts on their chosen instrument. These types of groups are the best boost to a music students confidence and motivaton that they could ever dream of. In this way they can all experiance the buzz of performing live.

And this has a dual benefit to the youth jazz scene. Not only does it provide experience for the performers in the bands, it also serves as an inspiration for any young people who see them enjoying themselves producing first class jazz music.


Furthermore, young people are more likely to happen to see these bands in concert because the general interest in jazz music is growing fast. With the likes of Diana Krall and Norah Jones (not to mention Jamie Cullum) topping the not only the jazz charts, but the popular singles and album charts as well, this is not surprising.

Yet with this growing interest, surely there must come a demand for more jazz programming. As a percentage of the total airtime on television and radio, jazz music must be pretty low. Perhaps there should be programmes about jazz musicians similar to those about Mozart and Beethoven in recent months?

Maybe there should be a jazz music prom this year in the the BBC Proms concert series. The listener demand is certainly there, and an increasing proportion of that demand is from young people. There is no doubt that this is because of the high quality of music service provision in this area over the past few years.

Perhaps the music industry should open the gates wider to get some more variety to the British popular jazz scene as well.

Dizzee Gillespie
Jazz trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie


The new young fans of jazz need to be made aware of a variety of jazz styles. There are fears that the music industry will stick to the styles that they know are selling records, rather than risking an expansion through a new brand of album. This could lead to a narrow view of jazz among the teenagers of today, when in fact jazz is anything but.

The eclectic range of styles and personalities expanding from the one word "jazz" can only be realised through listening to as wide a variety of artists as possible.

The British contempory scene has never been better, with Liam Noble, Andy Sheppard, John Taylor and Denys Baptiste all releasing albums in this category. While Jamie Cullum is without a doubt one of the freshest new talents in the jazz and popular scenes, the fate of this new surge of interest in jazz rests on the music industry broadening its line of sight.

This article contains user-generated content (ie external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.


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