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NYO Jazz ready for South Africa

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Featured Image Credit: NYO Live 15 credit Todd Rosenberg
Images to be credited by: Todd Rosenberg, Chris Lee & Harrison Weinstein Photography

NYO Jazz, a group encompassing of outstanding young musicians ages between 16–19 from across the US, returns for its seventh season of extraordinary music-making and gets on its first-ever tour to South Africa, this July and August 2024. This remarkable ensemble, created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in 2018, annually brings together some of the most outstanding teen jazz musicians from across the United States to train, perform, and tour with some of the world’s greatest artists while also serving as music ambassadors, sharing America’s greatest artform with audiences.

NYO Jazz will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York on 20 July, before beginning their historic visit to South Africa. The tour includes debut performances at The Market Theatre, Johannesburg (26, 27 & 28 July); The Playhouse, Durban (1 August); and Artscape, Cape Town (2 & 3 August) as well as music making with local South African musicians. This tour marks the first time that one of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles will perform on the African continent. It follows successful international tours by NYO Jazz to some of the most prestigious concert halls and music festivals across Europe, Asia, and the United States. When covid-19 hit, it put their South Africa tour to halt.

Blowin` 2 credit Chris Lee

Celebrated Artistic Director and bandleader / trumpeter Sean Jones leads NYO Jazz, joined by vocalist Alicia Olatuja, who has been praised by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone,” as special guest for their annual Carnegie Hall concert and on tour. Ahead of their South African tour, the musicians are in New York now for an intensive 10-day training residency. They will work with world-class jazz masters on the campus of Purchase College, State University of New York.

Coming to SA is an opportunity for NYO Jazz to experience the richness of the country’s culture and history while sharing their remarkable artistry with audiences throughout the country. Complementing their performances, the players’ schedule will also include exciting opportunities for cultural exchange and peer-to-peer activities with local young people, an element that has become a hallmark of international tours by all three of Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles.

For NYO Jazz’s 2024 concerts, Carnegie Hall has commissioned a new work by South African composer Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane. The ensemble’s diverse program will also include big band classics by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Mary Lou Williams; a new big band arrangement from Terri Lyne Carrington’s project “New Standards: 101 Lead Sheets by Women Composers”, Lakecia Benjamin’s “Trane,” arranged by Jhoely Garay; and other contemporary pieces, showcasing jazz as a living and limitless art form. “We are thrilled to have NYO Jazz make its debut in South Africa this year—the first visit to Africa by any of our national youth ensembles,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall.

“South Africa is indeed a motherland where jazz resonates deeply within our souls, and we are thrilled to host the gifted NYO Jazz musicians,” said Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane. “We will weave together the joyful spirit of the legendary Hugh Masekela with many of our other diverse musical influences, creating a powerful and unforgettable sound of our home: South Africa.”

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