Posts Tagged ‘national youth jazz orchestra’

Scott Chapman & Felix Higginbottom (NYJO) interview

Scott and Felix

Scott Chapman and Felix Higginbottom – NYJO

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) has a reputation for producing some of the music industry’s top players and singers. Scott Chapman currently holds the drum chair, Felix Higginbottom is on percussion and they have just recorded a new NYJO album, which is being launched at The Proms this year.

The guys met up to talk about the big band and the opportunities it can bring to young musicians.

How did you join NYJO?

Scott – My drum teacher told me to go to NYJO so I started off in NYJO 2, which is the younger band for less experienced players. I started off doing that for about two years and got called up to do the first band. At that point I was just sitting in on rehearsals, maybe playing the odd tune. Then I started doing percussion for that band and when the old drummer left I took over.

Felix – I was about 14 and I just wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing at school, our music department was not very strong and none of the people I was playing with particularly pushed me. I think I dropped Bill Ashton a text and he said, ‘We need a dep. There’s a gig in Cambridge. Can you do it?’. So I got my mum to drive me up from Oxford. It came to the gig and Bill handed me the charts about half an hour before and I sh*t myself because it looked so hard; most of it was on vibes. I got through it and nobody noticed that I messed up quite a lot!

I came in from time to time to dep gigs over the years but I never committed to it because of school and Saturday rehearsals; I had school on Saturdays.

Tell me a bit more about NYJO 2 and how it’s structured.

Scott – If you’re newer to big band playing then that’s better suited for you and it’s a really good place to get your sight reading up and to get playing in that environment. The idea is that people get fed through to the first band, which is how I did it, but of course there are people who are already at a good standard who come straight to NYJO 1.

Felix - It’s meant as a training band and there’s a new band as well that’s just formed called NYJO London, which is for anyone in London and it’s another training band. It’s not the same as NYJO 1, which is a professional band. If there’s a space that needs filling in rehearsals the MD will go upstairs and grab someone from NYJO 2 that deserves a shot.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


West End Drummers Part 4 – Tim Goodyer (Shrek)

West End Drummers Part 4 – Tim Goodyer – ‘Shrek The Musical’

Tim Goodyer is the drummer for ‘Shrek, The Musical’, which opened in London’s Theatre Royal on 14th June 2011. Prior to Shrek, Tim held the chair for ‘Dirty Dancing’, which had the highest number of pre-sale tickets in the West End’s history and ran for five years.

In this interview Tim talks about what is involved in working on a show from it’s opening and the importance of experience for musicians in the West End.

When did you start drumming and how did you get into the West End?

I started when I was about 11 and my mum signed me up for percussion lessons just to get me out of the house! I really liked it from the beginning so I practised a lot and I went to a local music centre where I played in orchestras and the county big band; that kind of thing. I’d go and sit in at NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra) and I met Ian Thomas there. I used to watch him play and I asked him who he’d had lessons with. He put me onto Bob Armstrong, who was really good for my general technical development; I still rely on a lot of that stuff that he taught me. In terms of tuition I didn’t go to college or anything like that. I left school at 18 and did any crap gig I could get; some awful pubs, working men’s clubs and the East End pub scene, which was still going at the time. I did local shows…anything like that cos I could read. That’s how I started out.



Bob Knight (Alison Moyet,Rumer)

Bob Knight

Interview with Bob Knight

If you own a television you will have regularly seen Bob Knight at work. Bob was Musical Director of the live Charlotte Church Show for three seasons, which saw him work with many artists including Amy Winehouse and the Manic Street Preachers. He worked on the Justin Lee Collins show, plays in Alison Moyet”s and Nik Kershaw’s bands, is drummer and Musical Director for Rumer and manages to be one of the UK’s top session fixers. Bob found time to tell me about his varied career and I discovered more about the man who Michael Buble has called upon in his hour of need.

How would you describe what you do for a living?

I play the drums, am an MD and I run my contracting business, so double gig!

What’s your background as a drummer?

I come from Yorkshire and I studied at school there. We had lots of good community things that we didn’t have to pay to be part of and there were a lot of good musicians. We won the National Youth Jazz Orchestra competition, you know, those kind of things. Then I did music at A-level and played in bands all round Harrogate. When I was 15 I used to play with guys that are the age that I am now so my dad used to drive me, drop me off and pick me up. I used to do my homework on stage; it was great! There used to be a law that you couldn’t be in a club if you were under 17 unless you got there before it opened and stayed onstage. I would go and set up and just start doing my homework, then the band would turn up and sound check, they’d go off and I’d just stay on stage! Then they’d come back, do the gig and my dad would pick me up at 1am. After my A levels I went to the Royal Academy of Music and did the 4 year jazz degree from ’95 to ‘99 and turned pro from there.