So, in the lead up to our brilliant live jazz jam with Bucks Youth Jazz Collective (BYJC) on the 26th of November, we thought we would have an interview with Ralph Wyld.
Alongside Faye Hayhurst (Area Manager), the duo spearhead a resurgence of jazz in the Bucks area.
Primarily focused on jazz musicians from the age of 15-19, BYJC brings new, vibrant, and fearless young jazz musicians back to the Bucks area.
C22 had a one to one with Ralph (Director of BYJC) to talk about the inspiration behind the music organisation, his journey within jazz and of course the collaboration with us.
Across the world at the moment there is a recognition of the brilliant things going on in British Jazz. Artists like Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings are reaching new audiences and spreading the word.
Before getting onto your impressive collective, let us talk about jazz. We set up C22 to step away from old views of jazz being boring and snobbish-how has jazz changed for you?
Jazz is such a broad church now that if you think you do not like jazz, you have not listened to the right kind of jazz…! The music is always changing and developing because it is a living art form; when improvisation is involved it is going to sound different every night. What has changed in the last few years is the public perception as jazz once again gets a little of the attention it deserves.
We note that Bucks has a great history with music. Is it important to push Bucks as a place of great music outside of that London-centric view?
One of the most important things for young musicians is to get out there and hear live music. It is something that you cannot recreate with recordings or in the practice room. We are lucky in Bucks to have London on the doorstep, but there is also a danger that the gravity pulls people away. There are many amazing musicians living in Bucks who barely perform here. If we can foster an independent scene here then it benefits everybody: musicians, audience, and students.
We always try and push UK Jazz-what are your thoughts? We feel that UK Jazz is in an amazing and fertile period pushing new sounds.
Across the world at the moment there is a recognition of the brilliant things going on in British Jazz. Artists like Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings are reaching new audiences and spreading the word. It is great to see a spotlight being shone on the exciting, creative work that is going on.
There are many amazing musicians living in Bucks who barely perform here. If we can foster an independent scene here then it benefits everybody: musicians, audience, and students.
Talk to us a bit about your own history and love of jazz?
I have musical parents. My dad is a trombonist and fostered my love of jazz (and he in turn was introduced to it by his dad). I was lucky to have access to some London-based jazz activities, but there was not a lot of improvisation going on in my county music service, which is part of the reason I have been bringing this kind of thing to Bucks.
I am now a professional vibraphonist and composer.
In 2016 I released my debut album with Edition Records, with my band Mosaic. I play in lots of groups, doing original and contemporary jazz. Currently I am mostly busy as a sideman with Yazz Ahmed, as well as running jazz groups in Aylesbury and across Bucks. I love vibraphonists like Gary Burton, Milt Jackson, and Bobby Hutcherson.
Beyond the vibraphone I listen to a lot of John Scofield, Dave Holland, and Oscar Peterson.
Take us through the beginnings of BYJC, aside from jazz (of course) what was the idea and inspiration behind it?
Buckinghamshire Music Trust has a long history of producing excellent jazz musicians. For many years, the Aylesbury Music Centre Dance Band run by Nick Care was known nationally for its performances and even appeared on Blue Peter.
Recent alumni include BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year winner Alex Ridout and finalist Tom Ridout. We continue that work to this day with strong big bands at our music centres.
My biggest passion has always been for improvisation and small band playing, where musicians have the freedom to interact and respond to each other. I noticed that, although we were producing these brilliant musicians and they were having success in national or London-based groups, they did not have a group at county level in Buckinghamshire to play together. Thus the idea of Bucks Youth Jazz Collective was born – a vehicle for the best young improvisers to play together and explore new music and ideas.
We are stoked that your young performers will bless our next C22-what can we expect as your guys who came last time were excellent?
On our summer residency in July, we were lucky enough to be joined by the brilliant bassist and composer Dave Manington. He shared some of his compositions with us, and so we will be bringing a few of those. We will also be celebrating British Jazz with a composition by the late, great Kenny Wheeler. Finally, we look to the tradition and history of jazz with some standards.
Lastly what are the plans for 2023?
2023 looks set to be a hugely exciting year for BYJC. We have a couple of festival performances in the pipeline, as well as appearing at the Royal Albert Hall alongside hundreds of other Bucks Music Trust musicians in March. In the summer we will undertake our first tour, performing several concerts in Ghent, Belgium.