The last of all that jazz

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Leader of Youth Jazz Orchestra takes bow with tribute to predecessor

Stuart Grills, musical director of Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra will take his final bow with a tribute to predecessor Alan Tomlinson, who died last month, at a concert on Sunday (July 5).

Stuart Grills

Stuart Grills

Stuart, from Chorley, joined the Orchestra as a young trumpet player in the 1970s –and the show, at Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre, will be his last as the band’s musical director after 25 years in charge.

“Alan Tomlinson was a remarkable man, a real gentleman, and a person who provided so much musical inspiration for so many young people,” said Grills.

“He was my first brass tutor when I joined the Lancashire Schools Symphony Orchestra as a trumpeter all those years ago when I was at school.

“The band will play a track by the great Canadian trumpet player Maynard Ferguson, one of the first pieces of music Alan played for me, so we will dedicate it to him.

Alan Tomlinson was a remarkable man, a real gentleman, and a person who provided so much musical inspiration for so many young people

Stuart Grills

“It will be a poignant evening, remembering him, and after a quarter of a century of involvement it will be quite emotional for me, too, recalling all the great times we’ve enjoyed together.”

Many former band members have found fame and fortune in professional music since cutting their teeth with the Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra playing popular big band music.

Ribble Valley trumpeter Andy Greenwood, who was also tutored by Tomlinson, has performed on the London stage with Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Shirley Bassey, The Who and George Michael.

Saxophonist Ian Kirkham starred with Simply Red, while Sunday’s special guest is Preston-born trombonist Alistair White, who jets in from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds European tour, to be at the Grand.

“I’m terribly proud of them all, and it will be fantastic to see Alistair again, who has made a real name for himself, playing bass trombone in Noel Gallagher’s band and also with Cleo Laine and Tony Bennett.”

Formed in 1976, the Jazz Orchestra has performed with many national and internationally known musicians, including Georgie Fame.

“Somebody from the band asked me the what my favourite memory was and I think it would have to be Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra winning the National Festival of Music for Youth,” said Stuart.

“That was special because we won through to the Schools Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, above, and it was an incredible honour for the band to play on that wonderful stage.”

The Lancashire Music Service runs a thriving network of tuition and ensemble experience for students, both in schools and at music centres in the county.

The best are offered the chance to play in one of the county ensembles, such as the Jazz Orchestra.

Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, July 5. £8 adults, £4 concs.

Tony Dewhurst