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Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz Set for Album Release and U.S. Tour

Led by Sean Jones, noted youth ensemble is joined on album by Melissa Aldana and Wycliffe Gordon, and on tour by Jazzmeia Horn

NYO Jazz
Students from NYO Jazz at Carnegie Hall. (Photo by Chris Lee)

Carnegie Hall has announced the schedule for the first U.S. tour by its NYO Jazz ensemble, which will follow the release of their first full-length studio album, We’re Still Here, on June 24, 2022. NYO Jazz (NYO originally stood for New Youth Orchestra) is one of Carnegie Hall’s three youth orchestras and is led by the program’s artistic director Sean Jones. Featuring musicians aged 16-19 from all over the country, NYO Jazz was created in 2018 by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Its ensembles have previously toured Europe in 2018, with Dianne Reeves as a special guest, and Asia in 2019, with Kurt Elling as the special guest.

Vocalist Jazzmeia Horn will join the group’s tour of seven U.S. cities this summer as its special guest (dates listed below). “I’m very excited to perform with the amazing young musicians of Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz this summer,” Horn said in a press release received at JazzTimes. “What a wonderful opportunity as this tour marks my first time playing an entire tour with a big band and I’m especially thrilled to sing selections from my new big-band album, Dear Love. I’m curious to see how NYO Jazz will interpret my latest expression of love musically as we connect with audiences in cities around the U.S. This will be a fun journey to share with them!” 

Sean Jones conducting NYO Jazz
Sean Jones conducting NYO Jazz

Because of the pandemic, the ensemble gathered virtually in 2020, but they were able to get together in-person during the summer of 2021 at Purchase College SUNY; there they rehearsed and recorded their debut album, which features Jones, as well as saxophonist Melissa Aldana. The album includes four works commissioned by Carnegie Hall: “Run with Jones” by Miguel Zenón; “Mr. Jones and Co.” by Ayn Inserto; “Fête dans la tête” by John Beasley; and “RPM’s” by Igmar Thomas. The album also includes compositions by Wycliffe Gordon, Ralph Peterson, Duke Pearson, Duke Ellington, and Jones.

“You close your eyes and think they’re all 20 years older than they are,” Jones said in the same press release. “The big band has always been America’s orchestral format and one of the most wide-ranging ensembles ever devised. It can convey nearly any style of music in a sonically stimulating and interactive way. This recording exhibits that diversity by placing classics by Duke Ellington and Neal Hefti alongside pieces that utilize the big band as a vehicle for contemporary American music and represent a wide variety of genres.”

For more information about NYO Jazz, visit the program’s page on Carnegie Hall’s website.

Tour schedule:

July 28: Carnegie Hall | New York, NY
July 30: Tri-C Metro Auditorium | Cleveland, OH
August 1: Chautauqua Amphitheater | Chautauqua, NY
August 2: The August Wilson African American Cultural Center | Pittsburgh, PA
August 4: Navy Pier, Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park | Chicago, IL
August 5: The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center | Detroit, MI
August 7: Wisconsin Union Theater | Madison, WI
August 9: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts | Washington, D.C.