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Catch up on the latest news from the South London Jazz Orchestra. Be the first to hear about upcoming concerts and find out what the band has been up to recently. Read on! 
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Concerts, Recordings And Concert Recordings

SLJO is settling into our new rehearsal space, and a recurring theme seems to be how much warmer it is than our old venue. You wouldn't think heat would be problem for a band that is (how to put this delicately) so free-blowing. But everyone seems happier as the winter sets in.

There will be no problem keeping warm at our last gig of the year on Wednesday 21 December. Christmas jumpers are mandatory for the band at this traditional pub gig, normally one of our most packed-out appearances in the calendar. This year we are playing at a new pub for us near our new rehearsal space, the Crown & Anchor on Brixton Road. See below for details.

Available for sale on the night will be our new CD, a live recording of our gig in May at St Mary's Church in Putney for the Wandsworth Arts Fringe. Here's a track to give you a flavour of things.

Two days before, on Monday 19 December, we will be offering Christmas Carols in Southwark Tube station, raising money for the charity Music for Children, together with our two sister groups within South London Community Music - South London Symphonic Winds and London Sings!

For the first time this newsletter includes updates from those two great musical groups. Plus there's a conversation with Bob Bridges, the musical director for all three, in which we find out that conducting light classics can be more stressful than investment banking.

Jazz for 90th Bash

SLJO joined local dignitaries to help the Rotary Club of Lewisham & Penge celebrate its 90th anniversary at a gala dinner in November. Poppies were the order of the day ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

Here singer Georgie Fellows lets loose with an emotional number backed by the full band.

SLJO is often booked to make corporate and club events special.

meet our...musical director

20 Years, and More, of Passion for Community Music


SLJO Secretary Tom Waite talks to Bob Bridges, musical director of South London Community Music, about the early days of SLJO and why we all do what we do.

How did you come to be musical director?

I was fortunate to have a brief, prodigy exposure in the world stage conducting light classics, but I burned out and changed focus to the world of international finance. At that time, I switched my musical focus to community music, with its attendant positive values for individuals and society at large.

In 1995, the small Southwark Concert Band advertised conductor auditions in Classical music magazine. After a series of auditions, the job was offered to me. Some years later, several members of SCB wanted to start a jazz band and advertisements were published. SLJO was founded as the second ensemble of our nascent charity, now named South London Community Music. 

Do you play an instrument yourself?

In the course of undergraduate and post graduate degree studies, I developed rudimentary performance skills on most instruments. My favourites were bassoon, cello, french horn, piano, and the three instruments which were taken to professional calibre performance levels: trumpet, euphonium and trombone. During my late twenties, my career as a stockbroker and then investment banking, coupled with conducting community groups up to five nights a week, left little or no time for instrument practice, and the choice was made to only focus on conducting.

What do you like best about conducting a band or choir?

Easy. The mutual joys of working with wonderful people who take great joy from experiencing group music making and being able to contribute something to members’ personal growth in so doing.

What do you think is the main purpose of SLJO?

A main purpose of SLJO is the provision of a practical, well-run platform on which people can develop an unwavering respect for other people and simultaneously for the art, which is at the core of that platform.

What is your favourite SLJO piece? And least?  

My favourites: the arrangements of Stan Kenton. My least favourite works are those grounded in commercial triteness.

Finally, who is this Sammy Nestico we keep hearing about? And why does SLJO like him so much?

Sammy Nestico, now aged 92, is best known as Count Basie’s main arranger. His compositions possess a subtle and sophisticated bounce and great melodic structures within the context of very listenable tutti arrangements. Every musician aiming to be a complete artist should look at his book, 'The Complete Arranger'.
SLJO plays many charts composed by Sammy Nestico, including 'Prime Time', 'Hay Burner' and 'Basie, Straight Ahead'. A favourite piece we do that was recorded by Stan Kenton is 'Intermission Riff'. SLJO plays nothing with "commercial triteness", unless you count that theme from Austin Powers...which we don't!

news from South London Symphonic Winds

A 'Can Do' Conductor for Candide...And She Sure Did

By Georgina Blanchard, SLSW chair

It's been a busy few months for us at South London Symphonic Winds. We've been working on repertoire more advanced than previously, and it has taken dedication from all the players. Everyone has been working hard to get the pieces not only up to concert standard but also recording standard. 

On the first weekend in November, we were given the great opportunity to attend a recording session hosted by some of the students at Guildford University. We recorded a wide range of pieces, from the more difficult Symphony for Band by Morton Gould to the well-known Les Miserables to a proper hearty German March. It brought the band together and made us all listen up and think about how we were playing. This recording stood us in great stead for our annual Autumn Concert held at St Bartholomew's Church in Sydenham on November 19th. The concert went off without a hitch, and we had great feedback from all those who came to see us. 

We love to give our players the opportunity to showcase some of their fantastic talent, and this term has been no exception. Rowena (who also plays in SLJO) has turned her hand to conducting and has managed to whip the band into shape, taking over from our musical director Bob Bridges to conduct Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein. We admire her enthusiasm and excitement for conducting, and she got the band sounding fantastic! Here's a taster.

Let's see what talent emerges from the band next...

Looking forward, we are beginning to plan our next big concert (Spring!) and thinking about music suitable for this after having such success with the challenging programme we put together for our Autumn Concert. We are also thinking about the Christmas Season, and we have carols and socials coming up through most of December - what more could you want? 

Keep an eye out on our website and Facebook for the big concerts and if you're interested in playing with us then drop us an email - we'd love to hear from you!

southlondonsymphonicwinds@gmail.com 
Facebook @southlondonsymphonicwinds 

SLSW records in the immense studios of University of Surrey at Guildford.

news from London Sings!

Bringing the holiday spirit to the Horniman


By Lesley Khatibi, London Sings! chair

London Sings! will be helping to close the Horniman Museum Christmas Fair on the afternoon of Sunday 4th December. The choir will be singing on the bandstand from shortly after 4 pm and will be accompanied by a select band of musicians drawn from the other ensembles.

Repertoire will include some lovely Christmas arrangements, and we will be finishing with some rousing communal singing of traditional carols. The Christmas Fair is a free event and all are welcome, so do try and come along to support us and to get in the festive spirit.

Click here for more details.
Monday, Dec 19 - 5pm to 7 pm
Southwark Tube station, map

Even if Southwark Tube station isn’t on your normal commute, you may want to make a detour the Monday before Christmas. SLJO, together with our South London Community Music sister groups South London Symphonic Winds and London Sings!, will be performing carols from about 5 pm to 7 pm.
Wednesday, Dec 21 - 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm
Crown & Anchor 246 Brixton Rd, London SW9 6AQ

Our traditional Christmas pub gig has moved to a new location. The Crown & Anchor is our favourite pub near our new rehearsal venue, and we will be filling it with big band tunes and some special jazzy holiday numbers. So come along, grab a beer or mulled cider, and enjoy the music. Admission is free.
here's a few familiar songs SLJO will swing at our Christmas gig

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Feliz Navidad


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
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Brixton goes Dixieland as Bob and the band break in our new rehearsal space.
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