The results of the Australian National Jazz Orchestra (ANJO) Youth Big Band auditions have been announced, with two WAYJO alumni joining the ranks for 2022. WAYJO congratulates 23 year old saxophonist Jayden Blockley (WAYJO member 2013-16 & 2021) & 23 year old pianist Jackson Van Ballegooyen (WAYJO member 2014-16).

Jackson Van Ballegooyen & Jayden Blockley
Jackson Van Ballegooyen (left) & Jayden Blockley (right)

Having played music together since primary school, Jayden and Jackson’s musical connection spans over a decade. The pair studied jazz under mentor James Morrison and both performed as artists at Generations In Jazz, the largest Jazz festival in the Southern Hemisphere, performing alongside the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and jazz giants Gordon Goodwin, Joey DeFrancesco and Kurt Elling.

Both members of the duo command virtuosic control of their respective instruments and have a deep connection with the jazz tradition, which ranges from hard swinging jazz, to elegant, romantic ballads. They will perform at the Sydney International Jazz Festival, previously hosting ‘The Jazz Dinner’ at the Perth International Jazz Festival in 2021.

67 applications (VIC 19, NSW 21, QLD 8, WA 9, SA 9, TAS 1) were received from elite young jazz musicians aged 18-25 from all over Australia. Applicants recorded and submitted notated and improvised excerpts for a ‘blindfold’ audition by judges, which included ANJO Youth Big Band Artistic Directors, Nadje Noordhuis (NY), David Theak (NSW) and Mace Francis (WA), plus 2022 guest conductor/composer Vanessa Perica (VIC).

“I was blown away by the outstanding level of musicianship displayed by those who auditioned from across the country. We have some exciting new voices to watch out for. I can’t wait to work with this talented group in June!” – Vanessa Perica, 2022 ANJO Guest Artist.

ANJO participants travel to Sydney in early June for a 5-day project, including rehearsal intensive, sectionals, festival and club performances, and a video/audio recording for future broadcast. ANJO Youth Big Band has added a November season, which will see the band perform at the Perth International Jazz Festival for the first time, with further concerts to be announced.

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