The British Army Jazz Orchestra was formed in 2006 and is made up of the finest jazz musicians within the Corps of Army Music.
The British Army Jazz Orchestra (BAJO) was formed in 2006 as an opportunity for the very best jazz instrumentalists in the Corps of Army Music to demonstrate what can be achieved when they join together to create one world class ensemble.
The BAJO has performed at the Chichester Jazz Festival and famous jazz venues, including The Bull's Head in Barnes and Jazz at the Manor in Ruislip, for which they received an outstanding review.
The band has also performed with some of the very best jazz musicians in the country, such as Gordon Campbell (BBC Big Band, John Wilson Orchestra) and Jay Craig (Buddy Rich Big Band, Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Director - BBC Big Band).
Major (Maj) Mark Aldridge joined the Army in 1986 and on completion of training was assigned to the Regimental Band of the Royal Highland Fusiliers. Since completing the 3 year Bandmasters Course in 2002, he has served as the Bandmaster of the Royal Irish Regiment and the Band of the Scots Guards. He was commissioned in 2007 as the Director of Music of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles and went on to command the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
After a one year career break working as the Head of Music at Bede Academy in Northumberland in 2017, Maj Aldridge re-joined the Corps and is currently Director of Music of the Band of the Scots Guards.
A published arranger and composer, Maj Aldridge is also a keen instrumentalist and often performs as a member of the band’s sax section. He has worked with the British Army Jazz Orchestra since its inception in 2006, performing with artists such as Jools Holland and Ruby Turner as well as some of the country’s finest jazz talent. Now at the helm of this world-class ensemble, he is looking forward to challenges ahead and taking the band to the next level .
Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Paul Mason joined the Army as a musician in 2009 and after completing Phase two training at the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM), he went on to become a member of the Band of the Irish Guards, performing at many of the country’s highest profile events such as Trooping the Colour and the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance. After 7 years with the Irish Guards Band, SSgt Mason returned to RMSM and completed the 12 month course to become a Bandmaster. In September 2019, SSgt Mason was appointed Bandmaster of The Band of The Household Cavalry, based in Windsor.
SSgt Mason’s civilian musical experience is extensive. This has included touring both in the UK and internationally with shows such as Saturday Night Fever, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas and Fiddler on the Roof. Over his career, SSgt Mason regularly performed with artists and bands such as The Four Tops, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, Joe Longthorne, Glenn Miller Orchestra UK, Nelson Riddle Orchestra UK, Pete Cater Big Band and the Andy Prior Big Band, to name but a few.
Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Dean Nixon studied classical contemporary saxophone at Huddersfield University gaining a BMus (Hons) in 1999. He then went on to have a successful career working in London’s West End on such shows as The Rat Pack: Live from Las Vegas, Chicago, Anything Goes, My One and Only and Jersey Boys. SSgt Nixon has also toured with international artists: The Four Tops and The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis and Barry Manilow.
SSgt Nixon has a keen interest in Big Band and Jazz from a young age and has worked with: The National Youth Jazz Orchestra, The BBC Big Band, Syd Lawrence Orchestra and Back to Basie to name just a few. He is really looking forward to working with the British Army Jazz Orchestra once more and relishes the challenge of being section leader.
Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Evatt Gibson joined the British Army in 2002 and has served in six bands, including the Household Cavalry, the Grenadier Guards and a three-year tour of Germany with the Royal Lancers Band. He is currently Bandmaster of The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. His career highlight has to be conducting his own fanfare to open the 2017 Highland Military Tattoo while an F-35 flew past on full afterburner!
CSgt Gibson has performed with the British Army Jazz Orchestra since its inception, including a memorable gig with Jools Holland and Ruby Turner.
Sergeant (Sgt) Neil Brocklehurst enlisted into the Army in 1997, joining the Band of the Scots Guards as a percussionist the following year. He has performed at many state ceremonial events including The Queen's Birthday Parade, State Opening of Parliament and numerous State Visits. Other Army career highlights include performing at the Bermuda Tattoo and the closing ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.
Sgt Brocklehurst is one of the finest drummers in UK Military Music. During a 5 year career break from the Army, he worked in London's West End on many shows, including Blood Brothers, Chicago, Cabaret, Whistle Down The Wind and We Will Rock You.
THE BRITISH ARMY JAZZ ORCHESTRA COMPETITION 2019
British Army Jazz Orchestra Competition
As part of the Corps of Army Music's 25th anniversary celebrations, the BAJO are holding a competition to bring Big Band music to a younger generation and encourage young musicians to develop their musical talents.
The competition is designed to give school bands, youth band and music services the opportunity to record their own Big Band version of Amazing Grace, arranged for BAJO by Rob Neild. The sheet music is available from the CAMUS Media Team and those wishing to enter must send in a recording of their performance.
The winning entry will perform a joint concert with the BAJO at their school/venue.
- The music for the BAJO competition is available from the CAMUS Media Team (firstname.lastname@example.org). They have a selection of lead sheets/parts/full scores so feel free to record your own version of the track.
- The competition will be judged by a panel of top Army Musicians.
- Your version must not be longer than 4 minutes in length.
- All musicians must be 18 years old and below on 1 January 2020.
- The closing date for entries is 15 December 2019.
- Recordings are to be sent to email@example.com via a WeTransfer link.
- Recordings must be accompanied by an application form (available to download below).
- The winner will be announced in January 2020 on social media.