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WAYJO’s purpose is to engage and inspire emerging jazz musicians, to challenge them to be the best they can be; and to entertain and enthuse music lovers with exceptional jazz.
For 30 years, WAYJO has provided opportunity and inspiration to some of Australia’s most outstanding young jazz artists. The original band was formed in 1983, mostly from specialist music school students and participants in the inaugural Jazz Studies course at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). WAYJO soon grew to two bands and by the late 1990s, to three bands, each with its own Music Director. Competition for places has increased almost every year, leading to consistent improvement in the quality of musicianship in all three bands.
Members of WAYJO’s three 18-piece bands (the Composers Ensemble, the Big Band and the Swing Band) currently perform around sixty concerts each year to audiences of almost 20,000 people, at venues ranging from intimate jazz clubs to parks and concert halls. WAYJO has performed alongside award-winning Australian and international artists such as Fred Wesley, Franck Tortiller, Jim McNeely, Ed Partyka, Frank Foster, James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, Don Burrows, Joe Chindamo and John Morrison.
Prominent WAYJO alumni include Graham Wood, Jamie Oehlers, Mat Jodrell, Graeme Blevins and Andy Fisenden. Recent notable achievements by alumni include:
- Grammy nominee Troy Roberts representing Australia at Herbie Hancock’s inaugural UNESCO International Jazz Day at the United Nations in New York;
- Sarah McKenzie winning the 2012 APRA and ARIA Awards for Best Jazz Album, and a full scholarship to Berklee University;
- Bassist Linda Oh being awarded Best Debut Album by New York’s All About Jazz magazine;
- Composer / pianist Johannes Luebbers winning 2009 Jazz Song of the Year at the Australian Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards, and being named the 2009 WA Youth Arts Citizen of the Year;
- Alumnus and 2012 Composer-in-Residence Andrew Murray winning the APRA/JMO National Big Band composition award.