South London Jazz Orchestra (SLJO) is a spirited group of dedicated amateur musicians from a variety of backgrounds, whose aim is to promote and perform Big Band jazz in the community, to improve the musicianship of members, and to have as much fun as possible while doing so.
The band is non-auditioned. A minimum of Grade 5 is recommended, with a range of abilities up to semi-pro level. SLJO is formed of a standard Big Band line up (including clarinets and flutes, and vocalists). While a good percentage of the music played by the band focuses on classic Big Band Swing, the band also enjoys playing blues, latin and funk tunes and some more modern charts.
We play approximately 25-30 gigs each year, and have performed at a wide range of events and venues including the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe Festivals, the Chelsea Arts Club, and London’s prestigious 100 Club, as well as numerous bandstands across the capital.
We also perform at private events and functions such as weddings, award ceremonies, community events, corporate functions, private parties and at local pubs. Additionally the band goes on tour both within the UK and abroad, usually on an annual basis. We have just returned from a successful tour to Edinburgh.
We rehearse weekly throughout the year, every Wednesday evening in Brixton.
The band appears in different configurations – our ‘full SLJO’ can have up to 40 players, with our ‘mini SLJO’ being the classic 16-18 piece big band set up. We have recently developed a dedicated repertoire for a smaller line-up of approximately 8 players (currently called ‘micro SLJO’).
SLJO has a strong educational ethos. We have run improvisation courses for members, give opportunities for members to develop technical and conducting skills and sometimes invite guest artists to come and work with the band.
SLJO is part of South London Community Music (SLCM), the umbrella charity which also includes London Sings! and South London Symphonic Winds. Among the aims of SLCM to which the band subscribes is the aim “…to advance, improve, develop and maintain public education in, and appreciation of the art and science of music in all its aspects”.
SLJO is looking for a new conductor and music director, as James Keirle moves on after five hugely successful years.
As (probably) the largest regularly performing Big Band in the UK, this is an exciting chance to lead a group of dedicated and enthusiastic players in a new phase of the ensemble.
Main Duties and Responsibilities
- Prepare and lead weekly rehearsals of the ensemble. Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evening between 7.30pm-9.30pm in the band’s rehearsal venue in Brixton, South London. The Conductor should expect to arrive half an hour before each rehearsal. There are also irregular one off rehearsals for particular gigs, usually held on a Friday night.
- Lead the approximately 30 gigs of the band throughout the year, usually at weekends. Gigs are mainly in the South London region although occasionally further afield, with most years featuring at least one tour, for example to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
- Contribute towards and reasonably support the musical development of SLJO members during rehearsals and performances.
- Support the SLJO Committee in the development of extra musical activities for the band, including gigs led by SLJO member conductors, and educational activities such as improvisation courses or community focussed projects. The Conductor will also be welcome to propose their own ideas in consultation with the committee.
- Prepare set lists in advance of gigs and, where possible, rehearsals and ensure they are circulated to the band in advance.
- In consultation with SLJO’s Gig Manager or SLJO Chair or Vice Chair, liaise over the make up of the band for each performance to ensure a good balance of instruments and sufficient quality. From time to time it may be necessary for a dep musician to be hired for a performance and it would be expected that the Conductor would be involved in that decision.
- As required, contribute to the accepting of and planning for gigs for the band in consultation with the SLJO Chair in terms of the venue’s suitability and appropriateness for our current repertoire.
- Where the Conductor is not able to lead a particular gig (for example due to holiday), to arrange, brief and quality assure a dep replacement – with a preference for existing band members where feasible.
- By open invitation, attend quarterly meetings of the SLJO Committee (usually on Tuesday nights).
- From time to time, and no more than quarterly, prepare reports on the musical activities of the band for the SLJO Committee, including for presentation at the band’s AGM.
- In consultation with the SLJO Committee, play a key role in the content and development of the SLJO musical pads to ensure they contain a wide variety of music suitable for performance, and to challenge and interest members, bearing in mind the range of musical abilities within the band. SLJO has an extensive library of music and budget to purchase new tunes as necessary.
- To be reasonably available between rehearsals and gigs on phone, WhatsApp or e-mail if required for the organisation of band activity.
- A positive, energetic approach to band leadership.
- Significant experience in, knowledge of, and passion for, Big Band and jazz/swing music.
- Experience of working with large, mixed ability groups of amateur musicians.
- Experience of leading large bands.
- Commitment to the ethos of community music.
- Experience in developing the confidence and ability of musical groups and individuals with a wide range of proficiencies.
- Clarity of communication to get the most from a band in gigs and rehearsals, and engage audiences.
- A working understanding of basic technique for the instruments of a big band.
The Conductor will report to the Chair and Vice Chair of the SLJO Committee.
The Conductor will be engaged on a one year contract after a trial period of 3 months. The contract may be extended by agreement between the SLJO Committee and the Conductor on a rolling annual basis.
The Conductor will have the status of an independent contractor, and will not be an employee.
The role will be remunerated on a per rehearsal/per gig basis upon submission of a monthly invoice to the SLJO Treasurer.
Rates: £140 per gig conducted; £70 per weekly rehearsal. Rates potentially negotiable based on experience.
To apply for this position, please send a CV and a covering letter explaining your interest and suitability for the role (2xA4 page maximum) to SLJO.Recruitment@gmail.com by 5pm on 15 September 2023.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview in South London or Central London during the week beginning 2 October 2023. The interviews will take place in the evening.
Applicants successful at the interview stage will then be invited to take a trial rehearsal or gig with the band.
For any further questions or to speak to someone informally about the role please also e-mail SLJO.Recruitment@gmail.com