KYJO’s origins can be traced way back to 1981, when it was launched by its first musical director, the late Randy Colville after a series of jazz workshops. Under the leadership of Geoff Miller, who directed the band for many years, KYJO subsequently reached new heights and started performing at high-profile events.
Thirtyfour years later it is still going strong with about 25 young players rehearsing fortnightly at Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone and continuing to run jazz workshops across the county. Current musical director Graham Mann and tutor Mike Austin are both former members who have returned to bring jazz to the next generation of young musicians.
Many members of KYJO have also played in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and many become professional musicians, play with the armed services or follow a career in music teaching. Many of them retain their links with KYJO, returning for guest performances and reunion concerts and parties – or as parents whose children are now members.
KYJO owes much of its success today to former manager, the late Mike Taylor. Mike’s involvement with KYJO began when his daughter played tenor sax in the band many years ago. Like many parents, Mike continued to support the band after his daughter had moved on to university and stayed on to become its manager. As such, he was the driving force for over 15 years. KYJO appreciates the continuing support it receives from Mike’s family.