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Find out how this leading jazz guitarist came to work with Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra

Hello! My name is Steve Banks. I’m a guitarist, composer and educator.


I heard about the Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra (WYJO) through the collaborations with wonderful UK musicians including Nikki Iles, Jason Rebello and Tim Garland. I was also teaching and preparing the guitarists behind the scenes! To add to that, I’ve known Mike Daniels for several years through performing the extraordinary Soulful Messiah by Quincy Jones and The Sacred Concert by Duke Ellington at Wiltshire Music Centre.


WYJO offer a unique opportunity in the area for young musicians to connect with leading UK musicians and their music and experience performing as part of a jazz orchestra. During this year, I’ve been collaborating with Jonathan Silk to arrange my album Emboldened for jazz orchestra and WYJO were enthusiastic to present this music for the first time. I’ve also been mentoring Thomas Sladden and Nathaniel Evans, two senior members of WYJO, in composition. After performing their music at St George’s in Bristol supported by my quintet as part of a sold out concert in July, Jonathan and I have been supporting Thomas (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and Nathaniel (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) to arrange their compositions for jazz orchestra. This concert has also provided the opportunity to present the premiere performance of these arrangements. Their music is very special and their achievements reflect consistent focussed effort and creativity. These are certainly two musicians to watch out for in the future!


I composed the Emboldened suite during lockdown in 2021 to reflect the positive response of individuals and communities to adversity. At that time, this reflected not only the Covid-19 pandemic, but also #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. Ultimately, it is a celebration of strength and compassion within the human spirit and finds relevance in all times. The suite includes three movements; Fear, Belief and Unity. Jonathan’s arrangements have significantly expanded the depth and power of the music and its underlying themes with his unique musicianship and I’m so excited to hear the music come to life! In March 2024, we will be performing these new arrangements alongside three more of my compositions with University of Birmingham Jazz Orchestra including choir at CBSO and plan to record with leading UK musicians later in the year.

See Steve Banks with WYJO on Sun 26 Nov at 3pm