The father of Soul, Ray Charles changed the course of music history with his pioneering combination of gospel, jazz, and R&B. Nicknamed ‘the Genius’, he would become one of the most recognisable artists of the 20th century, his hoarse voice and passionate performances made him an icon, celebrated across the globe. A prolific pianist, singer, and composer, Charles was also an important figure in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. His refusal to perform at racially segregated venues would lead to a life-ban from his home state of Georgia, who would later apologise and make his version of Georgia on My Mind the official state anthem.

In 2023, NYJO is touring a programme in celebration of the history and immeasurable talent of Ray Charles, to whom all jazz musicians and fans alike owe so much, featuring the brilliant singer, Tommy Blaize.


Guest Artist: Tommy Blaize

As lead singer of the BBC Strictly Come Dancing band, Tommy Blaize’s powerful yet sensitive performances have helped create some of the most memorable TV moments of recent times. Singing live to an audience of more than 12 million every week, his soulful voice is etched in the public consciousness.

Tommy began his singing career at the tender age of nine with The Blaize Brothers, alongside siblings Tony and Darrin, playing in clubs across the North-West of England in the 1970s. In a career spanning a remarkable 50 years, Tommy has gone on to work with some of the world’s most legendary and renowned artists, from Diana Ross to Queen, The Beach Boys, Amy Winehouse, Joe Cocker, and Stevie Wonder.

Him and his band are regulars on the London soul & blues scene, performing at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, Jazz Café, 606 Club, and Pizza Express Live. Tommy also appears regularly as a guest artist at special events at Royal Albert Hall, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night.


Set List

Alexander’s Ragtime Band
Let The Good Times Roll
Unchain My Heart
I Got A Woman
Hit The Road Jack
The Chicken
Rain or Shine
What I Say
Compared to What
Night Time Is The Right Time
Hallelujah! I Love Her So
Drown In My Own Tears
I Believe In My Soul
Mess Around
Shake A Tail Feather


The Band

Alto Saxophone: Asha Parkinson
Alto Saxophone: Alex Dani
Tenor Saxophone: Joe Pickering
Tenor Saxophone: Mattie Lambert
Baritone Saxophone: Lydia Cochrane
Trumpet 1: Ewan Parkin
Trumpet 2: Cameron Lockett
Trumpet 3: Ed Hogben
Trumpet 4: Gabriel Taylor
Trombone 1: Connor Martin
Trombone 2: James Wade-Sired
Trombone 3: Cat Eden
Trombone 4: Richard Jones
Guitar: Julien Durand
Piano: Andrew Chen
Bass: Fergus Quill
Drums: Georgia Ayew
Vox: Eliana Veinberga
Vox: Alice Milburn


About NYJO

NYJO exists to empower young jazz musicians and inspire audiences across the UK, through engaging participation projects and impactful live performances. NYJO has grown from a single jazz orchestra to a multifaceted organisation that is committed to supporting and developing musicians of all styles and standards. Whether you want to become the next emerging artist or simply play for fun – they’re here for it.