Crosscurrent Spotlight: Gary Crosby and Tomorrow’s Warriors

Band plays, Moses Boyd drum solo

WH: Jazz bassist and bandleader Gary Crosby OBE is Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Tomorrow’s Warriors, an organisation that has nurtured young jazz talent since 1991, including a host of Trinity Laban alumni who are now at the forefront of London’s thriving jazz scene.

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In recognition of Gary’s commitment to music education he has become the first ever jazz musician to receive the prestigious Queen’s Medal for Music, an award that he was personally presented with by The Queen at a special Audience at Buckingham Palace in July.

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Before this, Trinity Laban marked a 15-year friendship with Gary by awarding him an Honorary Fellowship. This award was celebrated in May with a specially curated evening of live music performed in his honour by an all-star ensemble of British jazz artists.

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I took my recording device to the celebration, which saw Trinity Laban’s Peacock Room packed to capacity with 130 guests spilling into the aisles, and I caught up with a few of the performers.

Band plays Blue Monk by Thelonius Monk

WH: I’m with pianist Peter Edwards.

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PE: When I first started playing with Tomorrow’s Warriors, I had like a regular job. And Gary was always really encouraging, but he was always like, “when are you going to leave this job and come and be a jazz musician? When are you going to …” – You know, he was on my case all the time. He was like, “you could do it! You could do it!”

And eventually he ground me down and then I said, “look, I’m going to do it. I’m going to be a musician. I’m going to study, I’m going to come to Trinity (Laban).”

What it was, was his encouragement was so gentle. He very much wanted to help us and give us confidence that we could make it; we could do well and come to institutions and hold our own. I’ll always thank him for that because it was at a time when I really needed it and he’s done that for so many people. And now I feel like I can do the same with the next group of Tomorrow’s Warriors coming up, some of whom probably don’t realise how good they are.

WH: Yeah!

Band plays

WH: I’m here with Sheila Maurice-Grey, trumpeter.

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SMG: Hi Gary! I must say, we all love you and we all really appreciate what you’ve done for us. One phrase I will always remember:

“The more you practise, the better you become and the better you become, the more gigs you have and the more gigs you have, the more money you make.”

Thank you, Gary.

WH: Yeah, that’s brilliant.

Band plays Equinox by John Coltrane

WH: Drummer Moses Boyd. Moses, what would you like to say to Gary?

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MB: Much love. Keep on keeping on. Thank you for your contributions to the world of music far beyond just the UK and London here. We all love you. Much love and respect. And yeah man, we have to visit the mountain soon. (Laughing) Peace.

Band plays, Moses Boyd drum solo

WH: Vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett

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CAB: Hi!

WH: – what would you like to say to Gary?

CAB: I’d just like to say thank you so much for everything that you’ve done for us, Gary. You were there for us and invested in us and now that we are blossoming and doing our own thing, we have to give you props. Thank you, Gary. You deserve all the praise.

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Band plays Caravan by Duke Ellington

The band:

Cherise Adams-Burnett (voice)
Camilla George (alto sax)
Alam Nathoo (tenor sax)
Axel Kaner-Lidstrom (trumpet)
Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet)
Rosie Turton (trombone)
Peter Edwards (piano)
Menelik Claffey (bass)
Moses Boyd (drums)

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