Preview  ⁄  Arts & culture

Jambassadors feature in pop-up Jazz Toast at Barnfield Theatre

Musical director Roz Harding invites us to join an Exeter College Music Academy student collective in a one-night-only experimental exploration of in-the-moment improvisation.

Exeter college   Barnfield theatre  

Jazz is a live music, to be spoken and given away on that day. As Max Roach said, “It comes out of a communal experience. We take our respective instruments and collectively create a thing of beauty.” The Jambassadors, an Exeter College Music Academy student ensemble, channel this spirit to make music together that sounds like them and all the things they are.

On Thursday 6 June at Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre The Jambassadors will be digging deep into improvisation to explore modern jazz-rooted music in varying experimental shapes and forms. They will be topping the fifth slice of Jazz Toast, which first popped-up in 2014 as a performance jam at an established Exeter College student gig and has since evolved into an independent celebration of youth music at its most creative and dynamic.

The Jambassadors by Gabe Riedlinger The Jambassadors by Gabe Riedlinger

Playing live is vital for students of music to find their sounds and take their improvisation to a level which only happens with an audience in the room. At Jazz Toast we treat any sheets of music we have as pages of ideas: starting places to be treasured or ignored. Our setlist of textures and ideas includes music by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Melt Yourself Down alongside original student compositions and freely experimental pieces set to the theme of dreams.

We will discover how the music unfolds on the night. We have used our rehearsals to forge a group who can create music together no matter what happens (or doesn’t). Once it begins, we are off!

There will be surprises for the band as I announce previously unseen improvisation directives. There will be surprises from the band as student compositions are aired. And there will be surprises for the audience as everyone in the Clifford Room collectively creates our musical environment. 

These student musicians are only together for a single academic year. Listening to them pour their personalities into improvised music is inspiring and life-affirming. And when one member of the band unexpectedly dresses up as a horse with a hat for the photo shoot, and lengthy discussions take place over whether cushions and tap shoes are needed for the gig, it becomes clear that this space for free self-expression is working its magic.

As Charlie Haden said, “I want them to come away discovering the music inside them. And not thinking about themselves as jazz musicians, but thinking about themselves as good human beings, striving to be a great person.” Jambassadors performances are an exciting celebration of creativity where music meets humanity and anything can happen.


Jazz Toast featuring The Jambassadors is at 7.30pm on Thursday 6 June 2019 in the Clifford Room at Barnfield Theatre. Tickets cost £5 (£3 students/concessions), free to under 18s (booking still required).

All proceeds to Nightstop, a charity that prevents homelessness among young people through community hosting. Nightstop Devon is delivered by Julian House.


 is a jazz saxophonist who teaches at Exeter College where she also leads the Jazz Project and Jambassadors.


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