Tomorrow's Warriors

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Tomorrow's Warriors
Tomorrow's Warriors logo.jpg
Founded1991; 29 years ago (1991)
HeadquartersLondon, UK
Key people
Janine Irons MBE FRSA, Gary Crosby OBE
WebsiteTomorrow's Warriors

Tomorrow's Warriors is an innovative jazz music education and artist development organisation[1] that was co-founded in 1991 by Janine Irons MBE FRSA and Gary Crosby OBE, committed to increasing diversity across the arts through jazz,[2] with a special focus on those from the African diaspora and girls".[3] Crosby drew inspiration from having been a member of the Jazz Warriors, a London-based group of musicians that in the 1980s showcased many young Black British musicians who went on to achieve international success (among them Courtney Pine, Steve Williamson, Cleveland Watkiss, Phillip Bent, Orphy Robinson, as well as Crosby himself).[4] Tomorrow's Warriors, which has a multiracial make-up,[5] provides a platform for young musicians wishing to pursue a career in jazz, and aims "to inspire, foster and grow a vibrant community of artists, audiences and leaders who together will transform the lives of future generations by increasing opportunity, diversity and excellence in and through jazz."[6] Alumni of Tomorrow's Warriors have gone on to win several awards.

Irons and Crosby also initiated the Dune Records label, which draws on talent from Tomorrow's Warriors, including such graduates of the organisation as Denys Baptiste, J-Life and Soweto Kinch.[5][7]


Since its inception by Gary Crosby and Janine Irons in 1991, Tomorrow's Warriors has worked towards devising and producing inspirational programmes and performance opportunities for new and emerging musicians, at the same time as developing culturally diverse audiences, being considered to have "nurtured many of the UK's leading jazz performers via its award-winning jazz education and emerging artists programme" with Tomorrow's Warriors alumni winning more than 50 awards and achieving successful careers in the music industry.[8];

Over the years Tomorrow's Warriors' activities have included a regular jam session, formerly held weekly at The Jazz Café, then from 2004 at The Spice of Life in Soho, where it remained active until Summer 2010.[9] The company went on to become a weekend resident at the Southbank Centre in London.[3] The Tomorrow's Warriors' programme provides a wide variety of opportunities ranging from workshops and showcases for young musicians to concerts and tours for established professional bands and orchestras, partnering with a network of local, national and international arts organisations, as well as commercial producers, venues, promoters and festivals. Tomorrow's Warriors is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.[3]


Members of Tomorrow's Warriors, as well as participating in informal jam sessions, may go on to join one of the more formal ensembles, which include Tomorrow's Warriors StringTing,[10] Tomorrow's Warriors Female Collective,[11] a Junior Band (for young musicians aged between 11 and 15),[12] Tomorrow's Warriors Youth Orchestra,[13][14] and the flagship Nu Civilisation Orchestra.

Nu Civilisation Orchestra[edit]

In 2008, Tomorrow's Warriors established an orchestra initially to provide a platform for pianist/composer Peter Edwards – who was a participant in the young artist development programme[15] – to recreate Duke Ellington's rarely performed The Queen's Suite.[16][17][18] The orchestra was subsequently established as a permanent ensemble, under the musical direction of Edwards, called the Nu Civilisation Orchestra (NCO).[19]

Other major projects undertaken by the NCO include in 2013 a 50th-anniversary recreation of Charles Mingus's The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) at the Purcell Room,[20] about which London Jazz News wrote: "The ensemble was flawless. ...hard to imagine anyone in the packed Purcell room doubting that this was a moving, breathing work. The recording remains a wonder, but recreated live the music seemed fresh as ever and more vividly coloured, more intense. The result was like getting up close to a great painting you have only seen in reproduction: you get a fresh sense of why it is a masterpiece. I really hope it can be heard more widely."[21] More recently the NCO performed a live soundtrack to John Akomfrah's 2013 film The Stuart Hall Project,[22] and on International Women's Day 2017 played a concert of songs (featuring Lisa Hannigan, Sabrina Mahfouz and Eska) from Joni Mitchell's classic 1976 album Hejira, at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Women of the World Festival.[23][24]

In April 2017 it was announced that the NCO had secured a new residency at Rich Mix in east London.[25]

Other initiatives[edit]

In 2016, Tomorrow's Warriors announced a partnership with Jazz House Kids in Montclair, New Jersey, through which four young people from the Tomorrow's Warriors Young Artist Development Programme have been given scholarships to take part in the Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop at Montclair State University.[26]

In March 2017, Tomorrow's Warriors launched a new music education initiative, The Jazz Ticket, to mark the centenary of the birth of six iconic jazz figures: composer Tadd Dameron, vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Thelonious Monk, drummer Buddy Rich and percussionist Mongo Santamaria.[27][28] As reported by Jazz FM, "'The Jazz Ticket' will be delivered in 54 schools in Southampton, Luton, Leicestershire, Manchester, Gateshead, Brighton, Bristol, Hull and London, and engage almost 600 young people as performers and many more as audience members."[29]

From 30 May to 3 June 2017, Tomorrow's Warriors was in residence at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton (BCA), delivering performances and workshops alongside the BCA's Black Sound exhibition.[30][31]


In 2017 Tomorrow's Warriors won the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Jazz Education, and further awards went to alumni: Nérija, an all-female ensemble developed from Tomorrow's Warriors' Female Collective, won Best Newcomer, while Shabaka Hutchings was Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year.[1] Across the categories 14 alumni were shortlisted.[32]

Tomorrow's Warriors alumni have also been well represented at the Jazz FM Awards.[33] In 2019, some 19 of the 39 nominees for awards were former Tomorrow's Warriors; JazzWise reported that at the presentation ceremony "act after act cites the Tomorrow's Warriors organisation as a crucial factor in their musical development."[34]


Graduates of Tomorrow's Warriors development programmes who have gone on to pursue successful careers include:[35][33]


  1. ^ a b Peter Quinn, "2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: the votes are in", The Arts Desk, 12 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Tomorrow's Warriors at The Jazz Ticket". The Jazz Ticket.
  3. ^ a b c "About", Tomorrow's Warriors website.
  4. ^ "Tomorrow's Warriors", The Real Histories Directory.
  5. ^ a b John Murph, "Do Your Own Thing: The Dune Label", JazzTimes, March 2004.
  6. ^ Our Vision and Mission", Tomorrow's Warriors.
  7. ^ "Record label PR file: Dune Records", The Independent, 31 January 2007.
  8. ^ "Tomorrow's Warriors Jazz Jam", Rich Mix.
  9. ^ "Tomorrow's Warriors", Gary Crosby website.
  10. ^ "String Ting to play at Tomorrow’s Warriors Christmas showcase", Marlbank, 20 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Music For Youth 2014: Adrian Boult Hall, July 12", Classic FM.
  12. ^ "Tomorrow's Warriors Junior Band at Lewisham People's Day July 2013". YouTube.
  13. ^ "Young Artists Day: Tomorrow's Warriors Youth Orchestra", BBC Radio 3, 4 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Tomorrow’s Warriors takeover + Steve Williamson & Gary Crosby", Serious, 19 November 2016.
  15. ^ "About", Peter Edwards Music.
  16. ^ "Nu Civilisation Orchestra", Tomorrow's Warriors website.
  17. ^ "The Queen's Suite", British Films Directory, British Council.
  18. ^ Corine Dhondee, "The Queen's Suite – Background to the making of the documentary", 14 February 2010.
  19. ^ "Review: Nu Civilisation Orchestra", London Jazz News, 4 March 2012.
  20. ^ "Nu Civilisation Orchestra – A JOURNEY WITH THE GIANTS OF JAZZ", YouTube.
  21. ^ John Turney, "Review: Nu Civilisation Orchestra – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady at the Purcell Room (LJF)", London Jazz News, 25 November 2013.
  22. ^ "The Stuart Hall Project: Live. Peter Edwards and the NCO Ensemble Play the Music of Miles Davis", Rich Mix, 14 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Celebrating #IWD2017 with songs from Joni Mitchell’s HEJIRA", Nu Civilisation Orchestra, 6 March 2017.
  24. ^ Matilda Egere-Cooper, "Hejira, review: Magical tribute to a heroine", London Evening Standard, 9 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Nu Civilisation Orchestra gets London residency", Nu Civilisation Orchestra website, 4 April 2017.
  26. ^ "NEWS: Tomorrow’s Warriors announces partnership with Jazz House Kids (Montclair NJ)", London Jazz News, 2 August 2016.
  27. ^ "Just The Jazz Ticket: Tomorrow's Warriors Unveil New Music Education Project", Jazzwise, 9 March 2017.
  28. ^ "The Jazz Ticket: Nu Civilisation Orchestra marks 100 years of the birth of six Giants of Jazz", Nu Civilisation Orchestra, 16 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Tomorrow’s Warriors jazz workshop hits 54 schools", Jazz FM, 19 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Tomorrow’s Warriors takeover Black Cultural Archives 30 May-3 June", 22 May 2017.
  31. ^ Laura Burgoine, "Tomorrow’s Warriors’ summer jam session in Brixton", Weekender, 31 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Tomorrow’s Warriors + alumni shortlisted for six Parliamentary Jazz Awards!", Tomorrow's Warriors, 22 September 2017.
  33. ^ a b "Tomorrow’s Warriors Alumni Clean Up at the Jazz FM Awards", Tomorrow's Warriors, 2 May 2018.
  34. ^ Eddie Myer (13 May 2019). "Tomorrow's Warriors Legacy Real Winner at JazzFM Awards 2019". JazzWise. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  35. ^ Alumni, Tomorrow's Warriors.

External links[edit]