Gary Crosby

Gary Crosby

Tomorrow's Warriors / Nu Civilisation Orchestra

Co-Founder & Artistic Director, Tomorrow’s Warriors Musician, Creative Producer, Educator

Double bassist Gary Crosby was a founding member of Jazz Warriors and is the founder/leader of multi award-winning bands, Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop and Jazz Jamaica. Awards include an OBE for Services to Music. He co-founded the award-winning Tomorrow’s Warriors and the independent jazz label Dune Records, focusing on black jazz talent, female musicians and those facing socio-economic barriers to pursuing a career in the music industry.

Where are you based?

I’m based in North West London. We live in Harrow, which used to be Middlesex, but it’s now part of Greater London. The program, Tomorrows’ Warriors, is based at Southbank Centre, at the Royal Festival Hall also in London, England.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I play the double Bass and I am the co-founder and Artistic Director of Tomorrow’s Warriors, a talent development organisation specialising in supporting the next generation of jazz musicians. I am also an important part of Tomorrow’s Warriors’ Emerging Artist Development Programme. At Tomorrow’s Warriors, we are devising and producing high-quality, inspirational development programmes and creative performance opportunities for new, emerging and established artists and music leaders.

What are you listening to?

Right now, Duke Ellington – The Queen’s Suite. Also Charles Mingus, we just celebrated his birthday, he would have been 100 on the 22nd of April, my band played the entirety of one of his last albums, Moves. I invited some of the youngsters down as well, to create some sort of chaos and it worked. You kind of need the younger people to create that kind of chaotic energy, but it’s good energy.

How do you discover new music?

Word of mouth. Working with Tomorrow’s Warriors. Those slightly older musicians who come and do some gigs with me, it’s usually those guys that I get the information from, about new music, those new players that I should listen to. Mostly I’m listening to music that I used to listen to when I was a teenager, or in my early 20s. Duke Ellington and yeah, John Coltrane and Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. I’m still trying to learn that stuff. But also sometimes on YouTube, I discover something new.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I do have a turntable and a stereo system and there’s some vinyl in the house. Mostly I use my good friend, Mr. iPhone, and whatever applications there are for music. I also take my CDs and download them onto the computer, then put the music on the iPhone. Of course, around the house, there is also the trusty old acoustic piano and double bass.

“You might as well just go and buy the CD, buy the album, and then listen to it undisturbed.”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

The Stereo. Sometimes when it’s quiet and nobody’s in the house possibly, or on a holiday weekend, I’ll crank it up a bit. It’s a fairly good stereo. Around the house, I will also plug the iPhone into some speakers I have.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

The musicians in the program used to send a lot of pre-mix tapes and things like that, and ask for advice. CDs are very rare now amongst youngsters, they will send it as a link on WeTransfer or something like that.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

If you are not on a premium plan you get adverts now and again, they come in just as Charles Mingus is about to do a solo but that’s a small price to pay if you’re using it for study. If you’re listening to music for pleasure, then it can be a pain in the ass. You might as well just go and buy the CD, buy the album, and then listen to it undisturbed.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I use this strange technique called, “if it was that good. I’ll remember it”.

There have been a couple of times where I’ve had to phone people, so they could remind me about a piece of music.

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Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Usually, in conversation, my job is to make the musicians aware of past players, the contributors to this music. I don’t try to force it on them, like “you have to listen to  Charlie Parker”.  I have other ways of getting them to listen and engage with that music, I try to be a bit more discreet. Then it is up to them to go on to play that music professionally. Each new generation that comes along will formulate their heroes.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Like I said earlier at this present moment, anything by Duke Ellington, anything he composed will enrich your ears and it will enrich your life. My favourite album at this present moment is an album called The New Orleans suite and also The Queen’s Suite. The ensemble I founded Nu Civilisation Orchestra will be presenting: Duke Ellington’s The Queen’s Suite on Friday, June 3rd 2022 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Southbank Centre, London. Get your tickets here. I’ll be on double bass.

As for some of the people in the Tomorrow’s Warriors program: a few bright lights to look out for are a young man called Xvngo (aka Deji Ijishakin) also Sultan Stevenson and Isabella Burnham. Some of the Tomorrow’s Warriors alumni include Denys Baptiste, Binker Golding, Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings, CHERISE, Sheila Maurice Gray, Shirley Tetteh, ESKA, and an old alumnus, Peter Edwards.

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