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London Jazz Awards- Winners

At last nights awards ceremony at the Pizza Express, Best Jazz Instrumentalist was won by pianist John Turville, and Best Jazz Vocalist shared between Norma Winstone (above) and Cleveland Watkiss.

Sarah Ellen Hughes writes:

It was a privilege to be at the London Jazz Awards last evening, at Pizza Express Jazz Club. A whole host of people were there – of course the calibre of musician on the shortlist meant that there was a plethora of talent present. The evening began with wine and pizza (and continued with wine and wine). About half of the club had been emptied of its tables, leaving room for mingling and chatting – a great atmosphere.

It wasn’t only the London Jazz Awards that were presented last night, but also the London New Poetry award. The shortlisters were announced, and then the winner – Carrie Etter for her work The Tethers – read something from her winning entry. The words were so deliciously woven that I found myself – to my surprise – moved and captivated.

There was a great feeling of community between two societies that don’t often mix, but have shared experiences and interests. Even so, the jazz community was certainly more vocal. The shortlist was announced, to degrees of applause for each candidate. It was the job of London Fringe director Greg Tallent (what a wonderful name!) to announce the nominees. Unfortunately for him, his list was incomplete, and he wasn’t familiar with all the names. It all worked out in the end- all the candidates were offered and suitably applauded.

Helen Mayhew stepped up to the stage to present the jazz awards. The instrumental award went to John Turville, particularly in reference to his album Midas. The vocal award was split between two singers – apparently the judges had such a hard time separating these two, that it was decided there should be two vocal awards this year. They were Cleveland Watkiss, and Norma Winstone.

It’s often very difficult to decide on who is a better singer, or who is your favourite, because even though the instrument is the same, the way two people sing can be worlds apart from each other – in effect, two totally different instruments.

A jam session ensued, during which John took to the stage along with Norma and Cleveland, finishing Blue Monk with an epic last note that they clearly didn’t want to end! Other nominees including Nia Lynn, Fini Bearman, Derek Nash, Gary Husband, Patrick Bettison performed, as did panel members Barry Green, Asaf Sirkis and Mark Hodgson. An enormous treat.

A notable performance was an improvised duet between Gary Husband (drums) and JazzCotech dancer Perry Louis (feet). Unfortunately the carpeted stage meant that it didn’t quite have the impact it should have.

It’s only a shame that not everyone could be awarded last night, because each jazz musician who was nominated brings something particular, individual and special to this diverse UK jazz scene.

The London Jazz Awards are presented each year as part of the London Festival Fringe. The Jazz Awards have been organized by the Global Music Foundation .

http://www.londonfestivalfringe.com/

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7 replies »

  1. Yet another set of jazz awards that is kept under wraps! Who selects, what are the criteria, who votes, how do they vote….lets get some transparency for these events….otherwise they become totally meaningless….

  2. who picks the musicians/singers, the panel?? judging by the musicians on the panel compared to the list of nominees, it appears like a lot of back scratching is going on, rather than really representing the UK jazz scene…. how unfortunate.

  3. Sadly billsax I think you are correct in your assumption that ther is alot of internal backscratching going on…..I remain unimpressed by the historical secrecy in the running of these awards, again ~I repeat it renders then meaningless as opposed to something to aspire to and be proud of!

  4. Please excuse this long response. I hope by giving some background to these and other Jazz Awards, I can reassure Anonymous and billsax that they are put together by people who care about UK jazz, and that a lot of time and expertise are given by panellists who receive nothing in return.

    The longest running jazz awards are the British Jazz Awards and they are put together by Big Bear Music in Birmingham. I don't know too much about these, but they did publish a list of their panellists on their website for the 2007 awards – http://www.bigbearmusic.com/mpbja/nominationpanel.html. Nominations it seems come from 'key players in the jazz scene'. Sebastian might be better placed to give some insights into the processes for these awards, as he was named as a panellist in that year at least.

    The BBC Jazz Awards, which were sadly discontinued in 2009 after eight years with little in the way of explanation, were certainly the highest profile UK jazz award ceremony. Five of the categories were voted for by 'the public' while the remaining half a dozen or so were chosen by a 'panel of over 200 top UK jazz industry figures'. The terms and conditions for 2008 were published here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/jazzawards2008/termsandconditions/

    The Parliamentary Jazz Awards, which have run since 2005, also don't publish the names of the panel. This is not for sinister reasons, but rather to prevent potential lobbying. Nominations come in again from the public; the panel (of around 15 industry figures) then shortlist from the hundreds of nominees and these then go to the Parliamentary Jazz Group (APPJAG), who decide on the winners. No-one from the short-listing panel attends the Parliametary group and vice versa, so there are effectively three separate stages to the process. More details here – http://www.jazzservices.org.uk/OurServices/APPJAGAwards2010/tabid/204/Default.aspx

    Finally, the London Jazz Awards were intended to be chosen by musicians for musicians. They bravely decided to publish the names of panellists and I was impressed that the list of nominees contained a large number of people who never usually make such lists. All the same, the process will certainly be finessed should the awards be repeated next year.

    The Parliamentary Jazz Awards certainly evolve and get honed each year as the organisers learn from each additional year's experience. The absolute priority behind these refinements is to ensure that they are fair, representative and transparent. I have sat in on some of these awards and I can promise that the discussions are serious and professional and always reflect a love and knowledge of the British jazz scene. I should point out as well that the panellists of the London Jazz Awards, the British Jazz Awards and the Parliamentary Jazz Awards do not feature the same 'industry figures', so the 50 or so people involved could surely not be said to constitute a 'clique', this is not to mention the 200 or so contributors to the BBC jazz awards.

    It is probably impossible to conjure up an Awards event in any area of life which will satisfy everybody. Whether we're talking about the Oscars, Mercury Prize, BBC Sports Personality, or jazz awards, they will always be imperfect and unavoidably some subjectivity will creep into the process.

    However, I do think they are an important part of the jazz scene and provide musicians in particular with some welcome recognition and publicity in an industry where many scarcely earn a minimum wage.

  5. Joe Paice of Jazz Services has written by email:

    I hope by giving some background to these and other Jazz Awards, I can hopefully reassure Anonymous and billsax that they are put together by people who care about UK jazz and a lot of time and expertise are given by panellists who receive nothing in return.

    The longest running jazz awards are the British Jazz Awards and they are put together by Big Bear Music in Birmingham. I don't know too much about these, but they do publish a list of their panellists on their website for the 2007 awards –

    http://www.bigbearmusic.com/mpbja/nominationpanel.html.

    Nominations it seems come from 'key players in the jazz scene'. Sebastian might be better placed to give some insights into the processes as he is named as panellist in that year at least.

    The BBC Jazz Awards, which were sadly discontinued in 2009 after eight years with little in the way of explanation, were certainly the highest profile UK jazz award ceremony. Five of the categories were voted for by 'the public' while the remaining half a dozen or so were chosen by a 'panel of over 200 top UK jazz industry figures'. The terms and conditions for 2008 were published –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/jazzawards2008/termsandconditions/

    The Parliamentary Jazz Awards, which have run since 2005, also don't publish the names of the panel. This is not for sinister reasons, but rather to prevent potential lobbying.

    Nominations come in again from the public; the panel (of around 15 industry figures) then shortlist from the hundreds of nominees and these then go to the Parliamentary Jazz Group (APPJAG), who decide on the winners. No-one from the short-listing panel attends the Parliametary group and vice versa, so there are effectively three separate stages to the process. More details –

    http://www.jazzservices.org.uk/OurServices/APPJAGAwards2010/tabid/204/Default.aspx

    Finally, the London Jazz Awards were intended to be chosen by musicians for musicians. They bravely decided to publish the names of panellists and I was impressed that the list of nominees contained a large number of people who never usually make such lists. All the same, the process will certainly be finessed should the awards be repeated next year.

    The Parliamentary Jazz Awards, for example, get honed each year as the organisers learn from each additional year's experience. The absolute priority behind these refinements is to ensure that they are fair, representative and transparent.

    As I said, I have sat in on some of these awards and I can promise that the discussions are serious and professional and always reflect a love and knowledge of the British jazz scene.

    I should point out as well that the panellists of the London Jazz Awards, the British Jazz Awards and the Parliamentary Jazz Awards do not feature the same 'industry figures', so the 50 or so people involved could surely not be said to constitute a 'clique', this is not to mention the 200 or so contributors to the BBC jazz awards.

    There never has been and there never will be an awards in any area of life which will satisfy everybody. Awards, whether we're talking about the Oscars, Mercury Prize, BBC Sports Personality, etc will always be imperfect and unavoidably some subjectivity will creep into the process.

    I certainly would not expect everybody to agree with all the selections made in any awards event, but that is surely something to celebrate – that I do think they are important part of the jazz scene and provide musicians in particular with some welcome recognition and publicity in an industry where many scarcely earn a minimum wage.

  6. Joe, that is a really helpful guide to the UK awards. Thank you.

    It is also timely, when taken with some interesting comments this week around the Mercury Prize, particularly on the Guardian's podcast, suggesting a Mercury Jazz Prize would be a good spin-off.

    The reviewer there went beyond the normal carping that jazz was out of place, and acknowledged that the jazz nomination each year in the Mercury Prize did have positive value for the artist concerned. That has to be a good thing.

    That's the way, deep down, that I see it. The coverage is the point. Let more coverage help all the boats to rise. This is the most dynamic period in British jazz for 50 years. That needs to be said again and again, until people get it.

    As regards the British jazz Awards, all I have done with has been to submit some nominations online.

    I have not had any involvement in the selection process. Perhaps the organizers will take the opportunity to defend their methods. The floor is open.

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