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"Whisper it. Good Days deserves to win the Mercury Prize." (The Sun)

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The Sun newspaper has declared : “Whisper it  […] Good Days deserves to win [the Mercury Prize].”

And then there’s a piece by Tim Woodall in the Independent’s arts blog this week which gave one reason why it might be a good thing if – just for once – the jazz album could win:

“ A Mercury nomination […] is extremely valuable for a jazz artist.“We immediately attracted bigger audiences,” says bandleader and cellist Ben Davis. “We produced another album off the back of it and played a lot of gigs. That led to the creation of more music, which is what it’s all about.”

Think about it. If that’s what a nomination can do, think what a difference a win might make. Rather than rubber-stamping an existing success, a bold decision could make a sustainable career. Which got me thinking….maybe there are other reasons too:

1) THE MERCURY SAY THE CONCEPT OF A “TOKEN JAZZ PERSON” IS PLAIN WRONG

Caspar Llewellyn Smith of the Observer/ Guardian says:

“[Gwilym]’s problem is that he is the token jazz person this year, there is always the token jazz person, and you feel that the token jazz person will never win.”

When I read that I wrote to the Mercury people. The answer came back that the idea that the token jazz person can never win is just plain wrong.

They wrote to me: “The Barclaycard Mercury Prize solely exists to promote and champion music in the UK […] All albums are viewed and treated equally as part of the judging process – there are no categories or ‘token’ artists.”

2) IF THAT’S TRUE, ER, PROVE IT
It would definitely be a breath of fresh air
3) IT’S A HIGHLY RECOMMENDABLE ALBUM.
Llewellyn Smith again

Before mentioning the token jazz idea, he said: “Gwilym is a fantastic talent. Been around for some time although I think he’s only about 30. This is a solo album, and you can see why the comparisons that have been made with the likes of Keith Jarrett are valid. Technically he is incredibly gifted and it is a completely involving record at the same time. “

So where’s the problem?

4) THE BOOKIES’ FAVOURITE HAS WON BEFORE
The odds on PJ Harvey are getting shorter all the time. So, more same-old?

5) WOULD THERE BE ANY ROCK AND ROLL WITHOUT JAZZ?

Where did rock music come from? As Muddy Waters sang: “The blues had a baby and they named the baby Rock & Roll.”

Or As an American rapper said :

“Without rock and roll you wouldn’t have hip hop, and without the blues you wouldn’t have rock and roll, without jazz you wouldn’t have the blues.”

Guardian source quoted / Independent source quoted

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4 replies »

  1. Actually I think that having a token jazz cd in the Mercury is a bloody good idea. It means that at least one jazz artist/label will make some money for a change, and the Mercury judges have over the years shown a nice eclectic set of choices.
    A winner? that would be nice, but not at the expense of an annual token please!

  2. What's got into the Independent? First a review of Keith Jarrett, then a positive article about Gwilym [and another honorable mention for Jarrett].

    All of the 'token jazz albums' I can remember being nominated would have been worthy winners and this year's is no exception. But the Mercury judging process is a strange and mystical thing and they don't always [ever?] get it right. It often seems that the judges are trying too hard to show that they're 'with it' and 'groovy' as young people say.

    Don't forget – a Mercury win isn't always a stepping stone to a glittering career of glamour and riches. Step forward Speech thingy [and Anthony and the Johnsons: and more].

  3. jazz you wouldn’t have the blues“…? I think Mr Epic may have got his chronology a bit back to front on that one… 😉

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