The finalists on the 2011 Worshippful Company of Musicians Young Jazz Musician competiton, held on Septeber 25th at Pizza Express Dean Street were: Josh Arcoleo (saxophone), Freddie Gavita (trumpet), Dave Hamblett (drums), Adam King (bass), Matt Robinson (piano) and competiton winner Lewis Wright (vibraphone).
The six musicians, according to a possibly unique competition format, play the gig as a band, working collaboratively together, and the audience votes for a “Man of the Match.” All six contestants distinguished themselves for blending, listening, and musicianly virtues which have nothing to do with competition. I sensed quite a bit of support in the room for Freddie Gavita and Adam King as well as for Lewis Wright, and certainly one of the high-points of the night was a Freddie Gavita composition Night Watchman.
The first ever winner of the competion Tina May sang an opening short set with Nikki Iles, and also joined the band for a couple of numbers. The over-riding impression was of music of high quality being delivered with great care. The whole occasion – inevitably perhaps – has a respectful, buttoned vibe. I look forward to occasions when any of these six fine craftsmen – as I am sure they all can…- will take the opportunity to obey Mingus’ exhortation to “act crazy. That said, the standards of musicianship rise every year, and this was a band without a weak link.