PREVIEW: Eddie Harvey Award for Jazz Arrangement Final (Cafe Posk, 6th November)

Eddie Harvey (1925-2012)

The first run of the Eddie Harvey Award for jazz arrangement has gone through the stage of submitting the works. The selection of the finalists is under way, and the next stage will be the final, at Cafe Posk on Thursday 6th November. Three finalists’ new works will be played by NYJO on the evening, when the winner will also be chosen.

The organizers tell us that the finalists’ names are not due be revealed until the night. It will be intriguing to see if their secret holds until then. 

In the meantime Peggy Hannington, Eddie Harvey’s widow, previews the evening for us:


During Eddie Harvey‘s time in music education – about 40 years of it – schools switched on and off taking music seriously. If anything has come out of the jazz element of music education it is learning to use your ears and also how music works so improvisations are coherent and relate to the chords they’re based on.  In the 1980s and 1990s Eddie used to take his quartet round to do jazz in the classroom and no doubt regaled the children with humorous anecdotes while engaging them in the enjoyment of creating their own musical questions and answers, just as Bach had done in his own music 300 years earlier. Also brought to prominence by Bach, although featuring in earlier church vocalisations, counterpoint makes music of the horizontal lines of notes as well as the vertical underlying chords.  You can have just two voices moving together, or three or four.  Jazz musicians use counterpoint in their improvisations, for example the Gerry Mulligan quartet of a few decades ago.

Eddie always advocated reading about and listening to what Bach did with counterpoint.  In the classical genre it followed strict harmonic rules but the counterpoint used in jazz arrangement and improvisation doesn’t follow the same stringent regime.  So long as you stay with the chord tones, generally speaking,  anything goes; and the rhythms can be more exotic, and the counterpoint shared between different instruments.  For the arranger, counterpoint offers interesting possibilities, one tool among a host of others.

Finding some good arrangements is what we’re about at the Presentation Concert.  What is judged to be the best arrangement will earn the arranger a cheque for £2,000.  Theirs and the pieces of two runners up will be played at the Concert which will feature the National Youth Jazz Orchestra playing some of Eddie’s arrangements too, including Phil DeGreg, the acclaimed American pianist who will be visiting, playing Hotel DeGreg with them.


LINKS: Eddie Harvey Award website (needs updating)

Announcement of the Eddie Harvey Award 

Report of the celebrating Eddie Harvey concerts in 2013

RIP Eddie Harvey from 2012 – with links to obituaries and interviews

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