YEAR-END LISTS (2) : Musicians under 35

The NYJO Academy Big Band, directed by Sebastiaan De Krom
at Rich Mix during the EFG London Jazz Festival.
Photo credit Melody McLaren

In this, the second of our year-end lists, writers pick out musicians under the age of 35 who have made a big impression in 2015:


In November we enjoyed a delightful Sunday at Rich Mix with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra celebrating 50 years during EFG London Jazz Festival. The programme included a workshop and jam led by the inspirational Mark Armstrong, followed by NYJO Academy ensemble performances led by Phil Meadows, Gemma Buckenham and Sebastiaan De Krom. The young musicians, and the audience, lit up the hall with such enthusiasm that we’d like to see this event format taken on the road in 2016 so as many music lovers as possible can enjoy it. The future of British jazz is clearly in great hands (Melody McLaren).

Kit Downes (twice)

He shone wherever I heard him this year: in duet with Lucy Railton, in his latest trio The Enemy, and, perhaps most enjoyably of all, in Julian Arguelles’ Tetra, where he has forged a connection with the leader,s music that helps make this a special quartet. (Jon Turney)

 I have enjoyed all the projects Kit Downes has been involved with in the last year: Troyka, In Bed With, Time Is A Blind Guide, Tricko and the new trio The Enemy. (Tony Dudley-Evans)

Cellist Katrine Schiøtt and saxophonist Mette Henriette at Tampere Jazz Hapening 2015
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Mette Henriette (from Norway) and Mette Rasmussen (from Denmark but based in Trondheim, Norway)

The young Norwegian saxophonist Mette Henriette impressed me greatly at the Nordic Young Comets launch in Tampere and I also loved her double CD on ECM.  Another Mette, improvising saxophonist Mette Rasmussen, played a really strong set in duo with drummer Chris Corsano at Café Oto in July. (Tony Dudley-Evans)

Amy Roberts. 

Although Amy has been ‘on the scene’ for a couple of years or so, the first opportunity I have had to see her was on the 11th Dec. at the Under Ground Theatre in Eastbourne. As part of the Amy Roberts and Richard Exall Quintet her competence on three instruments (sax, clarinet, flute) was amazing, as is her apparent enjoyment of the music she is playing. Definitely one to watch.(Brian O’Connor) –

Adam King/ James Gardiner Bateman/ Ross Stanley

– Bassist Adam King- been making a mark for years but suffered setbacks with RSI injury. At last noticed by Worshipful Company Awards
– James Gardiner-Bateman  at last another alto player with big biting  sound and flowing ideas , sometimes outside the box .
– Ross Stanley piano/organ: is there any band that he doesn’t play with? THE go to     piano/organistof the last three years  (Brian Blain)

Mark Pringle 

This Birmingham Conservatoire-trained pianist and composer released and performed his very impressive Parisian suite A Moveable Feast -(INTERVIEW) – in 2015. Now he is continuing his studies in Berlin and Copenhagen. A man to watch. (Peter Bacon)

…and others from Birmingham Conservatoire

Three young graduates or final year students from the Birmingham Conservatoire jazz course have shown huge potential, they are: guitarist Ben Lee, pianist Elliott Sansom and pianist Andy Bunting, leader of the Trope band.(Tony Dudley-Evans)

Emily Wright

Emily Wright (with Moonlight Saving Time)

Having followed the progress of Bristol-based BBC Introducing artists Moonlight Saving Time, they released their outstanding debut album – Meeting at Night – in October, and I was privileged to see them, for a second time, performing live. (CD REVIEW) Here is a quintet who successfully meld beautiful, original, written/improvised instrumental jazz with the charismatic voice and presence (as well as compositional prowess) of Emily Wright; her particularly elegant, expressive delivery echoing something of the mystique and individuality of the great jazz singers. I sincerely hope they continue on their impressive, upward journey. (Adrian Pallant)

Verneri Pohjola

The first I heard of the Finnish trumpeter was his 2015 release Bullhorn, a fine record, sounding simple and complex at the same time. (Patrick Hadfield)

Konrad Wisniewski and Euan Stevenson

They play together in their New Focus Quartet, as well as individually in different bands, create engaging, subtle modern music. And they’re great live….And whilst I’m on about New Focus, drummer Alyn Cosker remains a powerful driving force in Scottish jazz. The man behind the drums with SNJO and many other bands is one of the most exciting drummers around.(Patrick Hadfield)

Jean Toussaint’s Young Lions

I was knocked out by Jean Toussaint’s Young Lions when they played Brilliant Corners in July. (REVIEW) Accompanying the sax master were trumpeter Mark Kavuma, Daniel Casimir on bass, drummer Femi Koleoso and pianist Ashley Henry. Their confidence, technical prowess and group dynamics were outstanding – international quality; as a group and individually they impressed with assurance, invention and respect in re-imagining Art Blakey’s Roots and Herbs. They just hit that balance to make the whole set shift and glide beautifully. Anna B Savage, an emerging singer/songwriter, impressed greatly with her fresh, raw, and personal style. Her Cafe Oto set in June, which I saw, is on Bandcamp. (Geoff Winston)

Conor Chaplin


We are blessed with a great new generation of bassists, worthy followers of the likes of Paul Rogers, John Edwards & Steve Watts. To pick two under 35 is hard. Olie Brice (34): imaginative and adventurous. And, from the newest group,  Conor Chaplin: his ability to ground a band at such a young age is awesome. (Oliver Weindling).

Kaja Draksler

On a cold wet evening at Austria’s Inntoene Jazz Festival, a slight figure sat at the piano, dwarfed by the cavernous barn, where the audience had just heard a 14-piece band. How could she hold their attention? By her complete focus- and compelling individual style. There were shades of Monk and stride piano, along with Messiaen, folk influences from her native Slovenia and Cecil Taylor’s free jazz. INTERVIEW (Alison Bentley)

Giacomo Smith 

Giacomo Smith, and indeed all his colleagues in the Kansas Smitty’s ventures. Outstanding playing, even more outstanding writing and arranging from the tightly-woven collective that effortlessly brings pre-war classic jazz into post-hipster Hackney.  Going from strength to strength, and rightly so.  First CD review. (Mark McKergow)

Categories: miscellaneous

1 reply »

  1. Seb, sorry, I missed the deadline for this. I would add that Misha Mullov-Abbado deserves a mention in this category. His debut album Ansonia has plenty on it to suggest he's got much to offer over the coming years.

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