|2016 Kenny Wheeler Prizewinner Rob Luft (foreground)
with 2014 winner Misha Mullov-Abbado
Photo Credit: Kat Pfeiffer
The sixth winnner of the Kenny Wheeler Prize at the Royal Academy of Music is guitarist Rob Luft. The prize is given to “a musician graduating from the Royal Academy who can demonstrate excellence in both performance and composition,” and the main element is the opportunity to make a recording on Edition Records.
The citation from judge Evan Parker is as follows: ‘This year’s discussions were more intense than ever. The standard of musicianship and originality of creative vision that have become the hallmark of the Kenny Wheeler Prize winners were achieved by many of the entrants so that, inevitably, other considerations came in to help us make our final choice. Rob Luft convinced us that not only was he a great improvising guitarist, but his written material, arrangements and leadership seemed to inspire the other members of his group to play their best. Our final decision was unanimous.’
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His credits as sideman are already impressive. From the Press Release: “Rob is a member of Byron Wallen’s “Four Corners”, Martin Speake’s “Mafarowi” and Enzo Zirilli’s “Zirobop”. He received the Second Prize in The 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition. He also is the recipient of the 2015 Peter Whittingham Award as part of two collective ensembles – Patchwork Jazz Orchestra and jazz-rock quartet Big Bad Wolf. He appears on Liane Carroll’s latest release on Linn Records (Seaside – 2015), Brazilian singer Luna Cohen’s new album on the Catalonian independent label Temps Record (November Sky – 2016), and the debut album from Enzo Zirilli on Milanese label UR Records (Zirobop – 2015).” (end of quote)
Rob Luft first made his mark in this site in 2010 as a sixteen year-old. Frank Griffith was reviewing the NYJO 45th Anniversary gig, and wrote: “An engaging but somewhat complicated sounding piece in 21/8 time had players and audiences grasping for their slide rules in haste while 16 year old whiz guitarist Rob Luft soloed fluidly throughout the piece as if it was a 4/4 blues.” (Full review)
2011 Josh Arcoleo
2012 Reuben Fowler
2013 Lauren Kinsella
2014 Misha Mullov-Abbado
2015 Ralph Wyld
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