Georgia Mancio (L) and Nigel Price (centre) both received multiple nominations
In their trio with Julie Walkington (R) at Love Supreme 2014
Photo credit and © Andy Sheppard / Lowlightphoto.co.uk

Welcome to the first of London Jazz News’ four annual lists, naming and proclaiming the musicians and bands who have somehow left their mark this year, with contributions from a wide range of jazz people: musicians, writers, promoters from the UK, France, Germany, and South Africa. The other three, which will be published either side of Christmas, will be ‘live memories’, ‘recorded memories’, and ‘wishes for 2017’. You can add your own nominations in the comments sections. These 2016 contributions have been compiled by Peter Bacon: 

Gopi Shravan: The dep drummer in Jyotsna Srikanth’s Bangalore Dreams made the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh’s kit sing and sang Konnakol with gobsmacking musicality. – Rob Adams

Snowpoet: A band of jazz musicians redefining the possibilities of improvisation and jazz as method in music with broad appeal. (album launch review here) – Alya Al-Sultani

Mandla Mlangeni: A succession of creative projects (including collaborations with the UK’s Shabaka Hutchings) that make gorgeous music and engage intelligently with the ideas and emotions of today’s South Africa. – Gwen Ansell

Gwilym Simcock at Lichfield
Photo credit: John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk

Gwilym Simcock: A world tour and recording as part of Pat Metheny’s quartet, a third Impossible Gentlemen album and tour (album launch review here), releasing his arrangements of King Crimson for saxophone quartet, writing a suite inspired by a Welsh rainforest and a BBC Radio 3 Composer Of The Week appearance behind him in 2016 alone, as a player and composer Gwilym just keeps on searching higher and getting better – Peter Bacon

Moon Hooch: Scorching live, with techno beats on drum kit and two saxes playing speedy classical arpeggios and wild free jazz (live review here). – Alison Bentley

Ed Jones: Twice this year – at 606 with Killer Shrimp (Review here) and low-key pub gig – from someone with his ‘out’ image, the most imaginative and exciting evenings of song book and jazz standards I have heard in years. – Brian Blain

Georgia Mancio: For maintaining a consistently high musical quality in a variety of different environments (Review here) – John Blandford

Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: The group creates trustful togetherness based on every musician’s extraordinary individual capacities and special knack fully in service of the shaping and shining of the greater whole, stimulated and balanced by the cheerful, truthful and firm guidance of Eve Risser (Report here). – Henning Bolte

Julian Arguelles: Whether with small or big bands an exhilarating live experience and albums released in late 2015 reverberated throughout 2016. – Mike Collins

Shabaka Hutchings: It’s fantastic to see Shabaka (and with him, the powerhouse of Theon Cross) receive recognition around the globe. – George Crowley

Johnny Hunter: The hotly tipped Manchester drummer and bandleader’s diverse compositional style shone on an eclectic debut quartet album While We Still Can (Feature here) succeeded by assured concert performances at the Efpi festival and Manchester Jazz Festival. – AJ Dehany

José James. Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

José James: JJ is a great master of soulfully jazz moments – and still not known enough. – Ralf Dombrowski

Amok Amor: I love the energy and the high level of interaction in this European/American band led by Petter Eldh with Peter Evans, Wanja Slavin and Christian Lillinger. – Tony Dudley-Evans   

Phronesis: For maintaining stunningly high levels of musicianship, commitment and cohesion, apparently with sublime ease, over more than a dozen years. (A review from the inaugural Sounds of Denmark Festival here) – David Gower.

Playtime Quartet: I’ve seen Tom Bancroft (drums), Mario Caribe (bass), Martin Kershaw (reeds) and Graeme Stephen (guitar) every few weeks throughout the year, and they’re never less than inventive and entertaining. – Patrick Hadfield

Paul Dunmall: At least four great gigs this year with Liam Noble, Clark Tracey and Hamid Drake amongst others. – Alan Hayward

Brad Mehldau: Whether it’s solo, duo, or trio, this guy has more in the tank than Trump has excuses. – Martin Hummel

Georgia Mancio: For her outstanding leadership in raising funds for Calais refugees and her glorious performances (Tour preview here), especially that at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. – Mary James.

Nigel Price: Not merely the UK’s finest guitarist, but with his 56-date tour, surely also The Hardest-Working Man in Jazz. (Interview here) – Peter Jones

The 2015 White Desert premiere. Photo credit: Stephanie Knibbe

Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: For the beauty of the non-written scores she makes the band play. (Review of the 2015 premiere) – Matthieu Jouan

John Abercrombie/Marc Copland: The guitar/piano duo. – Hans Koller

Bill Laurance: An artist whose compositions just get better and better with each successive album (Live review here) – Rob Mallows

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Under the artistic direction of Tommy Smith the SNJO are in a colossally rich vein of form, with CD Beauty and the Beast featuring sax legend Bill Evans, projects with Mike Stern and Mike Mainieri (Steps Ahead) and new takes on classics from Brubeck, Mingus, Parker and others – all on the back of previous projects involving  Mozart, Makoto Ozone and the much-missed Bobby Wellins. (Feature here) – Mark McKergow

Ben Cottrell: For his magnificent commissioned work New Seeing at mjf 2016 – orchestral and majestic in its force. (Premiere reviewed here) – Steve Mead

Shez Raja: British jazz’s profile benefits from musicians who are charismatic, entertaining leaders as well as scintillating players – and electric funk bassist Shez Raja and his band have been supporting this year’s album release, Gurutopia (Review here), with energetic, audience-winning performances, including at Canary Wharf Jazz Festival (Photo essay) and the EFG London Jazz Festival. – Adrian Pallant

Gareth Lockrane Big Band: If you wanted a fiercer experience, you’d have to move beyond music altogether and spend a couple of hours in a lion enclosure. – Matt Pannell

Fred Nardin: The French pianist – Bruno Pfeiffer

Pigfoot: Chris Batchelor’s band in its various formats, “jazzing up” jazz, opera, Burt Bacharach, any musical dogma. – Simon Purcell

Bobby Wellins: A true genius who brought pleasure to countless listeners world wide. (Tributes here) – Steve Rubie

Jensen Sisters/Mason Brothers: Sibling magic has me in its spell, and it’s a  tie between the Jensen Sisters and the Mason Brothers – Sebastian Scotney (Yes, I know he cheated but he’s the boss – Year-End Lists Ed.)

Lauren Kinsella: For releasing Snowpoet’s debut album and for winning vocalist of the year at 2016’s Jazz FM Awards (Report here) – Amy Sibley-Allen.

Leonard Cohen : (a tribute from Mike Rud in Montreal) – Adam Sieff

Laura Jurd: Because she was everywhere this year and you couldn’t avoid her – but who would want to! (CD review here) – Peter Slavid

Andy Sheppard: For playing so generously in so many venues (and bands) in Bristol all year, and because he’s leaving town in 2017. (A review from outside Bristol) – Jon Turney

Nigel Price Organ Trio: Both for their durability and for the helter-skelter creativity evident at their gigs. (Feature here) – Peter Vacher

Christine Tobin: Pelt demonstrated her prominence as an innovator, while her moving Leonard Cohen interpretations sadly acquired new significance. (A Guardian feature from way back) – John L. Walters

Paul Dunmall/Liam Noble/John Edwards/Mark Sanders: A quartet which brings energy, joy and melody to free improvisation. – Oliver Weindling

Nérija: The all-women septet out of Tomorrow’s Warriors, massively impressed and moved me with their sheer musicianship, compositional skills and arrangements, and their wonderful, warm sound on stage, also captured beautifully on their new EP. (Review here) – Geoff Winston

Bobby Wellins. Photo credit: Helena Dornellas

Categories: miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. I also mentioned the brilliant Elliot Galvin and Laura Jurd, being unable to narrow it down to one musician. I know that's cheating, but LJ and EG deserve their mention too!

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