2019 Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Peter Bacon reports: The recipients of the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards were announced last night. The Awards, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), were presented at the PizzaExpress Live (the Awards’ sponsors) in Holborn. The full list of recipients is as follows (with edited selections from the press release):

Zoe Gilby. Publicity photo.

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Zoe Gilby Zoe Gilby is a vocalist and songwriter, making a stunning impression on the music scene today. Sage Gateshead invited Zoe to be the featured soprano soloist for the spiritual work of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert. The Zoe Gilby Quartet has been performing rural tours facilitated by National Rural Touring and her quartet was selected for Jazz North’s Northern Line Scheme, her album Twelve Stories was released to critical acclaim.

Josephine Davies. Publicity photo.

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Josephine Davies Josephine Davies is a solo artist at the forefront of the UK contemporary music scene, pushing the boundaries of jazz with her current main artistic project Satori – a sax/bass/drums trio with an emphasis on extended and collaborative improvisation. It is a project that combines her seeking of freedom of expression with her interest in Japanese philosophy and lifestyle. ​ In 2016 Josephine was privileged to be a featured soloist on veteran saxophonist and composer Pete Hurt’s jazz orchestra recording A New Start, which was released to wide acclaim and came second in the British Jazz Awards Best New Album.​ Jazz Album of the Year: Fergus McCreadie – Turas Winning Best Instrumentalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards aged only 20; Fergus McCreadie is one of Scotland’s most exciting artists. His compositions for his trio feature Jazz and Scottish Traditional music in equal measures, creating a fusion that is warm and appealing, yet also fresh and exciting. His debut album Turas, was described as “Erik Satie running on Islay Malt rather than Absinthe” in a 5-star review by the Scotsman. Website

Ezra Collective. Publicity photo.

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Ezra Collective London five-piece Ezra Collective is proving themselves as a harmonious tour de force. Their sound nods respectfully to a classic jazz footprint, celebrating the originators whilst simultaneously carving a path solely their own. Ezra Collective marries the delicate technicalities of jazz musicianship with afrobeat and hip hop, tied together by a sound that’s unmistakably London. Following a joyous and stunningly cohesive show in May 2016, Boiler Room rightly labelled the group as “pioneering the new-wave of U.K. jazz”. Ezra Collective is: Femi Koleoso – Drums, TJ Koleoso – Bass, Joe Armon Jones – Keys, Dylan Jones – Trumpet, James Mollison – Saxophone. Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Xhosa Cole Handsworth-born Xhosa Cole is an embodiment of the success of numerous community arts programmes in Birmingham. Having first played the Tenor at Andy Hamilton’s Ladywood Community Music School, he’s now among a long legacy of Birmingham Saxophonists. In October 2018, he won the BBC Young Jazz Musician competition following a critically acclaimed performance in the Final at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the BFI London Jazz Festival. Xhosa continually pushes his playing while studying with teachers and mentors including Mike Williams, Jim Bashford and David Austin-Grey; Performing regularly around Birmingham; Writing for commissions by the Ideas of Noise Festival and Bobbie-Jane Gardener’s ‘For-Wards’ and teaching Birmingham’s next generation of talent alongside his former teacher Toni Grehan Jazz Venue of the Year: Watermill Jazz, Dorking Watermill Jazz have been presenting the best of jazz in the heart of Surrey for 22 years  Its team of four volunteer activists share the planning, marketing and management of each event to make it a pleasurable and fulfilling experience for performers and audience alike. Watermill Jazz was founded in March 1994. Weekly concerts are held every Thursday evening except in December – an ambitious programme which they justify financially by attracting consistently good attendances and presenting a mix of established jazz artists and newcomers, some large-scale events and the occasional visiting artist from overseas. Alongside their weekly concerts Watermill Jazz has encouraged local jazz talent by hosting a monthly jam session on the first Sunday afternoon of each month. Jazz Media Award: Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann Ian Mann runs a blog called the Jazz Mann. Living in a remote area like Herefordshire means that over the years he has put in thousands of miles travelling to gigs, both home and abroad. The Brecon and Cheltenham festivals have been staples of his musical calendar since their inception.  Ian Mann explains: “As a fan it’s taken a lot of dedication but I’ve been lucky enough to see many of the jazz legends over the years. This music has been a voyage of discovery and I’m still learning about it”.

Nikki Iles. Publicity photo.

Jazz Education Award: Nikki Iles As a player she remains much in demand. She was nominated in the piano category of the 2012 and 2013 British Jazz Awards. Recent work has taken her across the world as a member of the inspirational Julian Arguelles Octet. Also with, Joe Locke, The Kenny Wheeler Big Band, The Stan Sulzmann Quartet, Tony Coe, The Anglo/Canadian group with Martin Speake, Christine Jenson and vocal legend Norma Winstone. She has made many recordings and most recently, a trio CD “Hush“ in New York with Americans, Rufus Reid and Jeff Williams. “Mirror” with Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone, Stardust with Stan Sulzmann and finally her own group, The Printmakers “Westerly”. With a parallel career as a widely respected teacher, Nikki is Professor of Jazz Piano at the Royal Academy of Music and Middlesex University. She also gives master classes around the world. She has been a driving force behind the Jazz syllabus at the ABRSM and continues to publish extensively with Oxford University Press.

Cleo Laine. Publicity photo.

Services to Jazz Award: Dame Cleo Laine Born in a London suburb, Cleo showed early singing talent, which was nurtured by her Jamaican father and English mother. She auditioned successfully for a band led by musician John Dankworth, under whose banner she performed until 1958, in which year the two were married. Then began an illustrious career as a singer and actress. In 1979 Cleo received an OBE and in 1997 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire. She has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees in the USA and UK. In 1998 the Worshipful Company of Musicians awarded her their Silver Medal for a Lifetime Contribution to British Jazz, and the British Jazz Awards have recognised her a number of times, including with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. In March 2010, Laine and Dankworth’s final musical collaboration was released on CD and for download – Jazz Matters. The recording featured the Dankworth Big Band playing new compositions written by Dankworth for the couple’s performance at the 2007 Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. In 2018 Dame Cleo Laine received the PPL Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jazz FM Awards. Special APPJAG Award: Henry Lowther Henry Lowther was born in Leicester, England, in 1941. As a child Henry learned cornet from his father and took private violin lessons before going on to study with Manoug Parakian at the Royal Academy of Music. Currently Henry composes and plays in the London Jazz Orchestra, leads his own band Still Waters, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. The new album from Henry Lowther’s Still Waters, “Can’t Believe, Won’t Believe” was released in February 2018.The band was born out a long association and friendship, going back forty years, between Henry and bassist Dave Green. As a result Still Waters is now one of the most accomplished tightly ensembled and creative bands around. Although a classic quintet of two front line and rhythm, Still Waters plays radical and original music, ranging from gentle, quietly pastoral and melodic music, reflecting the band’s name, through to dynamic, free improvisation.
During the ceremony, award presenters comprised of British politicians and home-grown UK jazz talent including Co-Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, Kelvin Hopkins and Lord Colwyn, Jon Newey, Editor in Chief of Jazzwise, Deirdre Cartwright, Danielle White, Raestar Promotions, Steve Crocker – Chair of Jazz Leeds and  Northern Jazz Promoters, (NORVOL), Simon Cooke, Managing Director of Ronnie Scott’s, Gary Crosby OBE, BBC Radio presenter Cerys Matthews and Baroness Coussins.
Compére for the evening was Ross Dines of PizzaExpress Live, “This has been a really strong year for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in terms of talent and nominations. The well deserved recipients are a veritable who’s who of names that have made a real impact on the music and helped make the UK one of the world’s leading jazz territories”.  A big hand to the Parliamentary Band on the evening; Max Brittain, Alison Rayner, Henry Lowther, Diane McLoughlin and Cheryl Alleyne.
Kelvin Hopkins, APPJAG Co-Chairman, said: “The Parliamentary Jazz Awards are a great way for MPs and Peers of all political parties to show their support for British jazz by recognising and honouring the amazing musical talent we have in our country. From established stars to fresh new talent, the range and diversity of this year’s winners shows the vibrancy and creativity of British jazz. We are extremely grateful once again to PizzaEpress Live for supporting the Awards.”
APPJAG currently has 80 members from the House of Commons and House of Lords across all political parties. Their aim is to encourage wider and deeper enjoyment of jazz, to increase Parliamentarians’ understanding of the jazz industry and issues surrounding it, to promote jazz as a musical form and to raise its profile inside and outside Parliament. The Group’s officers as at the 1st November 2019 were Co-Chairs, Kelvin Hopkins MP and Lord Colwyn, Secretary, Baroness Coussins, Vice Chairs, Alison Thewless MP and Sarah Champion MP, the Treasurer is Ian Paisley MP. Officers are: Lord Crathorne, John Mann MP and Sir Greg Knight MP. The Secretariat is Chris Hodgkins.

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