German Jazz Awards – Winners

The inaugural German Jazz Awards were held on 3 June 2021. The full list of winners across the thirty-one categories is below our report.

A selection of the winners in Munich. L-R: Anna Schluifelder and Michael Stückl of Unterfahrt (special prize of the jury), Christopher Dell (special instrument) , Marc Muellbauer, Julia Hülsmann, Uli Kempendorff, Heinrich Köbberling (all four from the Julia Hülsmann Quartet), Drummer and Musician of the Year Christian Lillinger. Photo credit Thomas Krebs/ Deutscher Jazzpreis

Sebastian writes: This doesn’t happen in many countries: Germany has a Culture Minister Monika Grütters (and also the country’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier) who really “get” jazz. Both are genuine fans. Grütters’ introductory speech for these awards, being held for the first time, made it clear WHY they were happening: because, as she said quite unambiguously, jazz can easily be overlooked; and because it shouldn’t be. She also expressed the personal wish, as a regular visitor to A-Trane in Berlin, to be back in the audience a club and to have the very experience again that proximity with other audience members and with musicians can give. It was powerful as an official position, and yet it was also personal.

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The extent of the engagement of the national government and of the para-statal Initiative Musik also meant that there was significant public money behind the venture to get it off the ground. The prizes, for example, included substantial amounts of cash.

Pinar Atalay, TV anchor for the Jazzpreis in Hamburg. Photo credit Fynn Freund/ Deutscher Jazzpreis

The awards were professionally presented by TV anchor Pinar Atalay, who had the role of providing seamless continuity as the event was screened from four different German cities – see screenshot below. She had been impressively diligent with her research, even citing at one moment things she had learned from exchanges with one of the musicians whom she had met earlier in the ladies’ loo.

Lucia Cadotsch receiving the first award of the evenng. Photo credit: Fynn Freund / Deutscher Jazzpreis

Thery first prizewinner of the evening Lucia Cadotsch was clearly very moved to receive her award.

Towards the end came one intervention which certainly took me by surprise. Whereas there were repeated references to the quality and the (unusual) level of transparency in the jury’s processes, the live show also gave a platform to a group of musicians who wanted to express doubts and criticism of the way in which the awards have been structured, and to put the case for greater diversity. Elias Stemeseder spoke on their behalf. (A link to the video is below)

The final screenshot from (clockwise from top left) Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Mannheim


Artists national

1. Vocals: Lucia Cadotsch (picture above)

2. Woodwinds: Daniel Erdmann

3. Brass Instruments: Markus Stockhausen

4. Piano/Keyboards: Aki Takase

5. Guitar: Ronny Graupe

6. Bass: Eva Kruse

7. Drums/Percussion: Christian Lillinger (picture above)

8. Special Instruments:  Christopher Dell (picture above)

9. Artist of the Year: Christian Lillinger (picture above)

10. Band of the Year: Philipp Gropper’s PHILM

11. Large Ensemble of the Year: Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra

Artists international

12. Wind Instruments International: Jaimie Branch

13. Piano/Keyboards International: Tigran Hamasyan

14. String Instruments International: Wolfgang Muthspiel

15. Drums/Percussion International: Brian Blade

16. Artist of the Year International: Tigran Hamasyan

17. Band of the Year International: Shake Stew

Recording / Production

18. Instrumental Album of the Year: Julia Hülsmann Quartet – Not Far From Here (Picture above)

19. Vocal Album of the Year: Masaa – Irade

20. Debut Album of the Year: Mirna Bogdanović – Confrontation

21. Broadcast Production of the Year: Bill Laurance & WDR Big Band Cologne

Recording / Production International

22. Instrumental Album of the Year International: Carla Bley – Life Goes On

23. Vocal Album of the Year International: Kandace Springs – The Women Who Raised Me

24. Debut Album of the Year International: Joel Ross – KingMaker


25. Club of the Year: LOFT

26. Festival of the Year: 44. Leipziger Jazztage Transitions

Composition / Arrangement

27. Composition of the Year: Florian Ross – Streamwalk

28. Arrangement of the Year: Fabia Mantwill – Ophelia

Special Prizes

29. Journalistic Achievement: Günther Huesmann – Bird Lives (Zum 100. Geburtstag von Charlie Parker)

Screenshot of Herbie Hancock and Karsten Jahnke

30. Lifetime Achievement: Karsten Jahnke – presented by Herbie Hancock (above)

31. Special Prize of the Jury: Jazzclub Unterfahrt (team pictured above)

LINKS The full video stream of the Awards

(Elias Stemeseder’s speech on behalf of Musicians For is at [3:26:30])

Deutscher Jazzpreis website

The full list of nominees for the 2021 Awards

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