Liam Shortall / corto.alto wins the 2021 New Music Scotland Innovation in Jazz Award

The winner of the Scottish New Music Innovation in Jazz award for 2021 is trombonist Liam Shortall for his corto.alto nu-jazz project. writes Mark McKergow(*)

Liam Shortall. Photo credit: Nathan Dunphy

Liam Shortall has been producing recordings and videos featuring a galaxy of young upcoming performers from his flat in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, both before and during the pandemic. The judging panel praised his ‘Live at 435’ collection:

“A fascinating and original approach to collaboration and presentation, the project was rooted in traditional jazz, but visited experimental ideas, techniques, and sounds throughout the project.”

Liam Shortall says:

“It’s a real honour to win the Mark McKergow Award for Innovation in Jazz at this year’s Scottish Awards for New Music. It’s an especially wonderful surprise, considering the high quality of the other nominated projects. There is so much exciting jazz being created in Scotland at the moment, and it is great to see New Music Scotland acknowledging this rich, world-class scene.

‘Live from 435’ was a year-long release series in which I released a new single and live session video every third Friday for a year. It featured many guests from across the UK and beyond, including Soweto Kinch, Johnny Woodham, Luca Manning and Anoushka Nanguy.”

corto.alto also won Best Band and Best Album at the 2020 Scottish Jazz Awards. Liam has just signed to Bristol label WormDisc Records, and so we can hope that his music will be receiving more exposure and reach soon. He is also appearing at the We Out Here Festival in Cambridge in August.

The 2021 Awards trophy designed and made by Charlott Rodgers . Photo credit: Andy Saunders

The winners of all thirteen Scottish New Music awards were announced on Wednesday 7 July in an online ceremony streamed from Glasgow’s Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RNSO) centre hosted by mezzo-soprano Andrea Baker.

Alongside the Innovation in Jazz award, there was also success for saxophonist Paul Towndrow, himself a nominee in the jazz category. Paul is one of the eight composers contributing to the GRIT Orchestra’s massive work The Declaration, which won the Good Spirits Co Award for Innovation in New Traditional Music. Led by Greg Lawson, the GRIT Orchestra was formed to create orchestral versions of Scottish Celtic fusion artist Martyn Bennett’s pioneering work in the early 2000s. With 80 performers from across the musical range, the orchestra’s performances are occasions of powerful cross-cultural celebration.  

The 2021 award itself is a curved glass sculpture by Glasgow artist Charlott Rodgers. Each individual award trophy includes a sound wave image from the winning project, along with coloured glass, engraving and sand blasting. 

Andrea Baker, host of the Award. Photo credit Andy Saunders

    (*) Mark McKergow is supporting the New Music Scotland jazz award in 2021. 


Liam Shortall’s corto.alto on Bandcamp

Watch the streamed awards ceremony on YouTube.  (The Innovation in Jazz segment starts at 49:55 minutes.)

Read about all three nominees for the Innovation in Jazz award 2021

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