The 2021 Jazz FM awards took place at Under the Bridge in Stamford Bridge on 28 October. For the results as announced on the night, follow the link below. Charles Rees attended the event and reports from it:
The ceremony was presented by saxophonist/broadcaster Soweto Kinch and Jazz FM presenter Anne Frankenstein. Guests at the event included Nick Hornby, Adil Ray, OBE, Danny John-Jules, Robert Elms and Johanna Konta. London Mayor Sadiq Kahn also made a special video appearance to present the Innovation Award to EFG London Jazz Festival.
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Tony Bennett received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was introduced by his longtime friend Sir Michael Parkinson.
He gave a touching acceptance speech via video:
“I listened to jazz musicians to develop my own vocal style. They are such expert craftsmen which allows them to be spontaneous and stay in the moment and always change what they were doing. That really appealed to me and it’s one of the reasons I have gravitated to always having jazz musicians perform and record with me over the years. I would like to thank all the jazz greats I have worked with over the decades for this honour and thank you to Jazz FM for celebrating this treasured art form.” The 95 year old went on to perform a tremendous rendition of The Way You Look Tonight with piano, from his New York home.
Courtney Pine won Jazz FM’s Gold Award, most recently won in 2020 by his friend and Jazz Warriors colleague Orphy Robinson. In Pine’s short speech he congratulated Jazz FM for ‘reaching this point’. He went on to say “I think the environment we are in and that they have created, truly reflects who we are as a United Kingdom”.
Tomorrow’s Warriors won the Impact Award, which drummer Femi Koleoso announced in a heartfelt introduction: “This award goes to people that have had an impact not just on myself, but on the whole community”.
Founders Gary Crosby, OBE and Janine Irons, MBE reminded the audience of their ethos; “each one, teach one”. Later in the evening, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, an all-star Tomorrow’s Warriors band – comprised of Soweto Kinch, Maddy Coombs, Alex Ho, Gary Crosby, Daniel Casimir and Romarna Campbell – performed Wayne Shorter’s Yes or No.
Other live music included Ego Ella May – winner of the Vocalist of the Year category – performing her song Tonight I’m Drowning. Drummer Jas Kayser, who performed her composition Fela’s Words with her trio. The 24 year old was the winner of the Breakthrough Act of the Year. She thanked her band, manager and family.
Jon Batiste added two more awards to his already extensive list, which includes the 2021 Academy Award for Best Original Score, 3 Grammys, a Golden Globe and many more. Last night’s awards saw The Late Show musical director bag Album of the Year, as chosen by public vote, as well as Soul Act of the Year.
Instrumentalist of the Year, bassist Daniel Casimir, commented wryly: “I’m a bass player, and yeah… this shouldn’t be happening”, which got laughs all around. He also thanked his wife Rebecca for her 15 years of support.
Categories: Awards Ceremony Reports