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2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards | reviews, news & interviews

2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Gongs, cheers and digs at the House of Commons

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Engines Orchestra

Compered by the velvet-toned broadcaster Moira Stuart, the winners of this year's Parliamentary Jazz Awards were announced last night in a packed Terrace Pavillion at the House of Commons.

Now in their eleventh year, the Awards are organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) and, since the sad demise of the BBC Jazz Awards, are now the UK's premier awards for the jazz community. Sponsored by the music licensing company PPL, this year's awards included more artist-focused categories, reflecting the incredible breadth and depth of the UK jazz scene.

Special guest performers James Pearson and The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars – Freddie Gavita (trumpet), Alex Garnett (sax), Sam Burgess (bass) and Chris Higginbottom (drums) – provided the live music and atmospheric intros as each award was announced. And, contrary to what Noel Gallagher said in a recently posted YouTube clip that's left more than a few jazzers a little miffed (although it's a classic Gallagher wind-up, surely), they all played the same song, in the same tempo, and in the same key.

This being the House of Commons, and with a general election looming to boot, the opportunity for a well-aimed dig was too good to miss. Presenting the "Newcomer of the Year" award, Ken Clarke MP said: “I'm almost past the days when I can be regarded as a newcomer to politics or to jazz, though I've just bumped into John Prescott, which keeps me feeling young.” Not to be outdone, Lord Prescott, presenting the "Venue of the Year" award, retorted with: “Ken, the latest story coming out from your outfit is Pickles is going to fine you for being fat and obese. Is that right?”

There were some surprises, too. Loose Tubes were hotly tipped for "Ensemble of the Year", presented by Jamie Cullum, but lost out to Engines Orchestra.

The loudest cheer of the night was reserved for Chris Hodgkins, the former director of Jazz Services who, in a heartfelt acceptance speech for his "Services to Jazz Award", lambasted the appalling remuneration that jazz musicians receive while heaping praise on the volunteer promoters without whom, he said, “you wouldn't have a jazz scene. They are the warp and the weft.”

The evening's most touching moment came with the final award of the night, which saw Dame Cleo Laine presenting the wonderful Norma Winstone with "Jazz Vocalist of the Year".

The full list of winners:

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Norma Winstone MBE

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Laura Jurd

Jazz Album of the Year: Partisans, Swamp

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Engines Orchestra

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Peter Edwards

Jazz Venue of the Year: St Ives Jazz Club

Jazz Media Award: London Jazz News

Jazz Education Award: National Youth Jazz Orchestra

Services to Jazz Award: Chris Hodgkins

Special Award: Peter Ind

Overleaf: watch the Norma Winstone Trio perform at the 2012 Jazzfest Bonn


This being the House of Commons, the opportunity for a well-aimed dig was too good to miss

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