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2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: the votes are in | reviews, news & interviews

2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: the votes are in

2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: the votes are in

Exciting times for UK jazz celebrated at premier awards for the music

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Nérija

Held auspiciously on the hundredth birthday of one of the giants of the music, composer and pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982), the winners of this year's Parliamentary Jazz Awards were announced at a congenial ceremony at London’s newest live venue, PizzaExpress Live Holborn.

MC’d by PizzaExpress’s debonair Music Manager, Ross Dines, this thirteenth edition of the annual awards – organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) – was the first to take place outside its spiritual home, the Houses of Parliament. Fuelled by pizza and Peroni (sponsors of the awards), it would be fair to say that the audience didn’t appear to be unduly perturbed by the change of venue.

Shortlisted for the 2017 Mercury Prize (did someone just say “tokenism”?), the first award of the evening – Jazz Album of the Year – went to Dinosaur for their highly regarded, genre-defying debut, Together As One.

Founded and led by Artistic Director and bassist, Gary Crosby OBE, and Chief Executive, Janine Irons MBE, the innovative music education and professional development organisation, Tomorrow’s Warriors, proved popular winners of the Jazz Education Award. Over the past quarter of a century, the Warriors’ remarkable roll-call of alumni ranges from Denys Baptiste and Zara McFarlane to Binker and Moses and Ezra Collective.

Announced by Jazzwise magazine’s affable editor-in-chief, Jon Newey, who noted what an exciting time it was for new jazz in the UK, the winner of the Jazz Newcomer of the Year category was Nérija – yet more alums of Tomorrow’s Warriors. A London-based collective that’s been steadily winning fans thanks to high profile gigs at the Barbican, Cadogan Hall, Love Supreme, Jazz Re:Fest and more, the band’s full length debut is one of 2018’s hotly anticipated releases.

Dedicating his award “to Grenfell Tower and all those that are still suffering,” Jazz Vocalist of the Year Award went to Jazz Warriors co-founder, vocalist, actor and composer, Cleveland Watkiss, while Jazz FM’s Head of Music, Chris Philips – a constant presence on London’s airwaves for the past 30-plus years – got the nod for Jazz Media Award. Celebrating its fifteenth edition last month, Scarborough Jazz Festival scooped Jazz Venue of the Year.

Presenting the Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award, Sarah Champion MP remarked to the musicians in the room: “Let’s be honest about it, politicians come and go, but you create things that are our memories that we define our lives by.” This award went to saxophonist, band leader and composer, Shabaka Hutchings (Shabaka and the Ancestors, Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming).

Announced by guitarist Deirdre Cartwright, Jazz Ensemble of the Year went to the Scandinavian/British trio Phronesis (pictured above), whose acclaimed big band album The Behemoth marked the group’s tenth anniversary this year.

Winner of the Services to Jazz Award, promoter and programmer Tony Dudley-Evans recalled the heady days of the early 1960s when, as a “naïve student”, he put on gigs by the Tubby Hayes Quintet, Ronnie Scott and Joe Harriott in SOAS’s Library. The special APPJAG award went to guitar maestro Jim Mullen who, after receiving his parchment, quipped: “Awards are very nice, but have you got any gigs?”

Supplying the live music and jaunty intros, the specially convened house band – Max Brittain (guitar), Henry Lowther (trumpet), Camilla George (sax), Alison Rayner (bass) and Cheryl Alleyne (drums) – received well deserved thanks at various points in the evening.

The full list of winners:

Jazz Album of the Year: Dinosaur, Together As One

Jazz Education Award: Tomorrow’s Warriors

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Nérija

Jazz Venue of the Year: Scarborough Jazz Festival

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Cleveland Watkiss

Jazz Media Award: Chris Philips

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Shabaka Hutchings

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Phronesis

Services to Jazz Award: Tony Dudley-Evans

APPJAG Special Award: Jim Mullen

Watch “In the Castle of My Skin” by Sons Of Kemet

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