Winners announced for 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The winners of the 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards were announced last night on Tuesday 10 March. The Awards, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), are considered Britain’s premier ceremony for the UK jazz community.

Featuring a broad array of jazz talent from within the industry, the awards are once again sponsored by music licensing company PPL. The organisation is dedicated to ensuring that all those that invest their time and talent in making music are paid fairly for their work, licensing recorded music in public and broadcast on behalf of 90,000 performer and record company members – a significant number of whom are from the jazz community.

During the ceremony, award presenters comprised of a host of British politician’s and home-grown UK jazz talent including; multi-platinum jazz-pop singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum, PPL CEO Peter Leathem, luminary jazz vocalists Elaine Delmar and Dame Cleo Laine, world class saxophonists Bobby Wellins and Peter King and Members of Parliament Norman Baker MP, Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, and Lord Prescott. Compére for the evening was the esteemed newsreader Moira Stuart OBE.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Norma Winstone MBE         

Norma Winstone came to notoriety in the late 1960s when she shared the bill at Ronnie Scott’s club with Roland Kirk. Although she began her career singing jazz standards, she became involved in the Avant Garde movement, exploring the use of the voice in an experimental way and evolving her own wordless approach to improvisation. In 1971 she was voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll and subsequently recorded her own album Edge of Time for Decca. She has become known as a very fine lyricist, writing words to compositions by many contemporary composers including Steve Swallow’s Ladies in Mercedes, which has become a standard. She has recorded many albums on the prestigious ECM label with the group Azimuth, John Taylor and also the late Kenny Wheeler. In 2008, ECM album, Distances, recorded with Glauco Venier and Klaus Gesing, received a Grammy nomination in the Jazz Vocal CD category.

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Laura Jurd

London based composer and trumpet player, Laura Jurd, is an active member of the UK jazz and improvisation scene. She was awarded the 2011 Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition and has written for the likes of the Chaos Orchestra, Mark Lockheart, Saxaphonquadrat Berlin, the Ligeti Quartet as well as many other ensembles and musicians.

Jazz Album of the Year: ‘Swamp’ by Partisans

Partisans’ critically acclaimed album, Swamp, was released in September 2014 on Whirlwind Records. Co-led by Phil Robson (guitar) and Julian Siegel (tenor sax and bass clarinet) who composed the Swamp album, the quartet is completed by Thaddeus Kelly (bass) and Gene Calderazzo (drums).

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Engines Orchestra

Engines Orchestra (eO) is London’s freshest cross-genre large ensemble. Combining some of the capitals most exciting young jazz and classical instrumentalists, they are a community of musicians who come together to challenge conventions and push the boundaries of creative music making. In 2014, eO’s project, Lifecycles, debuted at the EFG London Jazz Festival to much acclaim; the performance was listed at number 3 in TimeOut’s Top 10 EFG Performances, received four stars in The Guardian and received airplay on BBC Radio 2, Jazz on 3 and Jazz FM.

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Peter Edwards                 

Pianist, composer and bandleader, Peter Edwards, graduated with a Masters in Jazz from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2009. Participation in the Tomorrows Warriors young artist development programme gave him the opportunity to sharpen his performance and compositional skills under the guidance of Gary Crosby OBE. He later began recording and touring with the Abram Wilson Quartet and has gone on to work with Rhythmica, Nicola Emmanuelle and Zara McFarlane to name a few.  His debut album Safe and Sound has garnered much praise and was among MOJO's Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2014.                       

Jazz Venue of the Year: St Ives Jazz Club       

Since opening in 1998, St Ives Jazz Club has featured some of the greatest international and UK musicians, top class regional players and promising young talent. The venue has since launched a new educational initiative, offering young people in schools and colleges opportunities to experience top quality music and to meet the musicians.

Jazz Media Award: London Jazz News

The London Jazz News (LJN) website collates the dynamism and the diversity of the London jazz scene and beyond. With an archive of over 5,000 articles and readership of 130,000 page-views per day, LJN which started in 2009 as single-author blog by Sebastian Scotney, has since grown to involve a cohort of jazz enthusiasts that publish three articles a day on news, previews, interviews, and audio podcasts. LJN has become a widely-read and trusted source of information about the UK jazz scene among influential programmers and broadcasters worldwide.

Jazz Education Award: National Youth Jazz Orchestra

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) is one of Britain’s longest-running ensembles for young people under 25 playing big-band jazz. Founded by Bill Ashton OBE in 1965, the orchestra offered aspiring young musicians the opportunity to rehearse, write and gain experience in live performance at a time when UK jazz education was in its infancy. Members are encouraged to write their own arrangements and compositions, creating a diverse repertoire to draw from in addition to classic big-band standards. NYJO, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015, includes Guy Barker, Mark Nightingale, Gerard Presencer, Pete Long, Dennis and Winston Rollins and Amy Winehouse amongst its alumni.

Services to Jazz Award: Chris Hodgkins

In 1985, Chris Hodgkins was appointed Director of Jazz Services, the national organisation funded by Arts Council England to provide services in information, touring, education, communications and publishing to the UK jazz community. In his lifetime, Chris has toured the UK and Europe as a professional trumpeter, chaired the National Jazz Archive, co-founded the Welsh Jazz Festival with Geoff Palser and was instrumental in establishing the Welsh Jazz Society alongside David Greensmith.  After 29 years, Chris took the decision to step down as Director of Jazz Services in 2014. With his days of administration behind him, Chris now takes to the road, the radio and the recording studio to focus on playing the music he loves.

Special APPJAG Award: Peter Ind

Peter was just 21 when he began travelling to New York playing jazz double bass on the Queen Mary in 1949. In 1951 Peter settled in America which became his home for the next 15 years. In this time, he taught, performed and recorded with Lennie Tristano and played with many great names in jazz including Lee Konitz, Buddy Rich, Coleman Hawkins, and Billie Holiday. While there, he launched the Wave jazz label which still exists today. Returning to the UK in 1966, Chris continued to perform and ran the very successful Bass Clef and Tenor Clef Jazz Clubs in London. He now concentrates on recordings and playing internationally.

Michael Connarty MP, APPJAG Co-Chairman, said: “The Parliamentary Jazz Awards is one way MPs and Peers of all political parties aim to support British jazz by recognising and honouring the amazing musical talent we have in this country. The star studded names of this year’s winners speak for themselves and we are very grateful to PPL for sponsoring the Awards.”

Fran Nevrkla OBE, Chairman, PPL, said: “We at PPL are exceptionally proud and honoured to have been able to support and sponsor the special Parliamentary Jazz Awards since their inception in 2005.  On this special 10th Anniversary, I would like to extend my personal thanks and appreciation to Michael Connarty MP and to Lord Colwyn for doing such a fantastic job in co-chairing and running APPJAG as well as my thanks to Bob Blizzard. I would also like to thank all the judges for their time and welcome Moira Stuart, the Awards’ compére. These Jazz Awards remain a special night for Parliament, the jazz community and award recipients as well as for PPL and the music industry generally.”

Back by popular demand at this year’s ceremony were special guest performances by James Pearson and The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars.