[JPL] BBC Jazz Awards contenders announced

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Fri Jun 8 23:57:20 EDT 2007

Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog - music

BBC Jazz Awards contenders announced

John Fordham

June 8, 2007 11:44 AM

Maybe it's understandable that the BBC wanted to show off the elegantly 
revamped Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House by using it as a venue for as 
many functions as it could in the week of its reopening. But the choice 
somewhat took the bounce out of this week's party - usually staged in some 
appropriately louche and laid-back venue like Dean Street's Pizza Express - 
for the corporation to declare the runners and riders for 
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/jazzawards2006/>its annual Jazz Awards. The 
outright winners will be declared during a public show at the Mermaid 
Theatre on July 12, with 
<http://www.myspace.com/officialmadeleinepeyroux>Madeleine Peyroux due to 
be in attendance, and that veteran jazz innovator Dave Brubeck apparently 
participating in a real-time jam with the BBC Big Band - with Brubeck on a 
New York link, and the band, presumably hoping hard that the fates are 
smiling on technology that night.

After a lot of milling about in the Broadcasting House foyer and distinctly 
unjazzy bureaucracy ("sorry, you have to have a blue ticket"), the 
assembled jazz hacks were hastily ushered past the inviting-looking drinks 
room (presumably for fear that jazzers would revert to stereotype and never 
make it to the main event) and into the Radio Theatre. Nothing happened, 
and nothing was said about it, for half an hour or more - a slow start even 
by jazz standards - but eventually Paul Gambaccini emerged to run down the 
shortlists in eight categories and the outright winners in three more. That 
<http://music.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,,2092312,00.html>fine singer 
Claire Martin, one of the Best Vocalist candidates, had the unenviable task 
of warming up the crowd, and with an unfamiliar band - but she and 
trumpeter Gerard Presencer threw caution to the winds and went for an 
ice-breaking uptempo blaster, for which the warm applause was close to a 
sigh of relief.

Gambaccini, who manages to be both imperturbable and quietly enthusiastic 
at once (qualities that have made jazz-award presenting something of a 
regular sideline with him), then warmed to his task - and the fiery alto 
saxist <http://www.myspace.com/sowetokinch>Soweto Kinch, solo guitar star 
Martin Taylor, and an impromptu ensemble including Kinch, trumpeter Guy 
Barker, and American guest drummer Billy Cobham, helped him out.

The Best Vocalist nominees were Norma Winstone, Ian Shaw and Claire Martin; 
Best Band contenders were Finn Peters' group, Byron Wallen's quartet, and 
the Stan Tracey Octet - which will be reminding fans of its formidable 
punch over three nights <http://www.ronniescotts.co.uk/>at Ronnie Scott's 
next week. Radio Two's Jazz Artist of The Year contenders were singers 
Allen Toussaint, Curtis Stigers, and Madeleine Peyroux. The Jazz on 3 
show's Innovation Award will go to Evan Parker, Tom Bancroft, or Kinch. 
Best Instrumentalist will be chosen from Gwilym Simcock, Liam Noble or 
Julian Siegel, and Rising Star from saxophonists Simon Spillett and James 
Allsopp, or trumpeter Tom Arthurs.

Radio Two has come up with the somewhat mysterious Heart Of Jazz Award for 
which Abram Wilson, Georgie Fame and Martin Taylor are the runners. Album 
of the Year will be chosen from 
Cowley's Displaced, 
Cawley's Hidden, 
Wallen's Meeting Ground, 
Wilson's Ferris Wheel to the Modern Day Delta, and 
Kinch's B19.

Three winners were declared there and then, and one in particular was 
greeted with an affection that might have been accorded to a family member 
- which, in terms of encouraging new generations on the British jazz scene, 
he is in a way. That was Tomorrow's Warriors and Jazz Jamaica bassist Gary 
Crosby, a man who encouraged Courtney Pine to find his feet all of 20 years 
ago and is still doing it for aspiring young players today - particularly 
those from backgrounds that don't necessarily give them the breaks. The 
International Award went to Madeleine Peyroux, the Lifetime Achievement 
Award to Dave Brubeck - hence that transatlantic hook-up on July 12. Phew. 
Brubeck's time signatures were tough enough to play with everybody in the 
same room, let alone an ocean apart.

Dr. Jazz
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