The fourth edition of the Jazz FM Awards, presented by broadcaster Jez Nelson at Shoreditch Town Hall on 25 April, highlighted the innovation and strength of the British and international jazz scenes, with a double hat-tip to jazz and blues loving legends The Rolling Stones, who were winners of Blues Artist of the Year and whose album Blue & Lonesome scooped Album of the Year. With live performances from several winners – including International Artist of the Year and former David Bowie saxophonist Donny McCaslin, Soul Artist of the Year Laura Mvula and Lifetime Achievement winner Georgie Fame – the presence of Stones drummer Charlie Watts, recipient of the Gold Award for his lifelong commitment to jazz and Hollywood film director Damien Chazelle, winner of the Impact Award for his two jazz-centred films Whiplash and La La Land, ensured this was the highest profile edition of the awards to date.
Many UK musicians won big on the night. The Live Experience of the Year award went to vibes virtuoso Orphy Robinson's All Stars' stellar tribute to Bobby Hutcherson; resurgent keyboardist Nikki Yeoh won Instrumentalist of the Year; revered Brit jazz singer Norma Winstone won Vocalist of the Year award, while irrepressible saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings won UK Jazz Act of the Year and jazzy drum'n'bass group Yussef Kamaal won Breakthrough Jazz Act of the Year. Other winners included imaginative US drummer/soundscaper Jaimeo Brown, who scooped the Jazz Innovation of the Year award for his multi-media approach to audiovisuals and influential DJ/label boss Gilles Peterson was awarded the Digital Initiative of the Year award for the global reach of Worldwide FM.
The winners are as follows:
BREAKTHROUGH ACT OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Yamaha) – Yussef Kamaal
INTERNATIONAL JAZZ ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Oris Watches) – Donny McCaslin
VOCALIST OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by PRS for Music) – Norma Winstone
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Rathbones) – Nikki Yeoh
BLUES ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by The Piano Bar Soho) – The Rolling Stones
SOUL ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by RCS) – Laura Mvula
JAZZ INNOVATION OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Mishcon de Reya) – Jaimeo Brown
DIGITAL INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Pollitt & Partners) – Gilles Peterson for Worldwide FM
ALBUM OF THE YEAR (PUBLIC VOTE) (Sponsored by Arqiva) – The Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome
UK JAZZ ACT OF THE YEAR (PUBLIC VOTE) (Sponsored by Grange Hotels) – Shabaka Hutchings
LIVE EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR (PUBLIC VOTE) – Orphy Robinson All Stars – The Bobby Hutcherson Songbook at St James The Great, London
As part of the global celebrations for International Jazz Day on Sunday 30 April, the French Bureau Export, in association with 'Jazz on Film' events-organizer Offbeat, presents French director Louis Malle's mesmerising classic Ascenseur pour l'échafaud(1958) at the Lumiere, South Kensington SW7.
The screening will be preceded by an entirely exclusive live set inspired by Miles Davis' improvised soundtrack for the film, performed by the French trumpeter Julien Alour in duo with Matt Ridley, one of the most oustanding new British bassists to come out of London in recent years.
The live set will start at 4.10pm followed by the film screening and a Q&A chaired by broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre with Julien Alour and 'jazz on film' journalist Selwyn Harris on the panel.
To coincide with International Jazz Day, Leamington Spa-based promoters In The Moment are putting on an event featuring Norma Winstone on Monday 1 May at 7.30pm at the Restaurant in the Park, Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa CV32 4AA. Accompanying Norma is bassist Adrian Litvinoff's highly respected group, Interplay, featuring Alan Wakeman (sax/flute), Richard Baker (trombone), Neil Hunter (piano) and Dave Balen (drums/percussion).
There will also be a free public talk before the concert: 'Miles Davis and Doo Bop: Jazz meets Hip Hop' by Dr. Roger Fagge, Associate Professor in Comparative American Studies, University of Warwick. This takes place at 5.00pm in The Studio in Jephson Gardens Glasshouse. No advance booking is required, although places are limited.
Adventurous Mercury Prize-nominated folk singer Sam Lee's nature-bound concert series, Singing with Nightingales, returns for a second run of 30 gigs in four locations in woodland locations in Kent, Essex, Sussex and Cambridgeshire from 13 April to 13 May. Chief among the intimate fireside performers will be emerging jazz bass talent Misha Mullov-Abbado (29 April) plus jazz singer/violinist Alice Zawadzki (pictured above, 5 and 6 May) and singer songwriter Gwyneth Herbert (21 and 22 April) – all appearing as part of this unusual festival experience created to put punters in touch with art and nature via a campfire feast with songs and stories about one of Britain's rarest birds culminating in a night walk to hear a unique duet between the nightingale and musicians.
MOBO Award-winning Brit-jazz four-piece Empirical are set to take their boundary-busting Pop-up Jazz Lounge to three locations around the UK this year, kicking off with a weeklong string of dates in Birmingham from 25-29 April. Launching the project at Old Street Tube station in February 2016, the band played to some 2,800 commuters over 24 performances, winning approval from many non-jazz fans in the process.
The Birmingham gigs will take place at a retail unit in the Great Western Arcade, located in the heart of Birmingham's Coleman Business district, with the aim of playing to workers, shoppers and commuters using nearby Snow Hill station. This year also marks Empirical's decade together with the band set to return to Old Street Underground station in June, before appearing in Liverpool in September.
The band's bassist Tom Farmer commented on the project: "It was great to see so many new people at our pop-up lounge at Old Street and to see them really engage with the music – it showed that there is an audience for jazz out there, and we can reach them! So we're really excited to be able to take our pop-up lounge to Birmingham this April and hope that we'll get the same enthusiastic reaction from people there."