With this year's edition of the Jazz FM Awards set to take place on 30 April, which is also International Jazz Day, the recipients of two special awards have been revealed. These include the PPL Lifetime Achievement Award which will be presented to revered British jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine (above left), now aged 90, in recognition of her extraordinary music career. This spans more than 100 albums (including working with Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Ray Charles) as well as countless performances alongside her late great husband Sir John Dankworth and with the cream of UK and international jazz scene. Laine commented on the award: "It is an incredible honour to be the recipient of this year's PPL Lifetime Achievement Award. Jazz continues to amaze me every day and I feel privileged to have been able to spend my life performing around the world and sharing music with many wonderful people. Thank you very much to Jazz FM for recognising my work."

The second special award goes to US guitarist and singing star George Benson (above right) who will be honoured with this year's Impact Award, in recognition of his music reaching a huge audience across his fifty-year career that includes winning 10 Grammy Awards and selling tens-of-millions of albums. The fifth edition of these awards will be presented by Jazz FM DJs Chris Philps and Jez Nelson at a ceremony at Shoreditch Town Hall on 30 April.

The full list of nominees is as follows:

Breakthrough Act of the Year: Ezra Collective; Nubya Garcia; Rob Luft.

International Soul Artist of the Year: Jordan Rakei; Leroy Hutson; Moonchild.

UK Jazz Act of the Year (Public Vote): Dinosaur; Ezra Collective; Kansas Smitty's House Band.

Digital Initiative of the Year: Esperanza Spalding: Exposure; Jacob Collier: I Harm U; Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club: Live Streaming.

Instrumentalist of the Year: Evan Parker; Theon Cross; Yazz Ahmed.

International Blues Artist of the Year: Lucky Peterson; Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo; Robert Cray.

Jazz Innovation of the Year: Carleen Anderson: Cage Street Memorial; Joe Armon Jones and Maxwell Owin: Idiom; Shabaka Hutchings: multiple projects.

Vocalist of the Year: Alice Zawadzki; Liane Carroll; Zara McFarlane. International Jazz

Artist of the Year: Cécile McLorin Salvant; Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah; Thundercat.

Album of the Year (Public Vote): Blue Note All-Stars – Our Point of View; Cécile McLorin Salvant – Dreams and Daggers; Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Diaspora; Denys Baptiste – The Late Trane; Phronesis – The Behemoth; Thundercat – Drunk.

Live Experience of the Year (Public Vote): An evening with Dave Holland – Ambleside Days Festival at Zephirellis Cinema (featuring Norma Winstone, Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker, Nikki Iles, Mark Lockheart, Stan Sulzmann, Tim Garland, John Helliwell, Nick Smart, James Maddren and Asif Sirkis); CHICAGOXLONDON – Makaya McCraven at Total Refreshment Centre – 18 October, featuring Theon Cross Trio and Jaimie Branch Fly Or Die Ensemble; Ronnie Scott's presents Ezra Collective – EFG London Jazz Festival at Islington Assembly Hall; Jazz Re:Fest at the Southbank Centre; Pharoah Sanders Quartet + Denys Baptiste + Alina Bzhezhinska: A Concert for Alice and John – EFG London Jazz Festival at The Barbican and Randolph Matthews – Jazz in the Round at Love Supreme Festival.

Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.jazzfmawards.com

Los Angeles sax star Kamasi Washington is set to return with his eagerly anticipated new album, Heaven & Earth, which will see a worldwide release on 22 June on UK label Young Turks. The follow up to his all-conquering 2015 triple album, The Epic, the double album once again features the saxophonist's distinctive mix of heavy grooves, powerful solos and cosmic jazz influences, including strings and choir, with his West Coast Get Down band in full-voice throughout its 16 tracks.

The album will be his second release for the UK based Young Turks label (a subsidiary to XL Recordings, home to Radiohead and Jack White) following his Harmony Of Difference EP from last year, in what will be a significant move to a British imprint and further evidence that larger labels are now signing jazz artists.

Washington and his band are setting out on a 60-plus date world tour, beginning this Sunday with two shows at the Coachella Music Festival, before kicking off their four UK gigs with a show at the 3,000-capacity Roundhouse, London (2 May) then heading to Albert Hall, Manchester (4 May), Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow (5 May) and the Big Top, Cheltenham Jazz Festival (6 May). See the June issue of Jazzwise for an exclusive interview with Kamasi Washington.

– Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.kamasiwashington.com

jazz-stroud-banner

The third edition of the Jazz Stroud Festival takes place on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend of 25-27 May, and seeks to act as an alternative but complementary counterpoint to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which takes place on the first May Bank Holiday. Andy Sheppard, Mammal Hands and Vels Trio have headlined the first two editions and this year is set to be its biggest line-up to date. The burgeoning festival utilises six main venues around the Cotswold market town, including the large capacity Goods Shed run by SVA and newly renovated Marshall Rooms, which are now being managed by jazz-loving actor Keith Allen, alongside the Subscription Rooms, Imperial Hotel and Stroud Valley Artspace (SVA) and Ale House studio bar.

Highlights of the Goods Shed programme include trumpet-led Cuban/Iranian jazz-meets-beats band Ariwo (top right) plus Anchorsong and Mermaid Chunky (25 May); rising star saxophonist Nubya Garcia (centre) headlines the Saturday with support from hotly-tipped Bristol crew Feelgood Experiment (26 May); while Phronesis pianist Ivo Neame (above left) tops the Sunday bill with his Quartet, with support from vocal-led quartet We Are Leif (27 May). The Goods Shed also hosts daytime shows including Dakhla Brass and Aisling Iris Quartet (26 May) and Dom Franks' Strayhorn (27 May).

Elsewhere, there's contemporary jazz pianist Andy Nowak Trio (Ale House, 25 May); the Tom Waits-inspired Swordfishtrombone (Marshall Rooms, 25 May); experimental trumpet/drums duo Eyebrow (26 May); soul singer Ruth Royall (Marshall Rooms, 26 May) and a late set from the cinematic sounding Bahla (Goods Shed, 26 May). The Imperial Hotel hosts a busy line-up of gigs and jam sessions and will provide a home for musicians during the festival. Further fringe events will take place at participating bars and pubs around the town. In the run-up to the festival the Goods Shed presents a series of monthly jazz gigs that include Alabaster De Plume (14 April) and drummer/percussionist Ben Brown's Afro-jazz group Waaju (19 April).

Mike Flynn

For the full programme visit www.jazzstroud.org

taylor

With the passing of Cecil Taylor it could be argued that jazz has lost another titan. But the pianist was never defined by the word 'jazz', let alone music in the broadest sense. Taylor wrote poetry, often disarmingly abstract, that was inextricably linked to his interest in language and culture, which in turn led to a range of Afro-centric and surreal titles for his recordings, be it Nefertitti, The Beautiful One Has Come, It's In The Brewing Luminous or One Too Many Salty Swift And Not Goodbye. Furthermore, there was a deep fascination with choreography and movement, which coalesced with his commitment to spoken word and music in both humorous and engaging ways. When Taylor played an unforgettable duet with drummer Max Roach at the Barbican in London in 1999 he first did a solo set, entering the stage in futurist leggings and jersey, trademark skullcap and antennae dreads – his sartorial style caught the eye as much as his music the ear – and executed some playful pirouettes as he recited verse. Taylor told me sometime before the concert: "When you go right into battle with Maximilian you have to be fully armed and ready", as a mark of great respect for his equally inspirational partner, as well as of his commitment to the demanding art of spontaneous composition, which he saw as a kind of ballet in beats or intense corps-a-corps with others where there was no room for compromise on form and content.

Raised in Queens, New York, Taylor was immersed in music from an early age, playing piano at six before going on to study at the New York College of Music and New England Conservatory, and while his initial work in the 1950s showed his absorption of the techniques of Tatum, Ellington and Monk, it also provided a glimpse of the lexicon he would subsequently develop. Taylor took the percussive playing of his forebears to new heights, creating barrages of polyrhythms and juddering motifs, often at high tempo, in which the right hand, rather than stating just one theme, acted practically as a whirling ride cymbal while the left sculpted pithy melody like a bass drum. The low end was as much a well of lyricism as it was chordal accompaniment. Constant momentum, whirlwind tonalities and unbroken streams of ideas, no matter how abrasive, were among Taylor's key contributions to post-war piano vocabulary.

Like many other American improvisers Taylor was interested in European composers such as Bartók but, perhaps cognizant of the ways of his mother, a renowned dancer, he brought torrid physicality to his music between the 1960s and noughties. His classic group albums, such as Unit Structures, Conquistador, Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants) and 3 Phasis, saw him work with brilliant players such as Jimmy Lyons, Sunny Murray, William Parker, Gunter Hampel, Tomasz Stańko and David S.Ware among others, while his several majestic solo albums, such as Air Above Mountains, underlined his ability to use the keyboard as a source of great orchestral richness.

Taylor had quite a mischievous side to his character that often led to slights on other musicians, but his influence, heard in anybody from Don Pullen and Matthew Shipp to Craig Taborn, Vijay Iyer and Alexander Hawkins, has been immense. A rebellious, subversive and cerebral figure, Taylor was a very complex person, a man fully aware of many kinds of minority status who challenged stereotypes and claimed ownership of his aesthetic, professing as much in the expression Dark To Themselves.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo by Joe Chonto

The heavyweight jazz quotient at this year's Love Supreme Jazz Festival gets a boost with news that iconic saxophonist and spiritual jazz guru Pharoah Sanders will be appearing among several strong additions to the line-up. Also announced is influential drummer Chris Dave, one-time sideman to Robert Glasper, who will feature with his neo-soul outfit The Drumhedz, while another Glasper affiliate, singer Lalah Hathaway, has also been added to the bill.

Further additions include jazz-funk stars Level 42 fronted by original thumb-heavy bassist Mark King and keyboardist Mike Lindup, while Swiss piano rhythm-king Nik Bärtsch; top UK vibes man Orphy Robinson's All Stars' award-winning Bobby Hutcherson Tribute Project; Mercury-nominated saxophonist Denys Baptiste's The Late Trane band; emerging jazz vocal talent Oscar Jerome and multi-award winning jazz singer Ian Shaw and his Trio have also been added to the bill.

These names join those already announced in Jazzwise, who are festival media partners, and include Earth, Wind & Fire; Crosscurrents (featuring Zakir Hussain, Dave Holland and Chris Potter); George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic; Elvis Costello; Steve Winwood; Dwight Trible with the Gondwana Orchestra; Moses Boyd Exodus; Ezra Collective; Zara McFarlane; Nubya Garcia; Yazz Ahmed; Alfa Mist; Keyon Harrold; Curtis Harding; Songhoy Blues; PP Arnold; Portico Quartet; Mr Jukes and Moonchild.

– Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.lovesupremefestival.com

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