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2022 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: baubles, bromides and birthdays | reviews, news & interviews

2022 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: baubles, bromides and birthdays

2022 Parliamentary Jazz Awards: baubles, bromides and birthdays

A welcome return to in-person for this 18th edition of the awards

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Claire MartinLisa Wormsley

The winners of this year's Parliamentary Jazz Awards were announced at a convivial ceremony held on Tuesday night at Pizza Express Live Holborn.

Organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), and co-chaired by John Spellar MP and Lord Mann, the Awards celebrate the vibrancy, diversity, talent, and breadth of the jazz scene throughout the UK.

Ross Dines, Pizza Express’s urbane Music Manager and MC for the evening, kicked off this 18th edition of the annual awards by listing the 2020 and 2021 winners (both editions having taken place online). “Twelve years I waited for that award,” Dines quipped when noting that Pizza Express Jazz Club had won Venue of the Year in 2020. “Turned out all we had to be was closed.” On a more serious note, Dines also highlighted the huge disparity in funding levels, with opera receiving £65m against a paltry £1.6m for jazz, despite jazz having a considerably higher audience.

The evening’s first award, Jazz Vocalist of the Year, went to the utterly brilliant Claire Martin. The feel-good bromides of Lord Parkinson, Minister for Arts, who presented the award, struck the evening’s only false note – the UK’s “world-leading music industry… gives an incalculable source of soft power on the global stage,” he noted. Coming from someone who played a senior role in the Vote Leave campaign, and the deleterious effect that Brexit has had on UK touring musicians, this really was a bit rich.

Dines paid a special tribute to the great Tina May, “a lovely friend, an amazing singer, beautiful human being and spirit”, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

With bombshell cabinet resignations taking place just moments before the awards began, vocalist, actor and radio presenter Ian Shaw, announcing Instrumentalist of the Year to the hugely popular winner, multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader Tony Kofi, captured the febrile mood. “Just got a text from Nadine,” Shaw noted. “She couldn't be here this evening, she's just off to privatise Narnia.”

The most heart-warming part of the evening was when Kofi noted in his acceptance speech that it was his son Mingus’s 18th birthday – cue a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" for Mingus, who had accompanied his Dad to the awards, from all present.

Jazzwise editor Mike Flynn announced fellow bassist and composer Daniel Casimir’s Boxed In as Jazz Album of the Year – which Flynn accepted on Casimir’s behalf – and guitarist Deirdre Cartwright declared the London-based collective Kansas Smitty’s House Band, led by American-Italian alto-saxist and clarinettist Giacomo Smith, as winners of Ensemble of the Year.

Introduced by Dines as “producer, artist manager, educator, legend”, Janine Irons announced sax player Emma Rawicz as Jazz Newcomer of the Year. In a cogent plea for additional funding, Irons noted: “We want to be able to support all of those young people… all of us here can give them that support and make them recognise that, yes, you can do it. Yes, you can be that person who's going to really change everyone's lives – not only their own, but the millions of people who come to the music, once they get on stage. Let's keep that grassroots thing happening and let's keep supporting the venues, the promoters, the teachers who are developing these young people. It’s really, really important, and it actually costs quite a lot of money, because the music leaders need to be paid too.”

“If we come out of here this evening and find out that it is actually Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadine Dorries, then the economy's huge loss will certainly be the arts’ gain,” the Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (and Deputy Chair of APPJAG), Chi Onwurah, said, before revealing that The Globe, Newcastle upon Tyne had won Venue of the Year.

“Things have been changing over the last couple of decades, and need to keep changing. We need more diversity, we need more inclusion, we need more women, we need more people of colour, we need more people from all social classes to write about this music,” the journalist, broadcaster and author Kevin Le Gendre said before announcing the welcome news that the Jazz Media Award had gone to the Jazzwise, Songlines and Evening Standard writer Jane Cornwell.

The award-winning composer, arranger, conductor, baritone player, record producer and educator Issie Barratt announced the Manchester-based sax player and teacher, Helena Summerfield, as winner of the Jazz Education Award for Jazz Camp For Girls – a project inspired by JazzDanmark and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival which seeks to address the gender imbalance in jazz and introduce young female musicians to improvised music in a positive, supportive environment.

The remarkable octogenarian pianist, composer and bandleader Mike Westbrook won the Services to Jazz Award, announced by indefatigable jazz promoter Paul Pace, and Lord Mann wrapped up proceedings with a Special APPJAG Award to the wonderful musician and composer Barbara Thompson. Sadly too poorly to pass on a message, the award was accepted by her daughter, Ana Gracey, who said: “Both my parents are very much believers that you’re only as good as your last gig. I’m going to claim this award and all the love she’s received tonight from her peers, as my Mum’s last gig. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The specially convened house band – pianist Andrea Vicari, sax player Tori Freestone, trumpeter Henry Lowther, bassist Gary Crosby and drummer Paul Clarvis – garnered several well-deserved plaudits throughout the evening.

The full list of winners:

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Claire Martin
Jazz Album of the Year: Daniel Casimir, Boxed In
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Tony Kofi
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Kansas Smitty’s House Band
Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Emma Rawicz
Jazz Venue of the Year: The Globe, Newcastle upon Tyne
Jazz Media Award: Jane Cornwell
Jazz Education Award: Jazz Camp For Girls – Helena Summerfield
Services to Jazz Award: Mike Westbrook
Special APPJAG Award: Barbara Thompson

Listen to Daniel Casimir’s “Safe (Part One)” from Boxed In

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