Jazz FM Awards - winners announced

The second Jazz FM Awards, in partnership with Serious, took place tonight at Vinopolis, London Bridge. Read about the winners and performers.

The second Jazz FM Awards, in partnership with Serious, took place tonight at the Great Halls at Vinopolis, London Bridge. The event was hosted by comedic actor John Thomson and featured stunning performances from PPL Lifetime Achievement winner Hugh Masekela with Larry Willis, singer Rebecca Ferguson with her ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ Billie Holiday tribute and the amazing House Gospel Choir. Soul Artist Of The Year winner Jarrod Lawson flew in especially to receive his award award and provide a mesmerising surprise solo performance.

Internationally renowned vocalist Gregory Porter took his second Jazz FM award with International Jazz Artist of the Year. As a gospel, blues, jazz and soul singer in one package, he successfully saw off competition from drummer Antonio Sanchez, who wrote the soundtrack to the Oscar winning motion picture ‘Birdman’, and the powerhouse band Snarky Puppy.

Snarky Puppy’s pianist Bill Laurance won the Breakthrough Act award, having received widespread critical acclaim for his highly anticipated 2nd album ‘Swift’, taking influences from electronic, classical and jazz music and showcasing the Westside Trio, a string trio from Metropole Orkest, and Katie Christie on French horn. 

Legendary South African multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and composer Hugh Masekela was commended with the PPL Lifetime Achievement Award for both his outstanding contribution to music globally and his potent political voice in the anti-apartheid movement. He commented, ”Over the past 45 years, England, and particularly London, has been a principal centre in my developmental journey to the place I have ultimately reached today in my life as a musician. Jazz FM has been a prime centre of support for me since its inception. It is therefore a humbling and highly fulfilling privilege for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award. I thank all who have supported me on an often difficult but ultimately joyous voyage which has brought me thus far down this musical highway.”

Jarrod Lawson won Soul Artist Of The Year. An impressive feat having gone up against one of his musical heroes D’Angelo and ‘the first daughter of soul’ Lalah Hathaway. The blue-eyed soul boy’s meteoric rise to fame saw him playing a sold-out two show at Ronnie Scotts on his first visit to the UK and soon after two more sold out dates at the Jazz Cafe. He  gave a surprise performance of folk rock star Leon Russell’s ‘A Song For You’.

Manchester three piece GoGo Penguin collected the gong for the public voted award, Jazz Act Of The Year. The band, made up of pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner, saw their profile raised after being nominated for a Mercury Award last year. GoGo Penguin’s hard-hitting jazz-meets-electronica was up against the London based Sons Of Kemet and Polar Bear for the award. They play their biggest gig to date tomorrow at London’s Koko.

Son Of Kemet did not walk away completely empty handed as Instrumentalist Of The Year went to their incomparable bandleader and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. Also nominated were brilliant and inventive pianist Alexander Hawkins and trumpeter Laura Jurd.

Vocalist Of The Year was an all female affair with nominations including Lauren Kinsella and Alice Zawadzki, with the award ultimately going to Dagenham’s finest Zara McFarlane who recently released her sublime second album ‘If You Knew Her’. The Jazz FM award adds to her recent triumph as MOBO award winner.

The publicly voted Best Album award went to Dianne Reeves for ‘Beautiful Life’ which beautifully blurs the lines between R&B, latin, pop and jazz. The album features an all-star cast including Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona, vocalists Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway, pianists Robert Glasper and Gerald Clayton and Reeves’ cousin and frequent longtime collaborator, the late great George Duke.

Best Live Experience, also decided by a public vote, was awarded to Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The 21-piece band featured an all-star cast including keyboardist Django Bates, saxophonists Mark Lockheart (Polar Bear) and Iain Ballamy (Food), the irrepressible trombonist and charismatic MC Ashley Slater (Freak Power, Kitten and the Hip) plus trumpeter Chris Batchelor (Big Air). They re-formed in 2014 with specially commissioned new music and shortly after Cheltenham sold out a week at Ronnie Scotts.

The Innovation Award went to the ever inventive pianist Jason Moran who has been constantly pushing the boundaries of the genre and challenging the ideas of what it is to experience jazz in the live arena. Since his emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, he has collaborated with dancers, skateboarders, artists, actors and varied ensembles. As a recording artist he has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator in almost every category; improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation. In 2014 Jason successfully took his first step into scoring a major feature film with the Oscar Winning Selma.

New Orleans icon, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. John was recognised with the Blues Artist Of The Year Award. The six-time Grammy Award winner is a bona fide legend whose 2014 and 2015 world tours included sold-out shows throughout the U.S. and Europe.

The Jazz FM Awards 2015 is a partnership between Jazz FM and Serious and was made possible with the support of Aberdeen Asset Management, Audemus Spirits, CityJet, Conrad London St. James, Denbies Wine Estate, Mishcon De Reya, PPL, Taylor’s Port, Vinopolis, Voss, 7digital and Yamaha Music.

Full list of winners and nominees for the Jazz FM Awards 2015:

  • Album of the Year - Dianne Reeves ‘Beautiful Life’ (Nominees: Ambrose Akinmusire (The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint), D'Angelo (Black Messiah), Chris Potter Underground Orchestra (Imaginary Cities), Polar Bear (In Each and Every One), Troyka (Ornithophobia)
  • Live Experience of the Year sponsored by 7digital - Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Nominees: Blue Note 75th Birthday at EFG London Jazz Festival, Jamie Cullum at Love Supreme Jazz Festival)
  • UK Jazz Act of the Year sponsored by Yamaha Music - GoGo Penguin (Nominees: Polar Bear, Sons of Kemet)
  • Breakthrough Act sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management - Bill Laurance (Nominees: GoGo Penguin, Peter Edwards)
  • Instrumentalist of the Year - Shabaka Hutchings (Nominees: Alex Hawkins, Laura Jurd)
  • Vocalist of the Year sponsored by CityJet - Zara McFarlane (Nominees: Alice Zawadzki, Lauren Kinsella)
  • Jazz Innovation of the Year sponsored by Mishcon de Reya - Jason Moran (Nominees: Henry Threadgill, Theo Croker)
  • International Jazz Artist of the Year, sponsored by Taylor’s Port - Gregory Porter (Nominees Snarky Puppy, Antonio Sanchez)
  • Soul Artist of the Year, sponsored by Conrad London St. James - Jarrod Lawson (Nominees: D’Angelo, Lalah Hathaway)
  • PPL Lifetime Achievement Award - Hugh Masekela




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