Review: Third Annual Jazz FM Awards




The 2016 Jazz FM Awards recognised a wealth of musical talent past and present, with Binker and Moses giving Bruce Lindsay hope for the future

The third annual Jazz FM Awards took place on the evening of 26 April in London's Bloomsbury Ballroom, shining the spotlight on some of the acts that have made the biggest impact on the international jazz scene during the past year - and in the case of PPL Lifetime Achievement Award winner Quincy Jones, over the past many decades. Thirteen awards were presented by a range of guests including Soweto Kinch, Jez Nelson, Cerys Matthews and Joe Stilgoe. The innovative improvising duo of Binker & Moses (pictured right) were the success of the night, winning UK Jazz Act Of The Year and Breakthrough Act Of The Year.

Two award winners had been announced in advance: Quincy Jones and singer Gregory Porter, who won the Impact Award. Winners of the 11 remaining awards were announced on the night. Most winners didn't receive their awards in person, thanks to touring and other commitments. Only Mark Lockheart, Australian quartet Hiatus Kaiyote, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Binker & Moses were present at the Bloomsbury Ballroom, although the other winners sent video messages of thanks.

Writer, actor, broadcaster and jazz fan Hardeep Singh Kohli hosted the event but struggled to hold the attention of a large part of the audience. Indeed, he resorted on more than one occasion to haranguing those audience members who seemed more interested in networking and greeting old friends than in the award-giving activities, while his use of expletives notably increased as the evening wore on. He had a point: the noise generated by all of this conversation made it hard to hear Kohli and the on-stage guests unless you occupied a position close to the front.

It was gratifying to see the response from saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd to their awards: the young duo were genuinely excited and proud, generating enough nervous energy to power the ballroom's PA system. Golding made a couple of unwise bets during the evening, losing a bit of cash and having to temporarily remove his shirt as a result of one wager. They're definitely an act to watch (and listen for) in the future - it's worth noting that their 2015 debut album, Dem Ones, appeared solely on vinyl from specialist label Gearbox Records. They're up for a Parliamentary Jazz Award this year as well.

Kansas Smitty's House Band got the event under way, marching through the audience at the beginning of the evening, and closed the show with a couple more numbers. Live performances from singer and pianist Kandace Springs, Hiatus Kaiyote and singer Liv Warfield were interspersed between the awards: however, each act had just a few minutes of performance time and only the stage-savvy Warfield made much of an impact. The much-heralded performance from Gregory Porter didn't happen, as he was involved instead in recording for Later With Jools Holland.

What did the Jazz FM Awards teach us about the current UK jazz scene? Complimentary booze and food are always popular; the jazz community has a wide and diverse understanding of what's meant by "cocktail" attire; and established British mainstream players have had a remarkably uncreative 12 months. I suspect the first two lessons are irrefutably true, the third may be open to interpretation.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Instrumentalist of the Year - Mark Lockheart
Soul Artist of the Year (Sponsored by RCS) - Jill Scott
Breakthrough Act of the Year - Binker & Moses
Blues Artist of the Year - Gary Clark Jr.
Vocalist of the Year - Lauren Kinsella
International Artist Of The Year (Sponsored by Yamaha) - Kamasi Washington
Album Of The Year – Public Vote (Sponsored by Arqiva) - Hiatus Kaiyote
UK Jazz Act of the Year (Sponsored by Grange Hotels) - Binker & Moses
Digital Initiative of the Year (sponsored by 7digital) - Jacob Collier
Jazz Innovation of the Year (sponsored by Mishcon de Reya) - Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
Live Experience of the Year – Pubic Vote - Ice-T and Ron McCurdy – The Langston Hughes Project at the Barbican
Impact Award - Gregory Porter
PPL Lifetime Achievement Award - Quincy Jones


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