This year’s Jazz FM Awards, which took place at Shoreditch Town Hall in East London, featured a roll call of music industry stars including Dame Cleo Laine, George Benson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Thundercat, Tito Jackson, Esperanza Spalding, Pat Metheny, Omar, Stewart Lee and more, for the annual celebration of the very best of jazz, soul and blues.
Taking place on UNESCO’s International Jazz Day, and hosted by Jazz FM presenters Chris Philips and Jez Nelson, the event’s fifth outing featured performances from an all-female, cross-generational line-up of established acts and rising stars. Celebrated US vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant delivered a spellbinding performance following her International Jazz Artist of the Year win, while multi-Grammy award-winning US bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, who won Digital Initiative Of The Year, and 26-year old London-based saxophonist Nubya Garcia, who was named as the Breakthrough Act of the Year, electrified the audience with their exclusive performances, accompanied by British pianist and the evening’s Musical Director Ashley Henry.
The matriarch of British vocal jazz, Dame Cleo Laine DBE brought the evening to a fitting finale as she collected the prestigious PPL Lifetime Achievement Award, which she followed with a surprise rendition of “I’ve Got A Crush On You”.
Legendary guitarist and singer-songwriter George Benson was presented with the Impact Award by founding Jackson 5 member Tito Jackson whilst million-selling jazz guitarist Pat Metheny was in town to collect the PRS for Music Gold Award in recognition of his exceptional contribution to jazz performance, composition and education. Musician and DJ Goldie, a self-proclaimed jazz enthusiast, was on hand to congratulate Metheny:
“I’m really happy you’re getting this award; you’ve been a massive inspiration to people around the world, and especially to me. Who would have thought… Goldie’s drum and bass music, all my arrangements, all my ideas were looking at your music over the years and listening… The whole world of you Pat has been amazing. God bless and keep going man!”
The popularity of the UK’s thriving young jazz scene, which continues to receive widespread international praise, was reflected this year with wins for explosive five-piece Ezra Collective, who collected two awards for UK Jazz Act of the Year and Live Experience of the Year, pioneering saxophonist and clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, who picked up the Jazz Innovation of the Year honour for his multiple award-winning projects including the fiercely popular Sons of Kemet, who’s debut major label release Your Queen Is A Reptile was released on impulse! Records in March, while Zara McFarlane fought off stiff competition to reign supreme as Jazz FM’s Vocalist of the Year for the second time since receiving the honour in 2015.
International winners on the night included genre-defying bassist Thundercat, whose critically acclaimed Drunk was voted Album of the Year, Robert Cray for International Blues Artist Of The Year and Moonchild for International Soul Artist Of The Year.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Breakthrough Act of the Year
Sponsored by Yamaha
International Soul Artist of the Year
Sponsored by RCS
UK Jazz Act of the Year (Public Vote)
Sponsored by Cambridge Audio
Digital Initiative of the Year
Sponsored by Oanda
Esperanza Spalding: Exposure
Instrumentalist of the Year
Sponsored by Grange Hotels
International Blues Artist of the Year
Sponsored by British Airways
Jazz Innovation of the Year
Sponsored by Mishcon de Reya
Shabaka Hutchings: Multiple projects
Vocalist of the Year
Sponsored by Lateralize
International Jazz Artist of the Year
Sponsored by Oris Watches
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Album of the Year (Public Vote)
Sponsored by Arqiva
Thundercat – Drunk
Live Experience of the Year (Public Vote)
Sponsored by Rathbones
Ronnie Scott’s presents Ezra Collective – EFG London Jazz Festival at Islington Assembly Hall
PPL Lifetime Achievement Award
Recipient: Dame Cleo Laine
Sponsored by MediaCom
Recipient: George Benson
PRS for Music Gold Award
Recipient: Pat Metheny