Vocalist, pianist and MU Executive Committee member Andi Hopgood, Mark Batchelor and I attended the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards tonight.  The event, which was established in 2005, was once again organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) and staged downstairs at the PizzaExpress Live in Holborn.

In attendance was a broad array of jazz talent from across the industry plus British politicians and supporters of the genre.  The presenters included the Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, Kelvin Hopkins and Lord Colwyn, plus Jon Newey (Editor in Chief of Jazzwise), guitarist Deirdre Cartwright, Danielle White of Raestar Promotions, Steve Crocker (Chair of Jazz Leeds and Northern Jazz Promoters, (NORVOL), Simon Cooke (Managing Director of Ronnie Scott’s), Gary Crosby OBE, BBC Radio presenter Cerys Matthews and Baroness Coussins.

Compére for the evening was Ross Dines of PizzaExpress Live who said, ‘This has been a really strong year for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in terms of talent and nominations. The well-deserved recipients are a veritable who’s who of names that have made a real impact on the music and helped make the UK one of the world’s leading jazz territories.’  Playing throughout the ceremony was a superb band consisting of Max Brittain, Alison Rayner, Henry Lowther, Diane McLoughlin and Cheryl Alleyne.

The full list of recipients is as follows:

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Zoe Gilby

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Josephine Davies

Jazz Album of the Year: Fergus McCreadie for ‘Turas’

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Ezra Collective

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Xhosa Cole

Jazz Venue of the Year: Watermill Jazz, Dorking

Jazz Media Award: Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann

Jazz Education Award: Nikki Iles

Services to Jazz Award: Dame Cleo Laine

Special APPJAG Award: Henry Lowther

Henry Lowther was born in Leicester, England, in 1941. As a child Henry learned cornet from his father and took private violin lessons before going on to study with Manoug Parakian at the Royal Academy of Music.  In the 1960s, Henry was one of the first musicians on the British jazz scene to experiment with total free improvisation and also at this time began a musical relationship with Sir John Dankworth, which lasted till the composer’s death in 2010. In 1967 he played on the now legendary Kenny Wheeler album, ‘Windmill Tilter.’  In 1969 Henry appeared at the famous Woodstock festival with the Keef Hartley band.  Over the years Henry has worked in all areas of the British jazz scene and is one of only three trumpet players to have played lead trumpet for both Gil Evans and George Russell. He has also worked extensively as a studio and classical musician.  Currently Henry composes and plays in the London Jazz Orchestra, leads his own band Still Waters, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

APPJAG currently has 80 members from the House of Commons and House of Lords across all political parties.  Their aim is to encourage wider and deeper enjoyment of jazz; to increase Parliamentarians’ understanding of the jazz industry and issues surrounding it; to promote jazz as a musical form and to raise its profile inside and outside Parliament.