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Top talent to be recognised at NZ Jazz Awards in Wellington

17 May 2018

Top talent to be recognised at New Zealand Jazz Awards in Wellington

The Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist and the APRA Best Jazz Composition awards will be presented on the opening night of the Wellington Jazz Festival, Wednesday 6 June.

This year there is an eclectic collection of finalists up for the jazz Tui. Hayden Chisholm, Norman Meehan, and Paul Dyne have been nominated for Unwind, alongside Lucien Johnson for West of the Sun, and Umar Zakaria for Fearless Music.

The finalists for Best Jazz Composition are Callum Allardice for A Gathering, Anita Schwabe for Springtide, and Jake Baxendale for Beyond The Palace.

Chisholm, Meehan and Dyne are well established musicians, composers, and music educators in New Zealand. Having worked with each other in various contexts over many decades, the album Unwind is their first outing as a trio.

Recorded at the end of Chisholm's New Zealand tour in November 2016, Unwind features a set of beautiful original compositions. The exquisite saxophone playing is front and centre, but it is the intuitive musicality of this highly experienced trio that makes the album an incredible experience.

Wellington-based saxophonist and composer Lucien Johnson has been nominated for the 2018 Best Jazz Artist for his 2017 release West of the Sun.

Composing and performing with his six-piece jazz ensemble, Johnson has worked on a number of pieces for various media – including compositions for film, television, dance, theatre and installations. He’s also had regular collaborations with New Zealand dance theatre company Borderline Arts Ensemble.

One of New Zealand’s most exciting young jazz musicians is Umar Zakaria. The album Fearless Music has been created by his own diverse musical traditions in collaboration with New Zealand’s top jazz musicians.

Zakaria’s career has taken him across the globe to perform with jazz legends like Bob Moses (US), Hagai Bilitzky (Israel), Rob van Bavel (Netherlands), Snorre Kirk (Denmark), Magnus Hjorth (Sweden), Steve Barry, and Mark Lockett, among others.

Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan said the finalists for Best Jazz Artist this year have created diverse, refreshing pieces of music.

“The wide range of experience from the finalists this year emerges through their unique jazz styles and compositions. It will be an unmissable New Zealand Jazz Awards, and a great Wellington Jazz Festival this year.”

The APRA Best Jazz Composition will also be announced at the awards. Since launching in 2016, the award recognises New Zealand’s top jazz compositions from the last 12 months.

With a career starting at the young age of 15, Callum Allardice created his own jazz group and began gigging around the Nelson area, as well as participating in various festivals and competitions.

Now, after winning Best Jazz Composition last year for Deep Thought, Callum is back in 2018 as a finalist for his composition A Gathering, which he composed for the 2017 Wellington Jazz Festival’s collaboration with South Korean ensemble, Black String.

Professional jazz musician and teacher Anita Schwabe is also nominated for her composition Springtide, which will feature on her debut album Eat Your Greens set to be released in 2018.

Over the years, Anita has performed with her own groups and other jazz combos at major New Zealand festivals, as well as internationally at the Vanuatu Jazz Festival and Claude Bolling’s Suite crossover of Classical Guitar and Jazz with Matthew Marshall, Paul Dyne and Roger Sellers in New Caledonia. Anita will be performing at the 2018 Wellington Jazz Festival.

Wellington-based alto saxophonist and composer Jake Baxendale has been hard at work establishing Jazz Aotearoa, a professional association that represents jazz creators, presenters, educators and audiences in New Zealand. Jake was also instrumental in the 2017 Jazz Festival collaboration with Black String.

He’s nominated for the 2018 Best Jazz Composition award for his piece Beyond The Palace.

APRA AMCOS head of NZ Operations Anthony Healy says: “Every year we celebrate the talent of New Zealand’s jazz composers at the Wellington Jazz Festival. It’s a sign that musicians from all walks of life can create spectacular art for us to enjoy.”

The winner of both the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album and APRA Best Jazz Composition will be announced at an invite only event to kick off the Wellington Jazz Festival, which runs from Wednesday 6 June to Sunday 10 June and features hundreds of local and international jazz performers.

Ends

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