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Announcing 2020’s Best Jazz Artist And Best Jazz Composition Winners

Today we celebrate the winners of the Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tautito Toa | Best Jazz Artist and the APRA Best Jazz Composition.

Dixon Nacey was awarded Best Jazz Artist Tui for his 2019 album The Edge of Chaos, while Jake Baxendale received the APRA Best Jazz Composition award for his work ‘Tui’.

These awards would normally be celebrated at a ceremony as part of the Wellington Jazz Festival. Unfortunately, the festival was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the winners were announced live on Radio New Zealand’s Music 101 this afternoon.

During a 27-year long career, Dixon Nacey has worked with some of the finest local and international musicians across a wide range of genres – and now adds the Tui for Best Jazz Artist to his mantle.

For his debut as bandleader, the 2019 album The Edge of Chaos featured a raft of talented musicians including Dixon on guitar, Roger Manins (saxophone), Kevin Field (piano), Olivier Holland (bass) and Andy Keegan (drums) across seven outstanding songs.

Jake Baxendale is no stranger to the Jazz Awards or the upper echelons of the Aotearoa jazz community. As a saxophonist and composer for two stalwart ensembles – Antipodes, and The Jac - he has been a finalist in both categories multiple times.

This year he’s being recognised for his composition ‘Tui’, which is part of the brand-new album The Gathering released by The Jac yesterday.

‘Tui’ is a bold, seductive, rhythmic work for the luminary 8-piece ensemble (Matthew Allison – trombone, Shaun Anderson – drummer, Alexis French – trumpet, Nick Tipping – bass, Chris Buckland – saxophones, Daniel Millward – piano, Callum Allardice – guitar, Jake Baxendale – saxophones) which highlights their collaborative prowess.

Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan says: “Every year, the calibre of our finalists for Te Kaipuoro Tautito Toa continues to impress. Safe to say, this year’s winner Dixon has paved an impressive career so far and I’m excited to see what he tackles next.”

APRA AMCOS Head of New Zealand Operations Ant Healey says: “The incredible craft and imagination on display in this year’s finalists and winners is continued testament to the quiet hard work of the composers and musicians in our jazz community. The range, expansive vision, and joyful expression in Jake Baxendale’s composition deserves to be celebrated.”

Wellington Jazz Festival Creative Director Marnie Karmelita said: “Congratulations to all the nominees for this year’s awards and in particular the winners Dixon Nacey and Jake Baxendale.

“We are devastated that the impact of Covid-19 necessitated the postponement of the 2020 Wellington Jazz Festival to November but we know how important an event it is for our local musicians and our music and hospitality venues. We can’t wait to come together again to experience and celebrate our incredible Aotearoa-New Zealand jazz musicians and composers.”

Other finalists for the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist were ALCHEMY, and Michal Martyniuk, while Callum Allardice and Myele Manzanza were the finalists for the APRA Best Jazz Composition award.

Finalists for Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist

Finalists for APRA Best Jazz Composition

  • Winner: Jake Baxendale – ‘Tui’
  • Callum Allardice – ‘Phobos and Deimos’
  • Myele Manzanza – ‘Mortality’

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