Don Was, Blue Note Records, Ringo Starr, Beverley Knight, Jacob Collier, Quincy Jones, Sons of Kemet, dodie, Simon Mayo, Makaya McCraven, BBC’s Dead Ringers, Steve Levine, Swing Out Sister, and Nubya Garcia were among the music and entertainment industry figures who featured in the Jazz FM Awards 2019 – the most prestigious event in the UK jazz calendar, which took place last night (30 April) at Shoreditch Town Hall in East London.
Hosted by Jazz FM presenters Chris Philips and Jez Nelson, and coinciding with UNESCO’S International Jazz Day, the ceremony honoured a diverse list of artists ranging from elder jazz statesmen through to the next generation vanguards. Don Was and Blue Note Records collected the prestigious PPL Lifetime Achievement Award, recognising the label’s supreme contribution to jazz history for the past eight decades. Was, also known for his production work with pop and rock stars including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John, and Bonnie Raitt, has been the label’s President since 2012 and played a tremendous role in its continued prosperity into the 21st century. Ringo Starr was on hand to congratulate his good friend and collaborator:
“Good evening everybody, just wanted to say a few words on behalf of Don Was for the Jazz FM Awards. You’ve played on a lot of my tracks over the years… Congratulations, I’m sure you’re all having a great night. Peace and love – you deserve it, love you Don!”
24-year-old prodigious multi-instrumentalist and 2-time Grammy-winner Jacob Collier received the PRS For Music Gold Award. Presented with the honour by radio personality Simon Mayo, Collier’s manager Quincy Jones also sent in a special message:
“My dear brother Jacob Collier, it is such an honour to have you as a member of our QJP [Quincy Jones Productions] family, and I couldn’t be prouder of all that you’ve accomplished at your age brother. I have socks older than you! It has been an absolutely beautiful journey to witness your growth over the past few years, and the only direction you can go from here is up... Sending my big love and props for being awarded with the Jazz FM Gold Award… Keep on kicking on brother, YOLO!”
The night was filled with memorable moments, including an emotional tribute to the late Aretha Franklin from Beverley Knight, who brought the house down with her powerful version of “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman”. The public voted Nubya Garcia as the UK Jazz Act of the Year nodding to her meteoric rise over the past 12 months, and Sons of Kemet won Album of the Year for the critically-acclaimed ‘Your Queen Is A Reptile’; a welcomed feat after being snubbed at the Mercury Prize Awards last year. BBC’s celebrated political sketch show Dead Ringers made a comical appearance with Lewis MacLeod and Duncan Wisbey presenting Sons of Kemet their award as President Trump and Jools Holland.
The vibrancy of the UK’s thriving young jazz scene was once again a key theme throughout the night, with 23-year-old Poppy Ajudha reigning supreme over Leon Bridges and Jose James as Soul Artist of the Year, Cassie Kinoshi, who leads the immensely popular SEED Ensemble bagging Breakthrough Act of the Year, and rising jazz singer Cherise Adams-Burnett receiving the Vocalist of the Year Award after opening the ceremony with a captivating stripped-back performance in duet with Blues Artist of the Year winner Eric Bibb.
The evening closed with an incendiary performance from South London collective Steam Down, who were dual winners in the categories of The Innovation Award and Live Experience of the Year Award for their residency show featuring US jazz giant Kamasi Washington. In an unexpected twist the band were joined on-stage by International Jazz Act of the Year winner Makaya McCraven, the prolific Chicago-based drummer who has been pivotal in connecting thriving underground scenes from around the globe.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Breakthrough Act sponsored by GHS Global Hospitality
The Digital Award sponsored by Oanda
The Innovation Award sponsored by Mishcon De Reya
Instrumentalist Of The Year sponsored by Savile Row Gin
International Jazz Act Of The Year sponsored by Lateralize
Soul Act Of The Year sponsored by RCS
Blues Act Of The Year sponsored by British Airways
Vocalist Of The Year sponsored by Denbies
UK Jazz Act (Public Vote) sponsored by Cambridge Audio
Album Of The Year (Public Vote) sponsored by Arqiva
Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
Live Experience Of The Year (Public Vote) sponsored by Yamaha UK
Steam Down featuring Kamasi Washington
PRS for Music Gold Award
PPL Lifetime Achievement Award
Don Was and Blue Note Records
The Jazz FM Awards 2019 is a partnership between Jazz FM and Serious and is sponsored by PRS for Music, PPL, Shoreditch Town Hall, Mishcon de Reya, Lateralize, Cambridge Audio, British Airways, Arqiva, Oanda, RCS, Warsteiner, Savile Row Gin, Denbies, GHS Global Hospitality, and Yamaha UK.