Jazzy March Round-up 1: BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year

March has been busy and jazzy although not so much of it has found its way onto this blog, so here’s the first of a few quick round-ups.  Early in the month I was in Cardiff for the final of BBC’s Young Jazz Musician 2016.  My piece for Jazzwise is here, summing up the evening and fellow Bristol blogger Jon Turney posted a piece for London Jazznews here. It was hard not to be dazzled by the astonishing maturity of the musicians – how do they get to that good at ….. fill in the blank, but the age range was 15 to 21 and 17 year trumpet player Alexandra Ridout won, her un-affected melodic invention and ‘in the bones’ sense of groove catching the judges’ ears.

Three cheers then for the Beeb for making it part of the long running Young Musician stable and undeniably inspirational it was too.   You can hear quite a bit of it, interviews with the finalists and a fascinating discussion between Claire Martin and Julian Joseph on BBC iPlayer here for another three weeks or so.

The Jazz Line-up hosts chew over jazz and competition, what the future prospects are for the finalists and the thorny issue of diversity.  Four of the finalists were from London and the South East and co-incidentally involved with The Royal Academy,  either as undergraduates or the junior division.  The quality of the young people’s playing is a testament to the quality of the programmes at the London college as well as their own talent and of course the judges in the earlier rounds were choosing the strongest competitors they heard.  There was no doubt, however,  that the competitions producers were very conscious of how it looked. As both Joseph and Martin remark, its hard to believe that there aren’t great musicians from elsewhere around the UK in different communities. A challenge for future competitions then, one it’s clear the BBC want to address and I’ve a feeling they’ll get plenty of encouragement from their panel of judges including the chair, Julian Joseph himself.

The highlights from the final are on BBC4 on May 13th

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