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Chamber jazz partnership is Focus of awards

VETERANS rubbed shoulders with new talent at the 2013 Scottish Jazz Awards at Le Monde hotel in Edinburgh's George Street last night as singers Jacqui Dankworth and Cathie Rae and saxophonists Tommy Smith and Julian Arguelles joined a trio led by pianist Brian Kellock to provide the entertainment, enjoyed by competition-winning readers of the event's media partner this year, The Herald.

GROUP EFFORT: Brass Jaw won the award for Ensemble of the Year.
GROUP EFFORT: Brass Jaw won the award for Ensemble of the Year.

The big winners on the night were the new partnership of saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and pianist Euan Stevenson, whose combined talents created the New Focus chamber-jazz project that built on the legacy of Stan Getz with a string quartet drawn from the RSNO, and horn quartet Brass Jaw.

Wiszniewski was named Instrumentalist of the Year, presented to him by his director in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Professor Tommy Smith, and Stevenson was named Emerging Artist of 2013, receiving his award from Michael Connarty MP, chairman of the SNJO and convener of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

Brass Jaw - trumpeter Ryan Quigley and saxophonists Paul Towndrow, Konrad Wiszniewski and Allon Beauvoisin - was named Ensemble of the Year - the title the group won at the 2011 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and also won the Innovation award for its schools workshops.

The Album of the Year was selected from a shortlist of 12 by public vote online at the website of the Scottish Jazz Federation and was won by jazz funk octet Das Contras, flying the flag for the Kingdom of Fife, whose great educator and founder of the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra, Richard Michael, appropriately picked up the award for services to jazz education. Michael has won a Herald Angel award for taking his pedagogy to an adult audience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his History of the Jazz Piano shows.

The Lifetime Achievement award this year went to Glasgow-born guitarist Jim Mullen, whose own jazz-funk heritage includes the groups Kokomo and Morrissey/Mullen, with saxophonist Dick Morrissey. It was collected on his behalf by a member of his Scottish jazz guitar peer group, Lachlan MacColl. A lifetime of Services to Jazz by BBC producer Keith Loxam was recognised by an award presented by Ian Smith of Creative Scotland.

Alison Affleck, whose first album with her band Vieux Carre, Le Debut, was on the album of the year shortlist, was named Vocalist of the Year, presented to her by Jacqui Dankworth, and BBC Radio Scotland's Jazz House won the Jazz in the Media Award, awarded to the show's presenter -- and the master of ceremonies at last night's event - Stephen Duffy by Neil Murray, executive producer of the National Theatre of Scotland, and, like Loxam, a member of the board of Glasgow Jazz Festival.

The International Award was won this year by Dutch violinist Tim Kliphuis, who has been a familiar figure at festivals and jazz clubs in Scotland since his student days at the end of the last century, playing in the style of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt's Hot Club of France with Belgian guitarist Fapy Lafertin, and who has more recently appeared at Celtic Connections in Glasgow.

The Live Jazz Experience category, which pitted drummer Bill Kyle's Jazz Bar in Edinburgh's Chamber Street against Wiszniewski and Stevenson's New Focus group and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra's concerts revisiting the Ellington catalogue was won by the SNJO's In The Spirit of Duke, which features last night's house band leader Brain Kellock at the piano.

It receives a further performance at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall on Saturday November 23, when the big band will also be at the end of its next run of dates in Scotland, which feature Jacqui Dankworth.

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