NEWS: Peter Whittingham Jazz Award 2015 winners announced

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra. Photo credit: 105 Photography.

Help Musicians UK has announced Patchwork Jazz Orchestra and Square One as the latest winners of the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award.

With the award marking 25 years at the forefront of nurturing creative jazz talent, the latest round of auditions saw two young bands each receive a £5,000 funding boost.

London-based Patchwork Jazz Orchestra (whose launch gig we previewed) and Glasgow quartet Square One gave outstanding performances in front of a panel of jazz stars including Issie Barratt, Julian Joseph, Claire Martin OBE and Dave O’Higgins – the first dual recepients of the award since 2000.

An array of talent from around the UK was honed down to a shortlist of ten, still leaving the panel with a difficult task to select the winners. In addition to the main awards, special Help Musicians UK Development Awards worth £2,500 each were offered to Come Back Stronger (led by drummer JJ Wheeler), and fellow Royal Academy of Music graduates Big Bad Wolf

Square One.
Square One guitarist Joe Williamson, a final-year student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We're delighted to have been chosen for the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award 2015. The award will give us the opportunity to develop Square One as a band and reach new audiences at this exciting stage in our careers.” And Patchwork's bassist, Misha Mullov-Abbado: “All of us in the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are very excited about our plans in the coming months and we are extremely grateful and lucky to have been offered the 2015 Peter Whittingham Award.”

The award aims to kick-start innovative and ambitious creative projects, and its legacy includes World Service Project’s acclaimed Match & Fuse Festival as well as Phil Meadows’ Engines Orchestra (which won Ensemble of the Year at the 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards). Other previous winners have included Empirical, Soweto Kinch and Roller Trio.

Composer Issie Barratt, joining the panel for the first time, said: “It was a real thrill hearing so many great players performing such a wealth of wonderfully diverse and highly creative original music. I'll certainly be following the future of all ten shortlisted projects with great interest.”

Panellist Julian Joseph highlighted the importance of the award: “All the bands set and maintained a staggeringly high standard of musicianship for an award that continues to identify and support gifted young jazz musicians at a critical point in their burgeoning careers. My congratulations go to the magnificent Patchwork Jazz Orchestra; a co-operative big band plugged into the spirit of the current London jazz scene, littered with talented writers and players unafraid of thinking big and the Scottish quartet Square One who are a soulful and empathetic band with an irresistible charisma. I certainly left the auditions feeling optimistic about the future of British music and am proud that this level of creativity is pouring out of our jazz scene with our winners demonstrating just how relevant and vibrant British jazz is.”

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