REPORT: The 2017 Dankworth and Eddie Harvey Awards at Milton Court

L-R: Emily Dankworth, Tom Green (Eddie Harvey Award Winner),
Jacqui Dankworth
Photo credit: Kat Pfeiffer

The Dankworth and Eddie Harvey Awards 2017 Concert
(Milton Court, 23rd March 2017. Report and photos by Kat Pfeiffer)

It is ten years since the Dankworth prize was started by Art Mead, named after jazz composer and saxophonist Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010). He was originally approached with the idea of naming the award The John Dankworth Prize, but he apparently responded 'Don't call it the John Dankworth Prize, call it The Dankworth Prize, because you will get several Dankworths for the price of one'. It was a story he enjoyed telling, and which lives on: his daughter Jacqui told it on the Award night at the stage of the Guildhall Music School, preceding the announcement of the 2017 winners by his granddaughter Emily.

Emily (L) and Jacqui Dankworth at the ceremony
Photo credit: Kat Pfeiffer

The ceremony at Guildhall School's Milton Court was paired up with two-yearly Eddie Harvey Prize for Jazz Arrangement. The judges of the Dankworths were Nikki Iles, Bob Mintzer and Frank Griffith. Prizes were awarded in two categories:

Small Ensemble

Runner-up: Mathew Sulzmann for Castle View
Winner: Matt Anderson for Jig Jag Jug

Big Band

Runner-up: James Brady for Hermeto's Hideaway
Winner: Jacky Naylor for Bilbao

The first music part of the Gala concert consisted of all the prize-winning compositions, amazingly performed by the exceptional Guildhall School Orchestra under direction of the charismatic conductor Scott Stroman.

The winner of the Eddie Harvey Prize for jazz arranging was announced after the interval. Harvey played trombone in the John Dankworth's band, wrote music for him, was his friend and worked together on many occasions.The prize recognizes arrangements of works written years ago, but also can be an originally written work.

L-R: Sam Gardner,  Matt Anderson, Jason Yarde, Matt Roberts

The judges Pete Hurt, Kate Williams, Mark Armstrong and Jason Yarde awarded the prize to trombonist Tom Green for an arrangement of his own composition Badger Cam. A performance of this piece was followed by the iconic Kenny Wheeler's beautiful suite Windmill Tilter, based on the adventures of Don Quixote.

Wheeler wrote Windmill Tilter for the John Dankworth Orchestra over a half a century ago. Dankworth commissioned it from him during a hiatus when he couldn't play. Windmill Tilter has earned its place as a crucial work in the history of the big band arrangement.

Scott Stroman's introduction gave a good account of how the original Dankworth Orchestra instrumental line-up differed from the traditional big band format. The groups of instruments have their contrasts brought out, and are allowed to play individually, sometimes antiphonally and contrapuntally, and sometimes letting them to play together  – all to add colour to the sound. The Guildhall Jazz Orchestra had been distributed on the stage to reflect these differences.

 
Saxophonist Rachel Kerry
Photo credit: Melody McLaren


The legendary, British jazz musician, trumpeter Henry Lowther took part in the original recording of the Windmill Tilter – which also included Dave Holland, John McLaughlin and Michael Gibbs (LINE-UP)

Henry Lowther in Windmill Tilter
Photo credit: Kat Pfeiffer


On the award night last week, according to Scott Stroman, Lowther had brought his diary from 1968 and opened up the pages for March, showing that historic note: "recording with John Dankworth Orchestra". For this listener it was a great privilege to have seen and heard him play with the Guildhall Jazz Band on the Dankworth Award evening.

Congratulations and every success to all the amazing and super-talented winners and runners-up!



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