MPs and peers turn out for Parliamentry Jazz Awards

For those unfamiliar with the event, the Parliamentary Jazz Awards may sound like a gala dinner hosted by George Clinton, but over the last eight years, the awards have gone from strength to strength. This year’s ceremony saw the highest-ever number of public voters registering to nominate the recipients.

Strange as it may sound to some, the annual awards are organised by the MPs and peers of the Palace of Westminster, where a love of jazz, it seems, crosses party boundaries.

Who says music and politics don’t mix?

A record number of elected politicians turned out last Thursday night (May 17) to show their support for the UK’s burgeoning jazz scene with the top prize going to Bobby Wellins, who was named Jazz Musician of the Year.

The Glaswegian tenor-sax player was praised for his enthusiasm for exploring new sounds even after six decades in the business, an approach that has earned him a new set of admirers over the past year.

Broadcaster and well-known jazz lover Paul Gambaccini hosted the evening, which saw some of the best-known names in jazz, including Jamie Cullum, Acker Bilk and Claire Martin, turn out for the event.

In fact, Cullum was named Jazz Broadcaster of the Year for his popular BBC Radio 2 show which was applauded for helping jazz reach a new, wider audience, outside of the genre’s hardcore fraternity.

As well as playing well-known jazz hits, Cullum also gives a platform to new musicians, while celebrating the heritage of jazz and music inspired by the genre. The voters were apparently wooed by the show’s popular appeal which has successfully given jazz a mainstream platform on one of the UK’s biggest radio stations.

Liane Carrol‘s Up and Down picked up Jazz Album of the Year and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra was named best jazz ensemble.

Speaking after the awards, Michael Connarty MP, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, said: “Each year we are knocked out by the consistent quality of the UK jazz scene, with long serving players, writers, educators and promoters being joined by a new generation of talent.

“We hope our Parliamentary Jazz Awards help encourage this creativity and draw others to share our enjoyment of British jazz.”

Would you like to see more of such direct displays of support and encouragement from politicians for UK musicians and the arts?

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