Finalist announcement for the 2017 Jazz Awards

The Wellington Jazz Festival will be home to the New Zealand Jazz Awards in 2017, where the winners of the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album and the APRA Best Jazz Composition will be announced on 11 June. 

Myele Manzanza’s OnePointOne, Jonathan Crayford’s East West Moon and the Mike Nock Trio & NZ Trio’s Vicissitudes are the three albums in the running for the Tui award. 

And the finalists for Best Jazz Composition are Callum Allardice for Deep Thought, Bruce Brown for It’s A Good Time (To Be A Man), and Jasmine Lovell-Smith for Familia.

One of the three founding members of New Zealand NZ soul group Electric Wire Hustle, Myele Manzanza, left the band in 2013 to pursue a solo career and released his debut solo album OnePointOne. 

Three years later he returns with his sophomore album OnePointOne. With roots in hip hop and African rhythm, these genres fuse with the freedom of jazz to create a unique listening experience. The album was recorded live in Los Angeles in 2014 and has gained great recognition both internationally and in New Zealand. 

Jonathan Crayford began playing piano at three years old before moving on to study classical music and launching his life as a performer and composer. 

In 1982 at just 18 years old, he began composing music for feature films, several of which received industry awards – including Best Film Score in 1990 for Ruby and Rata at the New Zealand Film and TV Awards. 

And now in 2017, Recorded Music NZ recognise his efforts for East West Moon, his second album with Ben Street (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums). Jonathan’s work spans many genres and disciplines, and he regularly performs and records with artists in all corners of the world.

After playing together for over a decade, the Mick Nock Trio, along with NZ Trio, round out the finalists for this year’s Best Jazz Album with Vicissitudes. Christchurch native Mick Nock’s career has spanned a broad range of contemporary musical styles, attracting many awards and honours over his lengthy career.

In 2003, Mick was presented with the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), before being inducted into the Australian Jazz Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2014, he was awarded the Don Banks Music Award – a prestigious individual music award in Australia. He currently lives in New South Wales.

Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan said the 2017 Best Jazz Album finalists have each contributed something unique and moving – to not just to the genre, but to New Zealand music.

“All our finalists have earned their stripes over the years and now we’re seeing musicians at the top of their game, crafting and recording albums that speak to our emotions and experiences.”

The APRA Best Jazz Composition will also be announced at the Wellington Jazz Festival. The award was successfully launched last year, and there are three strong contenders for the prize in 2017.

Heralding from Motueka, Tasman Bay, is Callum Allardice who is in the running for his composition Deep Thought. The song is performed by Antipodes, a creative contemporary jazz sextet playing works by Callum, long-time collaborator Jake Baxendale and Australian pianist and composer, Luke Sweeting.

Formidable piano playing, a silky-smooth voice and lyrics are what characterise Bruce Brown, a Los Angeles native who arrived in New Zealand in 1998 to establish the Jazz Vocal programme at Wellington’s Massey University. His composition It’s A Good Time (To Be A Man) was recorded and performed by the Bruce Brown Quintet.

The last finalist is saxophonist/composer Jasmine Lovell-Smith who has recently returned to live in Wellington after spending seven years in the USA and Mexico, where she taught jazz studies and the saxophone at the State University. Her composition Familia is a beautiful worldly piece crafted from elements both here and abroad.

APRA AMCOS head of NZ Operations Anthony Healy says: “The Wellington Jazz Festival is the ideal occasion to celebrate the work of these excellent composers and pay tribute to the very high calibre of jazz being made across New Zealand.”

The winner of both the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album and APRA Best Jazz Composition will be announced at the Wellington Jazz Festival. The Wellington Jazz Festival runs from Wednesday 7 through to Sunday 11 June, and features hundreds of local and international jazz performers throughout the week.

In 2016 more than 25,000 people attended 140 free and paid events, including sold-out international headliners Wayne Shorter Quartet and Snarky Puppy.