A thriller for Quincy Jones as jazz awards honour giant of 20th century

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They were born in the same hour as each other on 14 March 1933 and became friends when they both worked on the classic 1960s movie, The Italian Job.

Sir Michael Caine and the music legend Quincy Jones, who wrote the film score, have since celebrated many birthdays and special occasions together. So the veteran actor proved the perfect presenter at the sixth annual BBC Radio Jazz Awards last night when the musician was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Quincy Jones began his career as a jazz trumpeter before expanding into writing film scores, producing Michael Jackson's bestselling album Thriller, and winning 26 Grammy awards.

But in the ceremony organised by Radio 2 and Radio 3 in London last night, Jones returned to his roots, conducting a big band in some of his own arrangements including "Soul Bosa Nova" and "Fly Me to the Moon", which he originally arranged for Frank Sinatra.

"It feels good to be here," he said yesterday, nearly half a century after his first trip to the UK. "Jazz is the classical music of pop music. In 40 years' time, people such as [Count] Basie, Duke [Ellington], [John] Coltrane and Miles [Davis] will be mentioned alongside Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky." Phil Critchlow, the executive producer of the ceremony which will be on Radio 3 tomorrow and Radio 2 on Monday, said the organisers were "very excited" to have persuaded Jones to attend.

"In a true sense of the word, he's an icon," he said. "There are very few people who have achieved what Quincy has in music as a whole. He's had amazing achievements across all genres but he started in jazz and the jazz influence is their right across his music."

Clare Teal, the popular singer who was named best vocalist over Ian Shaw and Jacqui Dankworth, agreed it was great to have him there "especially because in the kind of jazz I sing, all my idols are dead". She said she felt "honoured and pleased" by her win although jazz was such a "small, cosy world where everyone looks out for each other" that some thought it seemed wrong to have winners.

"But other people think the awards are a fantastic thing because it puts a spotlight on jazz and in that sense they're a very valuable thing. We don't have enough of a spotlight usually. It's great for raising awareness."

Other winners at the ceremony, hosted by Paul Gambaccini, included Jools Holland, who was voted artist of the year. Cleo Laine presented the Best of Jazz Radio 2 show award to Anita Wardell, the British-born, Australia-raised vocalist.

Dennis Rollins Badbone & Co, the five-piece band headed by Dennis Rollins, the 42-year-old trombone player from Birmingham, was named best band.

And the innovation or achievement in new music award went to the saxophonist and composer Tim Garland, whose composition, "If the Sea Replied", combined the Northern Sinfonia, his jazz trio and solo improvisations inside a lighthouse. The saxophonist Courtney Pine presented Andrew McCormack, the 28-year-old pianist who plays with artists including Denys Baptiste and has his own trio, with the rising star award.

Kenneth Clarke, the politician famed for his love of jazz, presented Alan Barnes, the saxophonist, with the best instrumentalist award. Barnes, who celebrates his 47th birthday in 10 days, has worked as a session musician with Björk, Van Morrison and Bryan Ferry alongside his own career.

Album of the year went to The Lyric by Jim Tomlinson, featuring his wife, the acclaimed jazz singer Stacey Kent. They met at the Guildhall School of Music when the former Oxford PPE student had decided to take his music hobby more seriously.

Mr Critchlow said that thanks to musicians such as Jamie Cullum, who performed last night, jazz was now receiving much more public recognition.

The winners

Radio 2 Jazz Artist of the Year; Jools Holland

The Best of Jazz award; Anita Wardell

Radio 3 Jazz Line-Up award for Best Band; Dennis Rollins' Badbone and Co

Radio 3 Jazz on 3 award for Innovation or Achievement in New Music; Tim Garland's Lighthouse Project

Album of the Year; The Lyric - Jim Tomlinson featuring Stacey Kent

Rising Star; Andrew McCormack

Best Instrumentalist; Alan Barnes

Best Vocalist; Clare Teal

Services to Jazz in the UK; Ian Carr

Lifetime Achievement; Quincy Jones

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