Sax appeal sees Soweto Kinch take best solo and band honours at jazz awards

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The Independent Online

The young saxophonist Soweto Kinch was the big winner at last night's BBC Jazz Awards, alongside the veteran George Melly and the US trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis.

The young saxophonist Soweto Kinch was the big winner at last night's BBC Jazz Awards, alongside the veteran George Melly and the US trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis.

Kinch, 26, a previous winner of the rising star award and a 2003 Mercury prize nominee, walked away with two honours at a ceremony jointly hosted by Radio 2 and Radio 3 which spanned every branch of the genre. The Oxford-educated son of a Jamaican actress and a Bajan playwright was presented with the best instrumentalist award by the singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. He received the best band award from Marsalis.

Marsalis, who appears at the Proms with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra on Saturday as part of a British tour, won the international award. George Melly, the 78-year-old cultural tour de force who sings jazz as part of a career that also includes art criticism and broadcasting, was given a lifetime achievement award.

Most winners at last night's ceremony at the Hammersmith Palais in London were chosen by a panel of 100 jazz experts, including record industry insiders and critics. But one of the exceptions was the lifetime achievement award, which was decided by BBC executives and presented by Melly's long-time friend Lord Montagu, who ran one of Britain's earliest jazz festivals at his estate, Beaulieu.

Terry Carter, one of the ceremony's producers, said: "We pick somebody we really wish to honour for the lifetime achievement. We're not giving it to George because he's suddenly done something different, but because he has, wonderfully, carried on being George."

The best album prize, which was determined by a public vote from a shortlist of three, was won by Colin Steele against stiff competition from Kinch and Denys Baptiste. A former member of the pop band Hue and Cry, Steele, a Scottish trumpeter and composer, was honoured for the album, The Journey Home.

Ian Shaw, the Welsh singer who helped present the ceremony, received the best vocalist prize which had been won by his co-presenter, Claire Martin, last year. The young Scottish drummer Seb Rochford followed Kinch and last year's winner, Jamie Cullum, by scooping the rising star award.

Rochford and his rivals for the award, Tom Arthurs and David Okumu, are all members of a 20-strong collective of performers based in London called F-IRE, which was presented with the jazz innovation award by Katie Melua.

At the other end of the scale, Keith Nichols, one of the world's leading authorities on classic jazz and ragtime, won the heritage award designed to keep older jazz traditions alive. Jed Williams, founder of the famed Brecon Jazz Festival who died last year, was honoured for his services to jazz.

The final award for best new work went to Richard Fairhurst, who only took up the piano at the age of 15. Now in his 20s, he was honoured for a piece commissioned by the Jerwood Foundation at the 2003 Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

Last night's ceremony ended with a barnstorming performance by Marsalis and Kinch. Highlights will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3 over the next few days.


* Best Album

Colin Steele

The Journey Home

* Best Band

Soweto KInch

* Best Vocalist

Ian Shaw

* Best Instrumentalist

Soweto Kinch

* Rising Star

Seb Rochford

* Best New Work

Richard Fairhurst (Cheltenham - Jerwood Rising Star Commission)

* Jazz Innovation

F-IRE Collective

* Services to Jazz

Jed Williams

* International Award of the Year

Wynton Marsalis

* Jazz Heritage Award

Keith Nichols

* Lifetime Achievement

George Melly