This year's finalists for Best Jazz Artist and Best Jazz Composition have been announced by Recorded Music New Zealand and APRA AMCOS NZ.
Saxophonist and composer Lucien Johnson leads the nominations as a finalist in both categories, off the back of his new album Wax///Wane. He's joined in the Best Jazz Artist category by Wellington 8-piece The Jac, and laid-back quartet Unwind.
In the Best Jazz Composition category, Johnson is joined by former winners Anita Schwabe for her piece 'August Augmentation', and Callum Allardice for his tune 'Dark Love'.
The winners of each award will be announced as part of the Wellington Jazz Festival opening event on 8th June.
Finalists for Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tautito Toa | Best Jazz Music Artist
- The Jac – A Gathering
- Lucien Johnson – Wax//Wane
- Unwind – Saffron
Finalists for APRA Best Jazz Composition
- Anita Schwabe – ‘August Augmentation’
- Callum Allardice – ‘Dark Love’
- Lucien Johnson – ‘Blue Rain’
Check out Inside Out for more info! Nick Tipping takes a deep dive into this year's nominees and their chances.
Best Jazz Artist 2021:
Nominated for both Best Jazz Artist and Best Jazz Composition in 2021, Lucien Johnson is a well-known name in the Aotearoa jazz scene.
Described as “a saxophonist and composer of rare excellence and mettle”, Lucien has played or collaborated with a hugely diverse number of artists including Mulatu Astatke, Alan Silva, the NZSO, New Zealand Dance Company and Borderline Arts Ensemble.
He’s nominated for Best Jazz Artist for his album Wax///Wane and Best Jazz Composition for his piece ‘Blue Rain’.
Local jazz octet The Jac have been performing original music since 2011, including tours in New Zealand, Australia and South Korea and have featured in the Wellington Jazz Festival, National Jazz and Blues Festival, and Jarasum International Jazz Festival.
Their debut album Nerve was nominated for Best Jazz Album in 2014. And now A Gathering marks a decade of making music together - showcasing their intricate and immersive compositions, tight ensemble playing, and assertive, individual improvising voices.
Made up of renowned jazz musicians Hayden Chisholm (saxophone, sruti box, throat singing), Norman Meehan (piano), Paul Dyne (bass) and Julien Dyne (drums), jazz quartet Unwind are the third finalist for the Best Jazz Artist Tūī for their album Saffron.
All four members of the group are respected musicians with long and fruitful careers, as well as composers, educators, musicologists, broadcasters, and passionate advocates for New Zealand jazz.
Best Jazz Composition 2021:
As a professional musician, composer and teacher, Anita Schwabe is no stranger to Aotearoa’s jazz circles.
She is currently a member of the Rodger Fox Big Band, which has recorded at Capitol, United and Bunker studios with performances at Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Jazz Educators Conference New Orleans.
In 2018 she won the APRA Best Jazz Composition for ‘Springtide’ and is back this year with her new composition ‘August Augmentation’.
Two-time APRA Composition winner Callum Allardice is back with his new composition ‘Dark Love’ after previously winning in 2017 for his composition piece ‘Deep Thought’ written for Antipodes and in 2019 for ‘Chungin’’.
He is also in the running for Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Artist as part of the group The Jac.
The third finalist is Lucien Johnson for his composition ‘Blue Rain’, as well as being a finalist for Best Jazz Artist for his album Wax/Wane.