I'm going to rush in where angels fear to tread. I think the National Jazz Awards judges got it wrong this year! And by that I do not mean that Sam should not have won. Rather I think that there should have been a tie. Sam and Alex both played some of the most mind-blowing jazz bass that I've seen. They played their hearts out and fingertips off. Tom was surprising close. There was a tie back in 2000, when two top guitarists could not be separated. A tie would have been the right result this year. It might be claimed by some that a tie is a cop-out, but this year even the judges themselves conceded that they were splitting very fine hairs to choose a winner. It would not have been a cop-out to decide not to separate the inseparable.
A few passing comments. (i) Mike said that back when he was just a little younger, musicians would have loved to have had bass players like this. But I wonder how many band leaders back in the day would have in fact felt threatened by bass players this good?! (ii) It's not a good look to have a male-only judging panel when there are female semi-finalists and a top-line female bass player performing at the festival. (iii) Steve, I mean Tom Botting won the National Jazz Comedy Award.
The "Nice Work If You Can Get It Award" went to Matt McMahon for his In Conversation interview of Dave Douglas. I've never seen anyone have to do so little in an interview to elicit such interesting responses. Matt only had to open his mouth and Dave would give a ten minute answer. And I don't mean that Dave was a gas-bag (although he wasn't short of a word). What he said was entertaining and illuminating, both about his journey in jazz and his time with the Masada Quartet. It was a pity that it had to be cut short by the announcement of the Awards winner.
The finals of the National Jazz Awards (Sam Anning - bass; Alex Boneham - bass; Thomas Botting - bass; Tim Firth [winner of the National Jazz Awards in 2012] - drums, Carl Morgan [winner of the 2014 Awards]- guitar; Steve Barry [runner-up in the 2013 Awards] - piano) performing in the WPAC Theatre.
In Conversation featuring Dave Douglas being interviewed by Matt McMahon, held in the WPAC Theatre