Australian Jazz Bell Awards 2016
The word is well and truly out on this year’s winners of the Australian Jazz Bell Awards and the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame recipient. The awards ceremony at Bird’s Basement on Monday 20 June were photographed and filmed by so many that it was often difficult for those at the tables to catch sight of those handing over the awards, the prize winners and the performers — which included the “house band” and winning artists.
This was the first of the Bells, named in honour of one of the greats in Australian jazz — the late Graeme Bell, MBE AO — to be held at Albert Dadon’s relatively new venue Bird’s Basement and the host showed obvious pride in his establishment and its capability to host such an event.
It worked pretty well. The food was excellent, wine flowed freely and Dadon even told the punters to keep quiet and listen while the band — Phil Turcio on piano, Philip Rex on bass and Darryn Farrugia on drums — delivered upbeat and strong jazz. There was a good roll-up and, if anything, the numbers at each table, coupled with the fairly large chairs, meant there was less circulation by guests than in previous years because it was hard for some to get out of their seats easily.
The lighting — which I appreciate is not the point of the night — was nevertheless pretty awful, so that speakers at the mic were backlit by the screen behind and not lit at all from the front. (Those of us taking some photographs notice these things.)
This year, for the first time, nominations were accepted from voting members of the Australian Jazz Academy and the shortlist of nominees in each category judged by critics and jazz professionals from Australia and overseas.
Judges were Albert Dadon AM, Adrian Jackson, Martin Jackson, Gerry Koster, John McBeath, Carl Griffin, Thomas Glagow and Laurence Donahue-Greene.
Here are a few shots of the winners:
(I have left the other nominees in the list because they came close and deserve to share some glory.)
Best Australian Jazz Ensemble
Winner: Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra – 2015 Live Performance Compilation
• Daniel Susnjar – The Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group
• Mace Francis Orchestra – Music For Average Photography
Best Australian Small Jazz Band (Up to 6 members)
Winner: Allan Browne Quintet – Ithaca Bound
• Barney McAll + A.S.I.O. (Australian Symbiotic Improvisers Orbit) – Mooroolbark
• Alister Spence Trio – Alister Spence Trio: Live
Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year (Musicians up to and including 25 years of age)
Winner: Olivia Chindamo – Keep An Eye On Spring
• James McLean – Counter Clockwork
• Niran Dasika – Manticore (Phantom)
Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album
Winner: Kristin Berardi – Where Or When
• Vince Jones + Paul Grabowsky – Provenance
• Olivia Chindamo – Keep An Eye On Spring
Best Produced Album
Winners: Mike Nock/ Laurence Pike – Beginning And End of Knowing
• Barney McAll – Mooroolbark
• Angela Davis – Lady Luck
Best Australian Jazz Song/Composition of the Year
Winner: Barney McAll – Nectar Spur (Mooroolbark)
• Julien Wilson Quartet – Weeping Willow (This Narrow Isthmus)
• Angela Davis – A thousand Feet from Bergen Street (Lady Luck)
Best Instrumental Jazz Album
Winner: Barney McAll – Mooroolbark
• Angela Davis – Lady Luck
• Julien Wilson Quartet – This Narrow Isthmus
When the Hall of Fame inductee was announced, Joe Chindamo spoke for a while and then invited daughter Olivia to join him to perform. That was a fitting way to end the night.
That’s about it for the evening, folks. Congratulations to those who came first and also to the runners up. It was my birthday and I left fairly early, so I have no gossip to impart.
My thanks to Prue Bassett.
I hope to post a few more images soon.
Visit the Bell Awards website for more information.
Can’t help but noticing a distinctly Melbourne edge to the whole event.