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Entries open for Young Jazz Musician of the Year

By David Porter

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Following the success of the first three editions, the biennial BBC Young Jazz Musician competition returns in 2020 to support and celebrate the wealth of young talent on the UK jazz scene.

Xhosa Cole
Xhosa Cole

In a continued joint effort to showcase the most talented up-and-coming instrumentalists and singers to audiences across the UK, the final will be hosted as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival in November, and broadcast on BBC Four.

Entries for the competition are now open, with a deadline in mid-July, and full details on how to apply can be found on the BBC Young Musician website.

From the initial entries, up to 25 semi-finalists will be selected, out of which five young performers will go on to appear at the final.

The finalists will have the opportunity to play with the internationally acclaimed Nikki Yeoh’s Infinitum, led by British jazz composer and pianist Nikki Yeoh and featuring her rhythm section of siblings Michael Mondesir (bass) and Mark Mondesir (drums).

The winner of the 2018 edition was Birmingham saxophonist Xhosa Cole who went on to be awarded as Jazz Newcomer of the Year in the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, as well as performing in some of the UK’s most prestigious venues.

Jan Younghusband
Jan Younghusband

Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning, Jan Younghusband, says: “We are so delighted that we can continue with BBC Young Jazz Musician this year, and give these incredibly talented musicians a platform to perform.

"Encouraging young talent at this time has never been more important and we are thrilled to partner again with the EFG London Jazz Festival to make this possible.”

BBC Young Musician Executive Editor, Paul Bullock, says: “It’s a thrill to be launching the next edition of BBC Young Jazz Musician and again be providing an opportunity for young British jazz performers to showcase their wonderful talents.

"The circumstances we are currently experiencing came at a time when 'jazz' in the UK was enjoying a real renaissance.

"As we begin our 2020 search, we look forward to hearing the latest crop of talented newcomers as part of this new wave, and to celebrating their dedication and fearless art.”

Saxophonist Xhosa Cole, BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018, said: “Winning the 2018 Competition proved to me the power of consistency, sincerity and patience.

"The award has put my career in fast forward and I have had so many opportunities since then, it’s hard to list them all.

"I once heard the quote: 'When the elevator to success fails, you take the stairs’, and this quote summarises the story for me in a weird way.

"At the competition I was waiting at the elevator door to see if it would take me onwards and upward, and as luck would have it, it did.

"Now it’s up to me to get myself together musically and personally - and get to be the player I want to be.

"But the competition has proved to be an incredible springboard for me - beyond any of my initial dreams.”

The final of the BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 is presented as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, event supported by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

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