Birmingham Conservatoire have cause to celebrate this summer, having just announced that both a current student and graduate have been shortlisted for the Musicians’ Company Young Jazz Artist Award 2016.
Chosen from more than 50 nominees, undergraduate pianist Elliott Sansom and alumnus double bassist Daniel Casimir were both named as finalists for the Award along with four other talented competitors. Each finalist will compete in a live competition performance in September, with the winner selected by majority vote of all those present at the gig – from Musicians’ Company members, to jazz journalists, educators and members of the public.
Not only does the lucky winner receive a prestigious medal and cheque for £500, they get the unique opportunity to play a live date in Central London with a band of their choice. With such high stakes, it would appear that there is literally everything to play for!
But who are these two polished performers up for the prize? Born in 1994, Elliott Sansom grew up in a musical family in Solihull, and from a young age was exposed to different types of music – particularly blues – and became intrigued by the music of Ray Charles. Never far away from a piano, Elliott began experimenting with the instrument at five years old after showing a keen interest when hearing his mother and grandma playing. In 2012 he gained a place studying jazz with the Junior Conservatoire at Birmingham Conservatoire, and a year later went on to begin the Conservatoire’s undergraduate jazz course. Earlier this year, Elliott was also named as a finalist in the BBC Young Musician Jazz Award. From writing with his Trio band, to collaborating with his older brother in setting up a recording studio space, it seems that Elliott hardly has time to breathe. When asked about the final, he expressed his excitement:
I’m really looking forward to playing! The unusual format means that it’s shaping up to be a fun gig for us as performers and the audience.
Jeremy Price, the Head of Jazz at the Birmingham Conservatoire, called Elliott a “major jazz talent”, with an improvisation style that never fails to be engaging, warm and interactive. Set to graduate from the Conservatoire this year, Elliott will soon take his place on the wider professional music stage.
Fellow finalist Daniel Casimir graduated with a First from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2013, and has since gone on to make waves in the London music scene, performing regularly in respected venues across the capital. During his time at Birmingham Conservatoire, Daniel was taught by legendary Miles Davis’ bassist Dave Holland and has played with Grammy-nominated saxophonist Chris Potter. He has performed in several jazz festivals including London Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Love Supreme. With what Jeremy Price called Daniel’s “assured sense of groove and swing”, the young musician is sure to pack a punch in the final this year.
Both musicians will be going for the prize on the evening of Sunday 25th September at London’s Pizza Express Dean Street Jazz Club. Watch this space to see if either of them walks away with the coveted Musicians’ Company Young Jazz Artist Award!