George Benson, Robert Cray Among The Stars Honoured At 2018 Jazz FM Awards

George Benson, Robert Cray and Dame Cleo Laine were among the roll call of stars receiving honours at the 2018 Jazz FM Awards in London.

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George Benson photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns
Photo: Frans Schellekens/Redferns

George Benson and Robert Cray were just two of the star names receiving honours at the 2018 Jazz FM Awards on 30 April. This year’s event, which took place at Shoreditch Town Hall in East London, featured a rollcall of music industry stars also including Dame Cleo Laine, Corinne Bailey Rae, Thundercat, Tito Jackson, Esperanza Spalding, Pat Metheny, Kamasi Washington, Omar, Stewart Lee and more, for the annual celebration of the very best of jazz, soul and blues.

Taking place on UNESCO’s International Jazz Day, and hosted by Jazz FM presenters Chris Philips and Jez Nelson, the event’s fifth outing featured performances from an all-female, cross-generational line-up of established acts and rising stars.

Celebrated US vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant delivered a spellbinding performance following her International Jazz Artist of the Year win, while multi-Grammy award-winning US bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, who won Digital Initiative Of The Year, and 26-year old London-based saxophonist Nubya Garcia, who was named as the Breakthrough Act of the Year, electrified the audience with their exclusive performances, accompanied by British pianist and the evening’s Musical Director Ashley Henry.

The matriarch of British vocal jazz, Dame Cleo Laine DBE brought the evening to a fitting finale as she collected the prestigious PPL Lifetime Achievement Award, which she followed with a surprise rendition of ‘I’ve Got A Crush On You’.

Legendary guitarist and singer-songwriter George Benson was presented with the Impact Award by founding Jackson 5 member Tito Jackson whilst million-selling jazz guitarist Pat Metheny was in town to collect the PRS for Music Gold Award in recognition of his exceptional contribution to jazz performance, composition and education. Musician and DJ Goldie, a self-proclaimed jazz enthusiast, was on hand to congratulate Metheny.

“I’m really happy you’re getting this award; you’ve been a massive inspiration to people around the world, and especially to me,” Goldie said. “Who would have thought…? Goldie’s drum and bass music, all my arrangements, all my ideas were looking at your music over the years and listening… The whole world of you Pat has been amazing. God bless and keep going man!”

Robert Cray - Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

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The popularity of the UK’s thriving young jazz scene, which continues to receive widespread international praise, was reflected this year’s Jazz FM Awards with wins for explosive five-piece Ezra Collective, who collected two awards for UK Jazz Act of the Year and Live Experience of the Year, pioneering saxophonist and clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings, who picked up the Jazz Innovation of the Year honour for his multiple award-winning projects including the fiercely popular Sons of Kemet, whose debut major label release Your Queen Is A Reptile was released on impulse! Records in March, while Zara McFarlane fought off stiff competition to reign supreme as Jazz FM’s Vocalist of the Year for the second time since receiving the honour in 2015.

International winners on the night included genre-defying bassist Thundercat, whose critically acclaimed Drunk was voted Album of the Year, Robert Cray for International Blues Artist Of The Year and Moonchild for International Soul Artist Of The Year.

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