Thursday, May 14, 2009

Associate of a "royal and national Institution"

I received my certificate yesterday as an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. Apparently I have "contributed significantly to the Academy". Not hard to do, if recent graduates include James Allsopp and Tim Giles of Fraud, Gwilym Simcock, Jasper Hoiby, Josh Blackmore as well as those about to hit the headlines, such as Kit Downes and James Maddren (about to do their final recitals), etc etc. Similarly, not hard to do with a venue such as the Vortex and the team there to back one up!
First, it was great to see jazz well recognised in these awards. John Fordham, Steve Rubie of 606, Pete Churchill (as one of the jazz professors) and Gwilym Simcock were also being honoured.
Second. Talking to Nick Smart, who runs the Junior Academy, one realises how much is now being achieved for jazz, in the colleges in general (excluding Royal College of Music but including Middlesex University) and the Academy in particular. Musicians such as Josh Blackmore, Kit Downes, Gwilym Simcock and Freddy Gavita were all part of the Junior Academy. And I was knocked out by Nick to be told that Partisans had spent a day with the students last Saturday. It only goes to prove that what young aspiring teenage jazz musicians are being exposed to, even in a formal education environment, is as imaginative as it can be. Certainly that wouldn't have been the case a decade ago, I'm sure.
Third. On the awards themselves, they are actually really democratic. Clarinettists - and jazz promoters - rubbing shoulders with the bar man and security.
Of course, I suppose that I'm now a bit biassed. But I would encourage people to come to the gig at the Vortex at the end of the month where some of the finallists are being put through the wringer. And it's free!

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