Birmingham musicians nominated in national awards


A current student and a graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire are both celebrating after being shortlisted for the Musicians’ Company Young Jazz Artist Award 2016.

Undergraduate pianist Elliott Sansom and alumnus double bassist Daniel Casimir are named as finalists for the Award, along with drummer Scott Chapman, trumpeter Jackson Mathod, saxophonist Josh Arcoleo and guitarist Rob Luft.

BMus (Honours) Jazz

Birmingham Conservatoire

After being selected from more than 50 nominations, the finalists will next have to compete in a live competition performance. Without a leader, the six musicians must agree their repertoire informally in the hours before going on stage for a show that takes place in front of an audience comprising Musicians’ Company members, jazz journalists, jazz educators and members of the public. The winner is selected by majority vote of all those present at the gig.

"The winner of this prestigious competition will be given the opportunity to play a live date in Central London with a band of their choice, where they are presented with a medal for the Young Jazz Musician Award plus a cheque for £500. This year's winner will follow in the footsteps of previous winners including Adam King, Emma Smith and Nathaniel Facey."

Born in 1994, Elliott grew up in a musical family in Solihull, and from a young age he was exposed to different types of music – particularly blues – becoming intrigued by the music of Ray Charles. There was always a piano in the household, and from five years old, Elliott began experimenting with the instrument after showing a keen interest when hearing his mother and grandma playing.

In 2012, Elliott gained a place studying jazz with the Junior Conservatoire at Birmingham Conservatoire, which provides specialist musical tuition for talented young musicians. A year later, he began studying on the Conservatoire’s undergraduate jazz course – BMus (Honours) Jazz – and is now in his final year of study. Earlier this year, Elliott was also named as a finalist in the BBC Young Musician Jazz Award.

Jeremy Price, Head of Jazz, Birmingham Conservatoire said:

"Elliott Sansom is a major jazz talent in the UK today. His improvising is always incredibly engaging, warm and interactive, and he always displays a fantastic panoply of musical ideas. Elliot is about to graduate from us so he will surely be taking a major place on the professional music scene any time soon.

"Daniel Casimir was a great student while he was here with us, proving himself to have all the important attributes of a bass player; assured sense of groove and swing, and a dynamic creative force playing for the benefit of the band.

"Since graduating it's been very satisfying hearing of his success in the scene through positive reports from heavyweights in jazz who like to book him for tours and recordings. This competition nomination will shine even more light on Daniel’s considerable talents."

Daniel Casimir graduated with a First from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2013, studying with Mark Hodgson and Arnie Somogyi. 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.

Now based in London and studying for his masters, he is an active contributor to the London music scene, having performed regularly in respected venues such as Ronnie Scott's, the Vortex and the 606 Jazz Club.

Meanwhile, Elliott is gaining recognition with his own groups and one of his main writing projects is with his Trio, with Ben Muirhead (double bass) and Billy Weir (drums). He has also collaborated with many musicians throughout the Birmingham area, including the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Ensemble, the Tom Niblog Quartet and the Anthony Jones Big Band.

"I have had lots of support and help at this stage of my development from both my family, friends, and also the Birmingham Conservatoire, where I have been given many great opportunities."

Musically, Elliott is particularly interested in the harmonic and rhythmic language shared in both jazz and classical music, and this is something he is exploring and studying in his playing. Alongside performing, Elliott is currently collaborating with his older brother in setting up a recording studio space that will contribute to his professional development.

Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, will move to its new £56 million home in the Eastside region of the City next year. The new Birmingham Conservatoire will be home to Birmingham's only dedicated jazz venue.

The Musicians' Company Young Jazz Artist Award final takes place at London's Pizza Express Dean Street Jazz Club on the evening of Sunday 25 September.

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