Pianist Deschanel Gordon wins BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020
Twenty two year-old Hackney-born jazz pianist Deschanel Gordon was today revealed as BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020
"I had an amazing time playing and hearing the other musicians in the finals. Especially in a year where live music has been stifled, any opportunity to play is very special to me" — Deschanel Gordon
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The announcement was made during the broadcast of the Competition’s Final on BBC Four on Sunday 22 November, presented by award-winning saxophonist, composer, and broadcaster YolanDa Brown.
Gordon follows in the footsteps of saxophonist Xhosa Cole, who won the competition in 2018 and went on to win Breakthrough Act Of The Year at the 2020 Jazz FM Awards and Jazz Newcomer of the Year in the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, with a performing schedule that has taken him to the most prestigious venues across the UK.
Deschanel Gordon graduated from Trinity Laban in 2020 with first-class honours, and is already a steady presence on the city’s jazz scene, thanks to collaborations with Mercury Prize-nominated SEED ensemble and with Mark Kavuma’s The Banger Factory among others, as well as appearances with his own trio.
Gordon impressed the judging panel (including some of the most celebrated British instrumentalists on the jazz scene: saxophonist Nubya Garcia; vibraphonist, multi-instrumentalist and music educator Orphy Robinson; and trumpeter and composer Guy Barker) with a performance linking tradition to innovation, with hints to various musical genres.
Backed by a rhythm section including siblings Michael Mondesir (bass) and Mark Mondesir (drums) of Nikki Yeoh’s Infinitum trio (led by British jazz composer and pianist Nikki Yeoh, the trio accompanied all Finalists in their performances), Deschanel presented his own arrangement of Kenny Garrett’s Haynes Here; a solo piano rendition of Monk’s classic Round Midnight; and his own reggae-infused composition Awaiting.
The socially-distanced BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 Final was held on Saturday 14 November at London’s Cadogan Hall without audience in attendance, in collaboration with the EFG London Jazz Festival and supported by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Each of the competition’s five finalist performed on stage with Nikki Yeoh’s Infinitum, presenting a 15-minute set including their own renditions of music from the standard jazz repertoire, and at least one piece of their own arrangement or composition.
Deschanel Gordon says: “I had an amazing time playing and hearing the other musicians in the finals. Especially in a year where live music has been stifled, any opportunity to play is very special to me. Being able to share the stage with Nikki Yeoh's band Infinitum was definitely a highlight.”
Of his performance at the Final, judge Orphy Robinson says: "Deschanel displayed a wonderful mature sound and approach. He possesses an assured command of different styles, while at the same time adding his own individual touch, flair, and technical competence.
"He conveyed a quiet confidence with some beautiful and fluent dialogue brought to the musical rapport between himself and the first-class rhythm section of Mark and Michael Mondesir. It will be interesting to watch Deschanel's progress as he builds what looks like a very promising future.”
The other BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 Finalists are: 21 year-old saxophonist Matt Carmichael, from Glasgow and currently a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; 20 year-old saxophonist Alex Clarke, born in South Cheshire and already taking her first steps in the world of professional music; 21 year-old guitarist Ralph Porrett, from Telford, Shropshire and currently a student at Guildhall School of Music and Drama; and 18 year-old double bassist Kielan Sheard, originally from Hertfordshire, who has just joined Trinity Laban.
Jan Younghusband, Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning, says: “We are so happy to be able to support such incredible talent again this year, and it is so exciting to see so many brilliant young artists coming to Jazz. We congratulate Deschanel and wish him and the other musicians the very best for their future.”
EFG London Jazz Festival Director , Pelin Opcin says: “BBC Young Jazz Musician puts jazz and young musicians into the public eye and we are thrilled to have presented the Finals within the Festival again this year. Congratulations to all participants, who were exceptionally talented, especially the winner Deschanel Gordon with his distinctive playing and sound.”
In addition to the television coverage on BBC Four, now available on BBC iPlayer for 12 months, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting highlights of the Final in J to Z - a weekly programme exploring new sounds with classic recordings and exclusive sessions - on Saturday 28 November.
The celebration of inspiring young British musical talent continues on BBC Four in Spring 2021 with the BBC Young Musician 2020 classical Semi-Final & Grand Final, with the Category Finals available on BBC iPlayer in the run up to the competition’s climax.
Recorded pre-lockdown at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, the Semi-Final will see the five category finalists (17 year-old pianist Thomas Luke; 19 year-old oboist Ewan Millar; 18 year-old French horn player Annemarie Federle; 17 year-old percussionist Fang Zhang; and 19 year-old violinist Coco Tomita) perform to gain a place in the Grand Final.
BBC Young Musician and BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 are managed and produced by BBC Studios Music and Entertainment Wales.
Source BBC Four
November 24, 2020 4:10am ET by BBC Four