The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has announced the winners of its 2020 Jazz Awards.
Third-year BMus saxophonist Matt Carmichael is the winner of the Fog Arts Prize in Jazz Improvisation, presented to a jazz student who made the most significant advancement in the pursuit of excellence in improvisation.
The winner of the George Duncan Prize for Jazz Composition is Richard Glassby, first-year Masters drummer, for composing an outstanding original suite of music.
Third-year BMus guitarist James Mackay is the winner of the Joe Temperley Prize for Jazz Arranging sponsored by Mark McKergow, awarded at the discretion of the Head of the Jazz to any jazz student who expertly and imaginatively arranged a jazz standard or an original composition.
Professor Dr Tommy Smith OBE, Head of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Congratulations to each of our wonderful award winners. Every year it is a great challenge to choose the winners of our three distinguished RCS Jazz Awards.
“The awards really underline the high level of accomplishment reached by our students. I’d also like to thank our sponsors of the jazz awards, without whom there would be no prizes.”
Marked as ‘one to watch’ by Jazzwise magazine last year, 20-year-old saxophonist and composer Matt Carmichael is one of Scotland’s most exciting young talents. He regularly performs under his own name at the likes of Ronnie Scott’s, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Celtic Connections and has had airplay on BBC Radio Scotland, Jazz FM and BBC Radio 3.
Matt’s own tunes combine his love for jazz and folk, described as ‘music that’s beautifully sculpted and gorgeously melodic with an underlying sense of rhythmical power.’ His quartet features the award-winning Fergus McCreadie (piano), Ali Watson (bass) and Tom Potter (drums). They will record and release their debut album in 2020 thanks to the Peter Whittingham Development Award.
Matt said: “I’m delighted to receive this award and it feels nice to get recognition for something I have and continue to put a lot of work into.”
Richard Glassby’s love of music was sparked at high school in Aberdeenshire, first with classical piano then drums. His interest in jazz began while studying classical music at Aberdeen University, where he joined the student big band. Richard changed his degree in third year to Music Education and won both third and fourth-year performance and education prizes in 2018 and 2019 respectively, becoming the first jazz drummer at Aberdeen University to do so.
Richard has played with several bands including the Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra, the Aberdeen University Jazz Orchestra, The Houlies (Ceilidh band), Serial Chillers (Latin band) and Hamlet, a fusion jazz band. His RCS award recognises his suite of original music – What the Bop, Vehement, Eclipse, Corruption and In and Out.
Richard said: “These pieces were a product of a great first year at the RCS where I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing musicians who have really brought my music to life.”
James Mackay has been playing guitar since he was seven years old.
He was self-taught until he began receiving private lessons from Ralph Thompson when he started secondary school. This allowed him to start growing and developing as a player and shaped his path towards a career in music. While he draws upon a range of influences including rock, classical and traditional Scottish music, jazz is his main passion and his speciality.
He is studying BMus in Jazz at RCS, where he can continue to hone and perfect his skills, while also being involved in a variety of different projects around the institution.
James MacKay said: “RCS has been especially helpful and supportive in recent months, and it’s thanks to this support that we as students have been able to continue working towards goals and prizes such as this.”
Find out more about studying Jazz at RCS.
Watch Head of Jazz, Professor Dr Tommy Smith, perform a specially curated jazz set from home in the RCS Presents series, part of RCS at Home.