RCS student Ewan Hastie named BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022

RCS student Ewan Hastie named BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022

Published: 21/11/2022

Ewan Hastie on the set of the BBC Young Jazz Musician competition. Ewan holds a gold trophy and stands in front of a dark blue illuminated backdrop
© Tricia Yourkevich/BBC

A Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student has been named BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022.

Double bassist Ewan Hastie, 20, who is in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Music degree on the RCS Jazz programme – and is an alumnus of the Junior Conservatoire of Music – was announced as the winner during last night’s BBC Four broadcast of the competition final at London’s Southbank Centre.

Ewan was one of five finalists who each presented a 14-minute set of their own versions of music from the standard jazz repertoire and at least one of their own arrangements or compositions.

Ewan Hastie said: “The other finalists were fantastic and I really didn’t expect to win. I am overwhelmed with emotions. I’m just so grateful to be part of the show and to be able to bring the trophy home to Scotland.”

Professor Tommy Smith OBE, Head of Jazz at RCS, said: “Ewan Hastie is the best bass soloist I’ve heard at his age … ever!”

Ewan impressed the jury, including some of the most celebrated British artists on today’s international jazz scene, with an eclectic performance of his own composition Impulse and arrangements of Tricotism by Oscar Pettiford and Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty.

For the finale, all musicians had the opportunity to work with and were supported by Nikki Yeoh’s Infinitum. The trio is led by British jazz composer and pianist Nikki Yeoh and consists of siblings Michael Mondesir (bass) and Mark Mondesir (drums).

Judge Claire Martin OBE said: “We were so impressed with the way Ewan chose three contrasting tunes which he played brilliantly. He has fantastic harmonic knowledge, great chops and we loved his soulful feeling on the bass. We liked his energy, we liked the way  he communicated with the other musicians – all in all, he had everything for us. But it was very tough to decide – everybody was great and it was really hard, but in a competition there is always a winner, and we felt that Ewan was very deserving.”

Born in Edinburgh and raised in Kirkcaldy, Ewan started playing the bass guitar at the age of 12 and took up the double bass during his time with the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra. He gained touring experience with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, visiting Skye, Glasgow, Belfast and the Sligo Jazz Festival, eventually enrolling at RCS.

Earlier this year, Ewan was presented with the Mark McKergow Prize for Jazz Improvisation at the RCS Jazz Awards, awarded for hard work, diligence and creativity, and was selected to go to Nuremberg, Germany for a European jazz workshop.

The BBC Young Jazz Musician judging panel featured saxophonist and composer Camilla George; pianist, composer and producer Bill Laurance, also a member of the global phenomenon Snarky Puppy; vocalist Claire Martin OBE; multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Emma-Jean Thackray; and composer, singer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson.

Joining Ewan in the final were were pianist Luke Bacchus (21), pianist Nick Manz (21), guitarist Ralph Porrett (23) and saxophonist Emma Rawicz-Szczerbo (20).

In addition to television coverage on BBC Four, now available on iPlayer for 12 months, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast highlights of the event on Saturday 3 December as part of J to Z (also on BBC Sounds).

Interested in studying on the Bachelor of Music Jazz course at RCS? The Jazz department, led by Professor Tommy Smith OBE, internationally renowned saxophonist and major force in European jazz, is vibrant and energetic, and continues to produce successful musicians and new voices within the UK jazz scene.

Studying jazz at RCS offers a high level of training aimed at cultivating your development as a creative and versatile jazz performer. The BMus programme explores jazz in the broadest possible terms, and provides the opportunity to play, perform, compose and record in many different jazz styles and settings. View the course overview.

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