A Royal Conservatoire of Scotland saxophonist is in the running for one of the most prestigious prizes in jazz.
Matt Carmichael is one of five finalists in the BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020, which broadcasts on BBC Four this Sunday (November 22) at 7pm.
Matt, who was born in Inverness and grew up in Lenzie, is in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Music degree. He has been described as one of the most exciting new talents on the UK jazz scene. Jazzwise magazine tipped him as ‘one to watch’ while The Times declared ‘he is going to be huge’.
The BBC Young Jazz Musician is a biennial award that celebrates the nation’s most promising performers. Hosted by saxophonist, composer and broadcaster YolanDa Brown and filmed in the absence of an audience at Cadogan Hall in London, the finalists will play alongside one of the UK’s leading jazz trios – Nikki Yeoh’s Infinitum.
Having made it through two rounds of stiff competition, the finalists have to impress a jury of some of the UK’s biggest jazz names – composer and pianist Gwilym Simcock, saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia and multi-instrumentalist bandleader Orphy Robinson.
Matt said: “I’m thrilled to get to the final and have always been inspired watching the programme on TV in previous years.
“The prize for me is playing in the final and the chance to share my music on this exciting occasion and particularly in these times when opportunities to play are nowhere to be seen.”
Matt will release his debut album, Where Will the River Flow, in March next year. It features musicians from his quartet – RCS graduate and award-winning pianist Fergus McCreadie, Ali Watson on bass and Tom Potter on drums. The album was recorded with a development grant from the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, which provides financial support to emerging jazz acts,
“The competition has come at a good time and playing on TV will give me a bit of exposure in the lead up to the release,” said Matt.
“I know so many musicians who would deserve an opportunity like this at the moment so I feel lucky to be involved and it has been great to have something to work towards over the past month.”
Watch Matt perform in RCS Presents The Magic of Art Blakey, directed by Pete Johnstone and livestreamed from RCS on Monday, November 16.
Professor Tommy Smith OBE, world-renowned saxophonist and Head of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Matt deserves to be in the final, he’s one of the most talented tenor saxophonists I’ve ever heard at his age, and he’ll go very far whether or not he wins.
“Taking part is what counts, and Matts knows this. He’s one very cool, humble and super-gifted character and will enjoy every moment of this superb experience.”
Matt began playing saxophone aged 11 through the East Dunbartonshire Schools Music Service and went on to be mentored by Allon Beauvoisin and Tommy Smith. Based in Glasgow, he has performed at Celtic Connections, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott’s and has had airplay on BBC Radio Scotland, Jazz FM and BBC Radio 3.
Matt has collaborated with acts including the Mark Hendry Orchestra, corto.alto, Luca Manning, Jonny Mansfield, World Jazz Orchestra, Fat-Suit, The Joshua Elcock Big Band, Tom McGuire and the Brassholes and Jesse Dockx.
Other performing highlights include gigs in Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and at Newport Jazz Festival USA, BBC Proms and Love Supreme Jazz Festival. He has taken home the Fog Arts Prize for Improvisation and the Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections.
BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 will be broadcast as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. In addition to the television coverage on BBC Four, BBC iPlayer will host the BBC Young Jazz Musician Final for 12 months after initial broadcast.
Join the conversation on Twitter @BBCYoungMus and facebook.com/BBCYoungMusician
Matt Carmichael photograph © Arms and Legs Studio
For more on Matt Carmichael, visit www.mattcarmichaelmusic.com