'I don't like jazz but I liked what you guys played', 'I hate modern Jazz, but that was cool', ‘I liked your music! Does that mean I like Jazz?’ Common comments to be heard not only at an Empirical gig, but at Jazz performances up and down the country.These views are why we were overjoyed to win the 2010 MOBO award for best jazz act. How often does British jazz get an audience of millions? If a handful of people come to our gigs, or pick up an album or log on to londonjazz.blogspot then the MOBO jazz award is validated.Our trip up to the award ceremony last week was fun, if a little terrifying! The 4 of us, our manager Danielle and assistant Laura, record label rep Simon, special guest Julian Siegel, photographer extraordinaire William Ellis, and Shane's brother John Paul were met by a red carpet reception, screaming fans (not for us of course), celebrities, uber-trendy pop stars of all persuasions. We were experiencing a different world! Fortunately the new suits provided us with the confidence essential to make the most of an overwhelming evening, and long after party.BBC presenter Reggie Yates hosted the show (alongside Alesha Dixon) and also announced jazz award. BBC 3 viewers would have heard his quip '...try not to fall asleep during the Jazz award...' inciting sharp intakes of breath on the Empirical table. When we heard ‘…give it up for…Empirical!’, I became more nervous than when playing at the Barbican, QEH or my first school concert in front of attentive parents: I was to make the acceptance speech (no pressure).With award in hand, I had to bring Reggie up to speed - '...one more thing yeah, Reggie, come to on of our gigs, you won't fall asleep man...you'll be cool!' Smiles, jokes and a shake of the hand ensued, all tastefully edited out for BBC 1 viewers.But in all seriousness, the mainstream power if the MOBOs should not be underestimated. We were thankful for a brief moment, but for all those fans, hanging on the presenters and pop stars every word, Jazz is once again stereotyped and marginalised. Not helpful for the survival of Britain’s 'hidden musical wealth' especially in such bleak economic times.So bring it on Reggie and everyone who believes in the MOBO awards. Get to a gig this year, have your British Jazz misconceptions challenged. You never know, you might enjoy it!
Current mood:ecstaticWe'd just like to say a massive, massive thank you to everyone who voted for us to win Best Jazz Act at this year's MOBO Awards!! Your support means so much.
I was extremely pleased and blessed to take part in this years Worshipful Company Award.I pretty much knew how it worked with the audience voting for the band member of their choice having spoken to Shaney who won it last year. More than anything I just really looked forward to playing with great young musicians.Other than Tom the only other member of the band I had played with was Ross Stanley at the piano, and these instances had only been in a jam session setting. It was great to finally play a whole gig with him and I enjoyed every minute of his playing, sensitive beautiful touch, great ears, strong harmonic and melodic ideas and more, Great!I knew George Hogg (Trumpet) as we attended the same college (RAM) although i left pretty much as he arrived and this was also the first time I met Alex Munk (Guitar). Both these guys played beautiful strong ideas of all kinds throughout and we had some fun trading ideas over various passages in the gig. It's always a pleasure to play with people who really listen and balance their ideas with your own, especially in a 'frontline' setting. Both Georges' warm pretty tone and Alex's sensitive but fiery sound were great to play with. Last but certainly not least was Daoud Merchant on drums who is a superb musician and great guy too, I had so much fun playing with him on the night.We had fun sight reading charts by Daoud and George and filled out the rest of the two sets with some standards, which featured lovely playing from all the guys.At the end of the evening I was surprised to say the least to be announced 'winner'. The real blessing was playing with these killing cats, and I look forward to more future meetings with all of them.All in all it was just a lot of fun to be involved in and quite inspirational for me too, listening to and playing with five exceptional gentlemen!Oh, forgot to mention Tom's a bit special too! :)