Monash Success at 2015 Australian Jazz Bell Awards

bellawards_logoStaff and students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music were recognised at the 2015 Australian Jazz Bell Awards held on Thursday night at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.

We are excited to announce that undergraduate jazz composition student James Mustafa was awarded Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year for his album The Last Sanctuary while the Monash Art Ensemble took out the award for Best Australian Contemporary ‘Avant-Garde’ Jazz Album for George Lewis – Hexis

In 2013, Professor George Lewis was welcomed to the School of Music as a distinguished scholar. As part of his residence at the School of Music, Lewis composed, performed, and recorded with the award-winning Monash Art Ensemble. The result of this collaboration was the album The Monash Art Ensemble:  George Lewis – Hexis, released by Jazzhead in 2014 to high acclaim. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 5.03.30 PMCoordinator of Jazz and Popular Studies, Associate Professor Rob Burke commented on the mentorship of Lewis at the School of Music: “There are no words to describe the extent to which students of the School benefited from the interaction and mentorship of one of the world’s finest musicians, pedagogues and music philosophers”. 

Undergraduate jazz composition student James Mustafa was thrilled to be recognised as the 2015 Young Australian Artist of the year.  “When I first sat down with Jordan Murray to start planning putting my own jazz orchestra together, I had no idea what direction this project would end up in” says Mustafa. “Now over two years later, we have a fantastic album recorded by some of Australia’s most exceptional artists, who are all my most dearest friends. The honour of receiving the 2015 Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year for this recording is the most humbling acknowledgement for a initiative that has been my whole life for the last few years.”

TheLastSanctuaryThe Last Sanctuary features faculty staff Jordan Murray and Dr Paul Williamson, sessional staff Lachlan Davidson, Tim Wilson, Tony Hicks, Tony Floyd, Greg Spence, Eugene Ball, and Gian Slater, current students Stephen Byth and Adrian Sherriff and alumni James Macaulay and Ben Harrison. 

During 2014 and 2015 there have been 6 nominations for Best Young Jazz Artist at the Bell awards, 5 of the 6 nominations being students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music. In 2014 PhD student Joe O’Conner took out the award. Congratulations also go to jazz performance student Jessica Carlton, nominated as Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year for her album Not Alone and  sessional staff member Sam Keevers for his nomination for Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album – Songs of Friends. 

Each year, a significant number of staff and students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music are nominated for these prestigious awards and is evidence of the School’s position on the national and international stage. Head of School Professor John Griffiths summed up the significance of these awards in his statement this morning: “Another fantastic seal of approval for jazz at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.  The Bell awards are the way that the national jazz fraternity rewards the tall poppies who mark the difference. Having two of the eight awards in the hands of Monash staff and students confirms our national position as a leading jazz school. Congratulations from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music to the Monash Art Ensemble, Professor Paul Grabowsky and James Mustafa.  We are proud of your achievements”. 

For more information on the 2015 Jazz Bell Awards please click here.