The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award gives £4,000 and career support to young professional jazz musicians exhibiting talent and creativity with contemporary significance. Winner for 2013, alumnus Phil Meadows, spoke to us about what he’s been up to since leaving Leeds to land the award – and what his big plans are going forward.
Performing to an impressive audition panel of Soweto Kinch, Norma Winstone MBE, Gwilym Simcock and the 606 Club’s Steve Rubie, saxophonist Phil Meadows was the “unanimous choice” to receive the prestigious Peter Whittingham Jazz Award 2013.
“December 3rd was a nerve wracking and exciting audition day”, he recollects. “Having seen a number of my good friends turn up with interesting, boundary busting and inspirational projects, I feel incredibly humbled to have been successful in their company.
“The award is going to allow me to work on an ambitious project involving 25 of my favourite musicians with the Phil Meadows Group at the heart of it all. We’re going to try to break down stylistic boundaries and combine audiences through a host of original music on an industrial scale.”
The last year has seen Phil release his debut record with the Phil Meadows Group: Engines of Creation (released on fellow alumnus Alex Watson's record label Boom Better Records). Played across BBC Jazz on 3, Jazz Record Request and Jazz FM’s Cutting Edge Show, the UK album tour has been supported by Jazz Services over summer 2013, with performances at Bridgewater Hall and Manchester Jazz Festival.
“It’s definitely a very exciting time. There’s the commission of a new ensemble, a compositional and recording project, performance platform and educational programme set to unfold, and I’ll be releasing more information over the coming months in what promises to be the most exciting year yet for my music.”
Since leaving Leeds College of Music in 2011, Phil has been incredibly busy, completing a Master's, and taking the role lead alto saxophone of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. He has collaborated with names from Tim Garland to Soweto Kinch, and performed at the London Jazz Festival, Royal Albert Hall and The Sage. In addition to this, he’s delivered a paper at the Leeds International Jazz Education Conference and writes regularly for JazzUK magazine.
He passed on some advice to current Leeds College of Music students, on forging their path in the growing UK jazz landscape: “My advice to current students is to make the most of every minute in the faculty they have – which is packed full of inspirational musicians and educators.
"Leeds College of Music offers a unique course that prepares musicians to follow their creative and artistic visions through a combination of performance, compositional and industrial modules. All three areas are equally important as a twenty-first century musician and without their bespoke education and insight into the music business I wouldn't be able to have achieved what I have so far.”
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