2021 National Jazz Awards

Hear from our Artistic Co-Director Eugene Ball.

Category: Piano

UPDATE: The closing date for submissions to the National Jazz Awards has been extended to 11.59pm on Tuesday 31 August 2021 due to the current lockdowns in Greater Sydney and Victoria.

The guidelines have also been amended due to COVID-19 lockdowns across three states as at 22 July 2021. Click here for details.

We are pleased to announce that the category for the prestigious National Jazz Awards (NJA) 2021, as part of the much loved Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, is Piano.

10 Performers will be selected to perform at the Festival, which is much loved by musicians from across the world and has seen a number of talented performing artists go on to achieve significant success.

1st Prize: $7,000 Cash Prize & 1 Recording Session at Melbourne’s famous Pughouse Studios
2nd Prize: $4,000
3rd Prize: $2,000

Previous proud winners within this category include Barney McCall, Mark Fitzgibbon, Matt McMahon, Jann Rutherford, Jackson Harrison and Joe O’Connor.  See all past NJA winners here >>

Entries are now open to high level musicians aged 36 and under (before December 31, 2021), closing at midnight on August 31, 2021
See below for competition guidelines, rules and entry form – and good luck!

If you have any enquiries about the award or application process, please contact businessmanager@wangarattajazz.com or call 0404 248 765.

Competition Rules

  1. The National Jazz Awards are organised as part of the 2021 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, and the semi-finals and finals will be held in Wangaratta on the weekend of October 29 – 31, 2021.
  2. The competition is open to high-level musicians of any nationality. The age limit is 36 inclusive (i.e., if you are 36 or younger on or before December 31st, 2021 you are eligible).
  3. To enter the competition, contestants must submit a recording of three pieces, one of each from the categories detailed below (not necessarily in this order):
                  
    (a) a piece by an Australian composer          
    (b) a ballad (standard or original)
    (c) a blues (standard or original).
     
    The piece submitted for category a) must not be composed by the contestant. This requirement is in place to ensure that the contestant demonstrates an engagement with the community and history of Australian jazz, and is aware of the music composed by current and past Australian jazz musicians.
     
    The blues need not strictly follow the standard 12 bar form. It must, however, clearly reference the fundamental harmonic structure of the blues; the relationship between the I7, IV7, and V7 chords. If you are in doubt of the suitability of a piece, please contact the Festival artistic directors.
     
    Where the piece in category (a) is a ballad or a blues, the applicant may elect to complete the program with an original piece (ie, composed by the applicant) in any style.
     
    One of these pieces must be played by the contestant with a band including one brass/ woodwind/ vocalist, bass (electric or double) and drums. The other two pieces must use any combination of these instruments, from solo to quartet.
  1. Contestants must complete the online application form and include links to their recordings. Receipt of all entries will be acknowledged in writing.NB: Acceptance of entries, and nomination of finalists, is at the discretion of the judges of the competition. Their decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding their decisions.
  2. Closing date for entries is 11:59 pm August 1, 2021. Entries submitted after this date will not be forwarded to the judges for assessment.
  1. Entries will be de-identified before being disseminated to the judging panel. The panel will assess entries on a range of criteria including:
    • Technique, including sound production and control
    • Time feel.
    • Improvisation, including melodic line, harmony, rhythm, structure
    • Originality/ strength of concept/ adventurousness
    • Engagement with ensemble during performance.
  1. A maximum of ten contestants will be selected to perform in the semi-finals as part of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues. Applicants will be advised by email or telephone of their invitation to participate in the semi-finals. This notification will be sent on September 1, 2021. Contestants selected for the semi-finals must reply to the organisers confirming their participation within seven days of receiving the invitation. Failure to do so will lead to disqualification and allow the next rated candidate to participate. All applicants will be notified if they are successful or not.
  2. Contestants must be prepared to play in the semi-finals in Wangaratta from Friday, October 29 to Sunday, October 31, 2021. Of the ten semi-finalists, three will be chosen to perform in the second and final round.
  3. The requirements for the semi-finals and the finals are the same as for the initial application i.e, the repertoire performed must comprise:
    a) a piece by an Australian composer
    b) a ballad (standard or original)
    c) a blues (standard or original)

The blues need not strictly follow the standard 12 bar form. It must, however, clearly reference the fundamental harmonic structure of the blues; the relationship between the I7, IV7, and V7 chords. If you are in doubt of the suitability of a piece, please contact the Festival artistic directors.

Where the piece in category (a) is a ballad or a blues, the applicant may elect to complete the program with an original piece (i.e., composed by the applicant) in any style.

One of these pieces must be performed by the pianist with the band (trumpet, bass [double or electric] and drums) provided by the Festival.  The other two pieces must use any combination of these instruments, from solo to quartet.

Contestants may play these pieces in any order.

Total performance time is not to exceed 25 minutes; no one item may exceed 10 minutes. (A total duration of approximately 20 minutes is recommended).

Contestants are urged to display their ability to meet a range of challenges, at a variety of tempi.

Contestants must assume responsibility for the overall shape of the performance: choice and arrangements of material, arrangement of ensemble passages, sequence and duration of solos, etc.

The judges will assess performances on the criteria outlined in section six above.

  1. Contestants must respect the specified time limits; failure to do so will affect the judging panel’s ratings.
  1. Contestants must appear in the order and at the times specified by the organisers.
  2. All performances as part of the competition will be open to the public and broadcast live via Facebook. Contestants waive their right to request fees for the broadcast but retain ownership of the recorded performance.
  3. No fees of any kind will be paid to contestants.
  4. Contestants may use written charts or scores if they desire. Charts must be provided for the band two weeks prior to the beginning of the Festival.
  5. A brief rehearsal with the band will be available during the afternoon of Friday, October 29. Rehearsal times will be advised by the organisers.
  6. A brief rehearsal with the band may be available prior to the second and final round (subject to the availability of a suitable rehearsal space). Details will be advised when the names of the three finalists are announced.
  7. The organisers reserve the right not to award all the prizes.
  8. In the event of a tie, the Chairperson of the judging panel will exercise a casting vote.
  9. Semi-finalists will travel to Wangaratta at their own expense. Accommodation for semi-finalists will be provided by the organisers (this excludes meals, telephone calls and other miscellaneous expenses), for the nights of October 29 – 31 2021.
  10. The Festival reserves the right to cancel the National Jazz Awards for any reason and shall not be liable for compensation to any applicant or contestant.
  11. The prizes for the 2021 National Jazz Awards are as follows:

1st Prize ~ $7,000 and a recording session at Pughouse Studios (Melbourne)
2nd Prize ~ $4,000
3rd Prize ~ $2,000

All National Jazz Award entrants receive free access to the Australian Jazz Real Book digital edition to assist in helping to find Australian compositions to record and perform as part of your National Jazz Awards application. The  Australian Jazz Real Book is committed to representing and celebrating Australian compositions of creative music.

explore the Australian Jazz Real Book now >>

If you have any enquiries about the award or application process, please contact businessmanager@wangarattajazz.com or call 0404 248 765.

The Australian Jazz Real Book

The Australian Jazz Real Book is dedicated to the preservation and distribution of Australian Jazz in both digital and print. It features an ever expanding list of more than 1400 tunes by more than 350 composers. The Australian Jazz Rule Book is committed to inclusion and representing diversity in Australian Jazz.

The Australian Jazz Rule Book is proud to partner with the National Jazz Awards and celebrate the next generation of Australian talent. More information can be found at www.australianjazzrealbook.com

NJA 2021 Entry Form

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues
National Jazz Award
Amendment to submissions guidelines in response to state lockdowns, July 2021

The WFoJ&B recognises that many prospective NJA applicants are unable to prepare their submission as intended due to lockdown restrictions in place across several states in Australia. The following amendments to the submission guidelines have been established to allow locked-down applicants to submit.

Recording quality

Please note that the initial NJA rules stipulate that applicant recordings do not need to be of professional quality. This means that it is not compulsory to record your submission pieces in a recording studio. Applicants in lock down should bear this in mind—It is possible to submit recordings created at home on a variety of equipment, including:

  • One or several microphones connected to a computer via an audio interface, recorded into a DAW
  • A handheld Zoom (or other brand) recorder
  • A mobile phone.

The key requirement of submitted recordings is that they are as clear as possible, and that your playing is the focus of the recording.

Instrumentation

If you are locked down without access to a piano of reasonable quality, you may play a keyboard on your recordings.

Two of the three recordings submitted can be of solo piano/ keyboard.

If you are locked down with other musicians you can engage them to play on your recordings. Bear in mind that recording clarity is of the essence.

One of the three recordings submitted must include at least one other player who solos (up to three other players; a total of four including yourself). This requirement is in place to allow the judges to hear you comp in support of a soloist.

Existing recordings

If you are not able to record at least one piece with at least one other player, you can submit an existing recording.

An existing recording can be a commercial release or an archival recording; again, clarity of recording is key.

An existing recording must feature you soloing and you comping in support of another soloist.

Where possible, existing recordings should comprise a ‘traditional’ quartet instrumentation (piano, bass, drums, ‘horn’ player/ vocalist). If you do not have an existing recording of you playing in this format, please choose a recording that is as close to this instrumentation as possible. This requirement is in place to ensure parity between submission by applicants who are locked down and those who are not.

In the instance that an existing recording is of duration greater than 10 minutes, you may submit an edited excerpt of that recording.

Repertoire

The initial requirements for the types of pieces to be submitted remain in place:

a) A piece by an Australian composer

b) A ballad

c) A blues

The piece submitted for category a) must not be composed by the applicant. This requirement is in place to ensure that the applicant demonstrates an engagement with the community and history of Australian jazz, and is aware of the music composed by current and past Australian jazz musicians.

The blues need not strictly follow the standard 12 bar form. It must, however, clearly reference the fundamental harmonic structure of the blues; the relationship between the I7, IV7, and V7 chords. If you are in doubt of the suitability of a piece, please contact the Festival artistic directors.

Where the piece in category (a) is a ballad or a blues, the applicant may elect to complete the program with an original piece (ie, composed by the applicant) in any style.

If you have queries regarding your submission, please contact co-artistic director, Eugene Ball: eugene@wangarattajazz.com

With thanks to Pughouse Studios

Pughouse Studios have been a proud sponsor of the National Jazz Awards since 2013 and now they are delighted to present a studio recording session as part of the first prize in 2021.

Since its inception in 2012 more than 150 albums have been produced at Pughouse Studios including by many of Australia’s outstanding jazz, contemporary and classical musicians.

Owner/engineer, Nikolaus Schauble is also a composer, music producer and has worked as a jazz drummer for over 40 years. He has been nominated for many awards including the APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards (for recording).

Niko is currently working on a collaboration with West-Australian sound artist Jon Tarry as well as writing compositions for several European ensembles, including the Berlin Jazz Composers Orchestra.