Saxophonist Xhosa Cole has been announced as the winner of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018, following the final held on Saturday night as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. The grand final featured a sixteen-minute set from each of the five finalists, which included 18-year-old pianist Reuben Goldmark, 21-year-old Fergus McCreadie, 22-year-old bassist James Oston, 20-year-old bassist Seth Tackaberry and 22-year-old saxophonist Xhosa Cole, with each finalist playing standards and at least one piece they had written or arranged themselves.
Xhosa played his original piece ‘Moving Ladywood’ as well as ‘I Cover The Waterfront’ (Johnny Green) and ‘Moment’s Notice’ (John Coltrane). All contestants were backed by an top-notch jazz trio led by Gwilym Simcock (piano) alongside Paula Gardiner (bass) and Asaf Sirkis (drums).
Following his victory, Xhosa said: “It’s been amazing to represent and have been represented at this prestigious celebration of jazz music in the UK. The calibre of musicianship and passion for jazz music displayed on the stage today has been incredibly inspiring to be a part of.”
Handsworth-born Xhosa has played saxophone in the Jazzlines Ensemble, Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra and Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra among others. While studying in sixth form, Xhosa attended courses with the National Youth Jazz Collective and National Youth Wind Orchestra. He performs and teaches regularly around Birmingham.
The judging panel consisting of leading jazz musicians Monty Alexander, Zoe Rahman, Gary Crosby, Zara McFarlane and Iain Ballamy. Of the winner, judge Iain Ballamy said: “Xhosa’s performance was so heartfelt, sincere and communicative. It’s easy to see he has such a deep and genuine love of the tradition that gave us such a convincing performance on the night. All five finalists were brilliant – I’d be happy to share the stage with any one of them – and hope to do so!”
Watch the final on BBC 4 tonight at 9pm on www.bbc.co.uk
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