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The UK Parliament has many 'special interest' groups, often cross-party and with members from both houses of parliament - the Commons and the Lords - brought together by a shared interest in and support for particular topics. One of these is APPJAG - the All Part Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group. As you will see from below, APPJAG has the potential to make a real contribution to the support of Jazz in the UK.




Parliament is much like a school or university in the way it has 'out-of-hours interest groups'. 'An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) consists of Members of both Houses who join together to pursue a particular topic or interest. In order to use the title 'All Party Parliamentary Group', a Group must be open to all Members of both Houses, regardless of party affiliation, and must satisfy the rules agreed by the House for All Party Parliamentary Groups.'

All Groups are included in a Register where their purpose and officers are listed - for example there is an All Party Parliamentary Football Club Group whose purpose is 'to play football and raise money for charity' and an All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer whose purpose is 'To keep cancer on the political agenda, monitor implementation of government initiatives, provide briefings to parliamentarians and ensure policy making is evidence based and patient centred.' The general public is usually unaware of these activities and the range of groups is interesting to see (click here).


The Register also records any registrable (financial) benefits received by the Group and for APPJAG there are none. As with the JazzFM Awards, these events are funded by sponsors. This means that the range of projects APPJAG is able to stage is dependent upon sponsorship.




APPJAG was set up by interested Members of Parliament in the UK to promote the use and enjoyment of jazz as a music form. The Group has members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and is jointly chaired by a Member of the Lord ColwynHouse of Commons and a Member of the House of Lords.

Until 2015, the joint chairpersons were Michael Connarty, MP for Linlithgow and Falkirk East and Lord Tony Colwyn, himself a fine trumpeter and band leader. Administrative services were originally provided by Jazz Services but changed in 2015 when Jazz Services re-formed as JazzUK. JazzUK itself closed down in 2017 passing its resources to another organisation, MusicTank. APPJAG's administrative services are now provided by jazz musician and radio presenter Chris Hodgkins, formerly of Jazz Services.


Lord Colwyn


APPJAG has been active in a number of areas over the years, bringing attention to the music at Westminster. Whilst some activities of the group have reduced, the annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards, sponsored by various organisations, have been an ongoing feature recognising the contribution to jazz in the UK by musicians and others involved.

Inevitably, membership of APPJAG changes as members of parliament come and go through elections or for other reasons, but there have been members who have initiated particular projects.


Jazz In The House

During his time as joint-chair, Michael Connarty MP recalled: 'The great innovation that started with APPJAG was the introduction of 'live' jazz music in the House of Commons. This started with 'Jazz In The House' which after six years was held each November in co-operation with Serious and Radio 3 to celebrate the London Jazz Festival. It brought together those working in the industry as promoters and artists and jazz-supporting MPs and Lords, to talk about the ongoing state of the jazz Michael Connartyscene, and had live music in the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons'.

'The Jazz In The House event was the first event with 'live' jazz music and was held for more years than the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.  It was sponsored in the first year by Arts and Business, with the assistance, believe it or not, of Ffion Hague (William's wife), who told me her grand-father had been a professional saxophone player.  The sponsorship was taken up by BBC 3 and was then adopted by EFG who also became the main sponsors of the London Jazz Festival.'


Michael Connarty


APPJAG also teamed up with Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), the body responsible for collecting royalties for the playing of auditory recordings, and who sponsored other events with live music in the Commons. There was added prestige to these activities when they took place at the Houses of Parliament with the permission of The Speaker.

The General Election in 2015 resulted in some disruption to the activities of APPJAG. With a surge in Scottish National Party Bob Blizzardsupport, Michael Connarty was not re-elected to his seat in Scotland. Whatever the political implications, APPJAG lost a long-standing advocate for jazz Michael Connarty's work was recognised when he was presented with an APPJAG Special Award in 2016.


Michael Connarty paid tribute to former MP Bob Blizzard who served for some time as Secretary for APPJAG and continued to support the group - 'He really deserved co-production billing. He also chaired Jazz Services for 3 years,' said Michael Connarty




Bob Blizzard




Some past regular events are no longer taking place although they provided valuable support and promotion for musicians and the music.


Youth Bands

Each January, there was a 'Youth Band' event held at the Houses of Parliament. The first band featured was Tomorrow's Warriors with Guy Barker, and since then, others featured the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra Octet with Georgie Fame; the TS Alexander BoneScottish Youth Jazz Orchestra Octet with Tommy Smith, the Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra Octet with Dennis Rollins, 'Hot House' (formerly the East Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra - EMYJO) with saxophonist Alan Barnes and the North East's jazz ensemble, Jambone, with with their musical director, Skye-based trombonist, composer and arranger Rick Taylor.


Picture courtesy of Hayley Madden / PPL


In 2015, the guest artist was bass player Dave Holland. Dave had been based in America for some forty years, but is a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London as well as holding honorary doctorates at Birmingham Conservatoire, Berklee College of Music in Boston, U.S.A. and New England Conservatory. Since his professional debut in the 1960s he has played with a wide range of musicians including Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Hank Jones Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Gary Burton.


The young musicians who worked with him were members of the National Youth Jazz Collective, founded in 2006 by Issie Barrett and for which Dave Holland is the President. Amongst them was saxophonist Alexander Bone (on the left in the picture above), winner of the first BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year Award 2014. Click here to watch the final.

NYJC 'supports the creative and educational needs of the young jazz musician. It focuses on small group improvisation and creates a pathway of progression designed to support young jazz musicians from beginner to emerging professionals through a rolling programme of regional activities across England, the National Youth Jazz Summer School, and by supporting the needs of regional educators and music leaders.' The Summer School for young people of 14 to 18 years of age in 2020 will be held at Repton School in South Derbyshire from 16th - 22nd August.



The Yamaha Jazz Scholarships

In July APPJAG held a Summer Jazz Gig where Yamaha sponsored the 'Yamaha Jazz Scholarships'. These Scholarships were awarded annually to final year jazz graduates nominated by the six conservatoires of music in the UK that offer a full-time degree course in jazz. They were prestigious awards for the musicians and a chance for us to take note of exciting and talented young Yamaha Scholrs 2016 people who we were likely to hear more from in the future. The award ceremony was usually hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group at Westminster in the summer before Parliament went into to recess.

The scholars each received a voucher for £500 to put towards instruments and equipment at Yamaha Music London, plus a chance to record their music at Astar studios for a sampler CD that was included with the December/January issue of Jazzwise magazine. The recording gave the scholars a 'calling card' they could use in their personal publicity.

In 2016, the event was deferred until October because of parliamentary business. I described it at the time:

'The first part of the evening of the 25th October saw the audience entertained by reeds player Pete Long and his Quartet. The Scholarships were then presented before the Scholars played. On this occasion they did not have their own bands present and I wondered how a pianist, 2 bass players, 2 guitarists and 2 drummers would work as a group. With some changing around between tunes, the results were outstanding.

Unfortunately, by 2019, the sponsorsip and the Scholarships were no longer being awarded.




The Parliamentary Jazz Awards

A main and continuing live event of APPJAG has been the Annual All Parliamentary Jazz Awards. The event is somewhat dependant on the business of Parliament. As there was a General Election in May, 2015, the event was held earlier in March, but in 2016 the Awards were back to their usual spot in May. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 they were held at Pizza Express Live in Holborn rather than at Westminster.

Tthe Parliamentary Jazz Awards are a premiere event in the UK jazz calendar and are voted for online by the public with a Parliamentary Jazz Awards shieldshortlist of nominations subsequently voted for by a selection panel of jazz industryrepresentatives. Judging members of APPJAG then choose the winners.

Former chairperson Michael Connarty told me: 'These awards were a joint inspiration by APPJAG and PPL with the aim of trying to recognise people and categories that were not always on the roster of the Music Industry, like Jazz Education; Jazz Venue; Contribution to Jazz; Newcomer to Watch; Jazz Media Award, etc.'

'We ask for nominations from the public through jazz mags; jazz radio, and a wide listening panel draw up a short list from those nominations. Our committee listens in advance, MPs visit venues, and then APPJAG meets and chooses the winners from the shortlists. The event normally takes place in May each year with live music, and a very professional schedule overseen by our guest host - for example, in the past Moira Stewart and before her, Paul Gambaccini have looked after proceedings.'

The Parliamentary Jazz Awards were at one time held on an evening each year in the Terrace Room at the Houses of Parliament with the permission of The Speaker of the House of Commons. This added to the prestige of the event. After the Awards one year I described the event:

'The room runs parallel to the river Thames - you can see the terrace in those pictures of the Houses of Parliament taken from the opposite side of the river. Getting to the room is a journey. Entry is by invitation and as you would expect, security is tight, much like at an airport Houses of Parliament Terracewhere all metal objects are placed in a tray on a conveyor and you are screened while holding up your trousers because your belt is in the tray. There is then a walk to the room through an enormous, cavernous, stone lobby and I am wondering whether that was designed to make a man feel small, humbled. Turn left along a corridor where statues of the great and the good look down on you, across the Central Lobby where the political journalists 'talk to camera' and then down carpeted corridors serving busy committee and meeting rooms that say Parliament is not 'nine to five', and on towards the Thames.'

'As you walk, you feel the age and history of the building but not the enormous amount of wear and tear that is causing headaches for the government in how to deal with the maintenance and restoration work currently needed and the debate about moving elsewhere while work is done. The Parliamentary Jazz Awards might have a different venue in a year or two.'


The Terrace - you can see the blue canopy above the outside the room.


'The terrace room is not large and people go outside on to the narrow terrace above the river to talk and meet. At one end of the room, the Ronnie Scott's All Stars band plays and a small Ronnie Scott's All Starsgroup gather round to hear Freddie Gavita's trumpet solo. In the middle of the room, a temporary stage is erected for the Award presentations. The room is packed with people meeting the award nominees, renewing old contacts and making new ones. I argued last month about how important I think these events are for musicians, jazz venues and activities and the jazz scene generally. A time for recognition of what is being achieved; an opportunity for a coming together of people who make the world of UK jazz happen.'


The Ronnie Scott's All Stars
Picture courtesy of Hayley Madden / PPL




In more recent years the Parliamentary Jazz Awards have not been held at Westminster but, with the greatly appreciated sponsorship of Pizza Express, at their restaurant Pizza Express Live in Holborn.

In 2018 and 2019, a number of those presenting and receiving awards spoke about the reduction in support funding for Jazz, highlighting the difference in grant aid that other genres, particularly Opera, receive in comparison. They also drew the audience's attention to the decrease in music education in schools and the continuing closure of jazz venues. This was an appropriate occasion to point out these issues and there is no doubt that more support funding is needed, but these factors have Kelvin Hopkins MPbeen around for some time now and in addition to support funding, I think new approaches and new thinking about funding support for jazz is needed. There could be benefit in convening a 'meeting of minds' to look at options including sponsorship with representation from Parliament, musicians, venues, business, etc.


During 2019, APPJAG activities experienced some disruption. For three years parliament had been attempting to resolve a referendum in which the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union - 'Brexit'. Although voting for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place earlier in the year, it was not until December that the Awards ceremony could be arranged and by that time, a General Election had been called for the following week on 12th December. Parliament had been suspended at the time of the ceremony which took place once more with the support of Pizza Express Live in Holborn. The event was well attended by nominees, musicians and others involved in Jazz, even though some MPs were elsewhere campaigning for the election. Ross Dines from Pizza Express hosted the event and tribute was paid to Kelvin Hopkins, MP who this year retired from his role as Joint Chair. Kelvin had been involved with APPJAG for many years. A list of the Awards that were presented is below.

Kelvin Hopkins


Cleo Laine



Over the years APPJAG has been involved in more than arranging the events described above. Former Chairperson Michael Connarty explained:

'APPJAG has been engaged in the serious business of contributing to government policy, and even European Union policy on matters as diverse as the changes in the Licensing Laws; the funding for Jazz as a music genre; the need for more allocation of time on radio for jazz music, and the campaign to extend the payment time for auditory copyright from its present 50 years to at least 95 years. Alththough we campaigned for an increase to 95 years after recording (from 50), we only got an extension to 70 years.  The Musician's Union raised over 40 thousand signatures from musicians across the EU which helped convince the MEPs.


Dame Cleo Laine at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in 2011
Picture courtesy of Hayley Madden / PPL


Apart from meetings with organisations who wish to put their case to APPJAG members, APPJAG members have also undertaken meetings where we have had 'full and frank dialogue' with organisations such as OFCOM on radio licence allocations and the poor coverage of jazz music. Meetings have been held with ministers to which people from the music industry have put the case from the performers' point of view. Meetings have even been held in Brussels with Members of the EU Commission on copyright extension and publicity, and lobby meetings have been held to publicise the justice of the extension campaign in the UK parliament.'


Since the General Election in 2019, members of APPJAG have changed. Currently the Group’s officers as at the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 1st March 2022 are  Co-Chairs, John Spellar  MP and Lord Mann, Secretary, Sir Greg Knight MP, Vice Chairs, Alison Thewless MP and Chi Onwurah MP, and the Treasurer is Ian Paisley MP. Officers are: Lord Colwyn, Lord Alton, Sarah Champion MP, Lord McNicol of West Kilbride and Patrick Grady MP.


Looking back, the potential of APPJAG to make a difference is clear. The awareness raised by staging events at Westminster, the recognition afforded to musicians and the music is valuable, and awards such as the Yamaha Scholarships provided an appreciated resource for young jazz musicians. Hopefully there will be those in the future who will take up the baton and reinstate some of those activities and introduce new ones.


© Sandy Brown Jazz


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2021

Jazz Vocalist of the Year - Georgia Mancio 
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year - Nubya Garcia
Jazz Album of the Year - Callum Au & Claire Martin 'Songs and Stories'
Jazz Ensemble of the Year - Kokoroko 
Jazz Newcomer of the Year - Jas Kayser  
Jazz Venue of the Year - Peggy's Skylight - Live jazz and kitchen Nottingham   
Jazz Media Award - Women In Jazz Media
Jazz Education Award - The Original UK Jazz Summer School
Services to Jazz Award - Norma Winstone 
Lockdown Innovation Award - The Globe Newcastle
Special APPJAG Awards - Digby Fairweather and Lord Colwyn (trumpeter, bandleader and previous Chair of APPJAG)


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2019

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Zoe Gilby
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Josephine Davies
Jazz Album of the Year: Fergus McCreadie - Turas
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Ezra Collective
Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Xhosa Cole
Jazz Venue of the Year: Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking
Jazz Media Award: Ian Mann - Jazzmann
Jazz Education Award: Nikki Iles
Services to Jazz Award: Dame Cleo Laine
Special APPJAG Award: Henry Lowther


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2018

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Ian Shaw
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Arun Ghosh
Jazz Album of the Year: Denys Baptiste – The Late Trane
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: ARQ – Alison Rayner Quintet
Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Shirley Tetteh
Jazz Venue of the Year: Jazz At The Lescar
Jazz Media Award: Lance Liddle – Bebop Spoken Here
Jazz Education Award: Jean Toussaint
Services to Jazz Award: Jill Rodger
Special APPJAG Award: Gary Crosby O.B.E.


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2017

In 2017 the Parliamentary Jazz Awards were held later in the year in October at Pizza Express Live in Holborn rather than at Westminster.

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Cleveland Watkiss
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Shabaka Hutchings
Jazz Album of the Year: Dinosaur – Together As One
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Phronesis
Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Nerija
Jazz Venue of the Year: Scarborough Jazz Festival 
Jazz Media Award: Chris Philips (JazzFM)
Jazz Education Award: Tomorrow’s Warriors
Services to Jazz Award: Tony Dudley-Evans
Special APPJAG Award: Jim Mullen


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2016

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Emilia Mårtensson
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Alexander Hawkins
Jazz Album of the Year: Julian Argüelles, Let It Be Told
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Empirical
Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Binker and Moses
Jazz Venue of the Year: Seven Jazz Leeds
Jazz Media Award: Jez Nelson, BBC Jazz on 3
Jazz Education Award: Dr Tommy Smith
Services to Jazz Award: Mary Greig
Special Awards: Michael Connarty and Evan Parker


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2015

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Norma Winstone MBE
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Laura Jurd
Jazz Album of the Year: Partisans Swamp
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Engines Orchestra
Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Peter Edwards
Jazz Venue of the Year: St Ives Jazz Club
Jazz Media Award: London Jazz News
Jazz Education Award: National Youth Jazz Orchestra
Services to Jazz Award: Chris Hodgkins
Special Award: Peter Ind


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2014

Jazz Vocalist of the Year  - Christine Tobin      
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year - Arun Ghosh
Jazz Album of the Year - Troykestra ‘Live At Cheltenham 13 Jazz Festival’
Jazz Ensemble of the Year - Beats & Pieces Big Band
Jazz Newcomer of the Year - Phil Meadows
Jazz Venue of the Year  - EFG London Jazz Festival     
Jazz Media Award - The Jamie Cullum Show
Jazz Education Award  - Issie Barratt, National Youth Jazz Collective
Services to Jazz Award - David Redfern
Special Award - Chris Barber


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2013

Jazz Musician of the Year - Guy Barker
Jazz Album of the Year - John Surman 'Saltash Bells' (ECM)
Jazz Ensemble of the Year - Impossible Gentlemen
Live Jazz Award - The Vortex, London
Jazz Journalist of the Year - Rob Adams
Jazz Broadcaster of the Year - Mike Chadwick
Jazz Publication of the Year - Catherine Tackley
- 'Benny Goodman's Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert'
Jazz Education Award - Nick Smart (Head of Jazz at Royal Academy of Music)
Services to Jazz Award - Stan Tracey O.B.E.
APPJAG Special Award - Elaine Delmar


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2011

Jazz Musician of the Year: Brian Kellock.
Jazz Album of the Year: John Turville 'Midas' .
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Brass Jaw
Jazz Promoter/Venue of the Year: The Hideaway (Streatham, London)
Jazz Journalist of the Year: John Fordham
Jazz Broadcaster of the Year: Paul Barnes
Jazz Publication of the Year: 'Goin' Home: The Uncompromising Life and Music of Ken Colyer' by Mike Pointon, Ray Smith, Martin Colyer.
Jazz Education Award: Dr Ian Darrington MBE
Services to Jazz Award: Coleridge Goode
APPJAG Special Award: Dame Cleo Laine.


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2010

Jazz Musician: Mark Lockheart
Jazz CD: 'No Messin' by the Gareth Lockrane Septet
Jazz Ensemble: the Nigel Price Organ Trio
Jazz Venue: the Jazz Bar, Edinburgh
Jazz Journalist: Mike Flynn
Jazz Broadcaster: Alyn Shipton
Jazz Publication: Jazzwise
Jazz Educator: Dr Kathy Dyson
Services to Jazz: Brian Blane


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2009:

Jazz Musician of the Year: Phil Robson
Jazz CD of the Year: The Sam Crockatt Quartet 'Howeird'.
Jazz Ensemble of the Year: The Ryan Quigley Sextet
Jazz Venue of the Year: Fleece Jazz (South East England)
Jazz Journalist of the Year: Kevin LeGendre
Jazz Broadcaster of the Year: Sarah Ward
Jazz Publication of the Year:
Jazz Education Award: Richard Michael
Services to Jazz Award: Val Wilmer
50 Years Anniversary Award: Ronnie Scott's Club.


The Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners of 2008:

Jazz Musician of the Year: Liane Carroll
Jazz Broadcaster: Helen Mayhew
Jazz Venue: Tithe Barn, Needham, Norfolk
Jazz Educator: Dennis Rollins
Jazz Publication: Jazz UK
Jazz Journalist: John Fordham
Services to Jazz: Paul Pace (of Ray's Jazz)
Jazz CD: The Amadeus Project - Guy Barker
Jazz Ensemble - Empirical


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