National Jazz Awards finalists announced; $12,000 to be awarded to winner in November

Not too long ago, we delved into the long-established Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues and the accompanying National Jazz Awards. Now in its 28th year, the event is set to draw many to the country Victorian town this November 3rd-5th for a weekend of exemplary live music from some of Australia’s best, as well as some renowned international names.

For the National Jazz Awards, this year, the competition has seen 10 finalists emerge after months’ worth of submissions saw judges determine the top crop of brass players to be in the running for the grand prize, to be unveiled at the festival on November 5th. An integral part of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues since 1990, the National Jazz Awards will bring the winner exposure, a nice prize cheque of $12,000 and the opportunity to be flown to the Netherlands to perform at the Sena International Jazz Laureate Festival.

This year, the Top 10 finalists for the awards represent heavily for Melbourne, while entrants from Sydney, Perth and Adelaide also made it through to the finals:

Thomas Avgenicos (Sydney)
Josh Bennier (Melbourne)
Niran Dasika (Melbourne/Japan)
Simon Ferenci (Sydney)
James Macaulay (Melbourne)
Ricki Malet (Perth)
Eamon McNelis (Melbourne)
Joe O’Connor (Melbourne)
Alex Taylor (Adelaide)
Patrick Thiele (Melbourne)

Along with the above prizes, the winner and runners up will have their compositions featured in the Australian Jazz Real Book, while ABC Jazz and Pughouse Studio recording sessions are also included in the mix. New guidelines for the National Jazz Awards this year saw all entrants submit a record percentage of original Australian compositions, a highlight of the competition’s progression, according to festival Co-Artistic Director Adam Simmons.

“With the breadth and depth of this year’s finalists, there is no doubt that the 2017 National Jazz Awards will be a highlight of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues. The introduction of new guidelines that ensure over 66% of the music played by finalists are Australian compositions will only strengthen the musical delights of this year’s showings.”

For more information about the competition and the Wangaratta festival itself, visit


Photo: Dukas Ju/


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