22-year-old Hackney-born pianist Deschanel Gordon has won this year’s BBC Young Jazz Musician. He was up against saxophonists Alex Clarke and Matt Carmichael, bassist Kielan Sheard and guitarist Ralph Porrett, all of whom presented a 15-minute set including their own interpretations of music from the standard jazz repertoire and at least one of their own compositions or arrangements. Gordon presented his own arrangement of Kenny Garrett’s Haynes Here, a solo piano arrangement of Monk’s Round Midnight and his own reggae-influenced work Awaiting.
Gordon graduated from Trinity Laban in 2020 with first class honours and has already collaborated with Mercury Prize-nominated SEED Ensemble and Mark Kavuma’s The Banger Factory.
The competition last took place in 2018, when saxophonist Xhosa Cole took home the top prize. He has gone on to win Breakthrough Act of the Year at the 2020 Jazz FM Awards and Jazz Newcomer of the Year in the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
This year’s socially distanced final was held in November at London’s Cadogan Hall without an audience, and was broadcast last night on BBC Four. The judging panel included saxophonist Nubya Garcia, vibraphonist Orphy Robinson and trumpeter Guy Barker.
Of Gordon’s performance, Robinson says ‘Deschanel displayed a wonderful mature sound and approach. He possesses an assured command of different styles, while at the same time adding his own individual touch, flair, and technical competence. He conveyed a quiet confidence with some beautiful and fluent dialogue.’
BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 is available to watch now on the BBC iPlayer.