Jazz piano student Reuben James has won the Rising Star category in the 2014 British Jazz Awards.
Reuben tweeted the news on 24 November: ““Can't believe I've won the British jazz award for rising star. Let the celebrations commence.” And on Instagram – “…literally overwhelmed... thanks to everyone who voted for me. Honoured to have even been in the running... My first award!”
Founded in 1987, the British Jazz Awards celebrate the top jazz musicians in the country. Past Trinity Laban alumni nominations include Steve Waterman and Lewis Wright.
Although still a student at Trinity Laban, Reuben is already attracting compliments from the world’s jazz greats: Wynton Marsalis says: “We haven’t heard anything like this in New York for over twenty years” and The Times says Reuben is “…fast becoming Britain’s best young jazz pianist”. Influenced by jazz, gospel, neo soul, hip hop, RnB and classical music, Reuben was the pianist for the late great jazz trumpeter and vocalist Abram Wilson and has also supported saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
In an earlier interview, Reuben said: “Trinity Laban has been a great experience. The Head of Jazz, Simon Purcell, is a fantastic mentor and teacher – he has given me so much music to play, I now have things to practise for the next ten years!”
Other Trinity Laban successes at the Awards include alumni Steve Waterman (trumpet) and Steve Brown (drums).
This has been a great year of success for the conservatoire’s Jazz Department, one of the largest in the UK. Already this year, Trinity Laban students and alumni have won the Nottingham International Jazz Piano Festival Competition, the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ 2014 Young Jazz Musician Award, the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, the UK Emerging Excellence Award and the European Young Jazz Artists’ Award.
Picture – Reuben James. Photography credit: Benjamin Amure