Ben Weatherall (guitar, JWA Jazz Combo student) has won Jazz Quest 2023 at the 41st Merimbula Jazz Festival.
JWA students excelled at the recent Merimbula Jazz Festival, with a series of superb performances and even a bunch of awards. Our jazz combo students won in each age group at this year’s Jazz Quest, a competition for musicians aged 25 and under.
Ben Weatherall (guitar) won the overall open category; Noah Mejia (sax) won the 16-20 years category; and Nic Weatherall (piano) won the 10-15 years category. Tom Vogel (drums) won a (cash) encouragement award, and money can be very encouraging to musicians at any age. All these musicians are members of our jazz combos program where they benefit from structured training in how to play jazz.
Have you ever seen a school athletics or swimming carnival? If you have, you’ll have seen that the kids who win races and progress to the higher levels are almost always the ones who go to little athletics, swim squad, get coaching, and train for the sport. Well, jazz and other musics are like that too. Except that jazz combo traiing sessions are a lot more fun than doing laps in swim squad.
The annual Jazz Quest is run by the Merimbula Jazz Festival each year but certainly is not the main focus of the MJF. It is one of the things they do to encourage younger musicians to become part of this storied festival. The ‘main event’ is, of course, all the bands that play the festival over its three days every June long weekend. Another post will report in detail on our bands fine showing this year, but musicians form Jazz Workshop Australia and Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra between them played 15 times Friday to Sunday night with quality and energy.
Congratulations to Ben Weatherall, Noah Mejia, Nic Weatherall, and Tom Vogel on their awards. Congratulations and admiration to the dedicated young musicians from all our groups: the Jazz Workshoppers, the Young Jazz Workshoppers, and the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Adjudicators this year were Gary France, percussionist, educator, and associate professor at the ANU School of Music; and composer/performer/teacher Sandra France. A generous prize pool was funded by sponsor Bendigo Bank of Pambula and Bega.