2015 Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize awarded to Ralph Wyld

-Posted on 11.06.2015

The Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize is awarded each year to a young artist who demonstrates excellence in both performance and composition, selected from all jazz musicians graduating that year from the Royal Academy of Music. The prize includes release of the artist’s proposed recording on the Edition Records label. Ralph, the fifth recipient of this major award, will release his album in 2016. Ralph follows in the footsteps of acclaimed previous winners: saxophonist Josh Arcoleo in 2011, trumpeter Reuben Fowler in 2012, vocalist Lauren Kinsella in 2013 and bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado (whose album is due for release later this year) in 2014.

The judging panel was­ Edition Records boss Dave Stapleton, the Academy’s Head of Jazz Nick Smart together with Evan Parker, saxophonist and lifelong collaborator of the late Wheeler.

Evan Parker said: ‘This year has special significance, being the first since dear Kenny’s passing last September. The standard was as high as ever, but we were pleased to reach agreement that the scope and ambition of Ralph’s music was the one. The range of colours that he achieved with just a sextet demonstrated his clear understanding of instrumentation and band-leading. Ralph has an outstanding ensemble here and the scope of his musical vision was impressively clear for such a young musician. It will be exciting to see where this leads.’

Edition Records boss Dave Stapleton also commented: ‘To meet each year with Nick and Evan provides an exciting insight and opportunity to listen to the wealth of talent emerging from the Royal Academy of Music. As always, the music on offer was of the highest standard yet Ralph stood out as a musician with a clear vision that was particularly coherent with both the legacy of Kenny’s own aesthetic, and with Edition’s artistic direction. The recording industry is currently in an incredibly vibrant and exciting era with a great sense of unpredictability. Ralph’s own look on his musical direction combined with his proficiency as a instrumentalist and composer will no doubt provide huge value to the strength of the European Jazz Scene in the future and we look forward to sharing Ralph’s journey on releasing his debut album.’

Ralph Wyld studied orchestral percussion and jazz vibraphone jointly up to the age of 18, when he began attending the prestigious jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music. Ralph also composed from an early age, writing music for the many ensembles from percussion ensembles and brass bands to big bands and orchestras. Ralph has performed, and had his compositions performed, at iconic venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Ronnie Scott’s and the 606 Club. He has toured China, Brazil, and extensively across Europe. A former principal percussionist of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Ralph has played in the BBC Proms on several occasions. As a composer, Ralph’s work has been recognised through the Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition 2015, National Festival of Music for Youth New Composition Award, and Sibelius Young Composer of the Year. His most recent compositional project celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Ralph has just graduated from Royal Academy of Music under Head of Jazz Nick Smart. At the Academy he studied with teachers including Jim Hart, Pete Churchill and Gwilym Simcock, as well as working with Joe Locke, Dave Holland, Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler and John Hollenbeck, amongst many others.


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