Xhosa Cole wins BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018

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22-year-old Xhosa Cole has been announced as the winner of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018.

The Handsworth-born saxophonist joined four other finalists at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre on Saturday 24 November 2018 as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

Backed by a house rhythm section comprising Gwilym Simcock (piano), Paula Gardiner (bass) and Asaf Sirkis (drums), Xhosa Cole played original composition, Moving Ladywood, I Cover The Waterfront by Johnny Green and Moment’s Notice by John Coltrane.

The other finalists were:

  • 18-year-old Reuben Goldmark (piano)
  • 21-year-old Fergus McCreadie (piano)
  • 22-year-old James Owston (bass)
  • 20-year-old Seth Tackaberry (bass)

All five performed in front of judging panel, Monty Alexander (piano), Zoe Rahman (piano, composer), Gary Crosby (bass), Zara McFarlane (voice) and Iain Ballamy (saxophone, composer).

The event was supported by ABRSM.

About Xhosa Cole

Xhosa Cole has played saxophone in the Jazzlines Ensembles, Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra and Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra among others.

While studying in Sixth Form, he attended courses with the National Youth Jazz Collective and National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain (NYWO). He performs and teaches regularly around Birmingham.

Xhosa Cole said:

‘It’s been amazing to represent and have been represented at this prestigious celebration of jazz music in the UK. The calibre of musicianship and passion for jazz music displayed on the stage today has been incredibly inspiring to be a part of.’

‘Heartfelt, sincere and communicative’

Iain Ballamy said:

‘Xhosa’s performance was so heartfelt, sincere and communicative. It’s easy to see he has such a deep and genuine love of the tradition that gave us such a convincing performance on the night. All five finalists were brilliant – I’d be happy to share the stage with any one of them – and hope to do so!’

‘Inspiring and enjoyable’

Past winner, Alexandra Ridout (trumpet), said:

‘Being named BBC Young Jazz Musician in 2016 was inspiring and so enjoyable. The whole competition made such an impact on my life because my playing improved and I gained more confidence as a musician and a person. I’m really excited for what the future holds for Xhosa.’

‘A platform for young talent’

Jan Younghusband, Commissioning Editor, BBC Music & Events, said:

‘BBC Music is absolutely committed to providing a platform for young talent across all genres of music. Every time we run BBC Young Jazz Musician, we see a wealth of young talent coming through for the future, which is so exciting and we are delighted to be bringing their talents to our mainstream audience on BBC Four and through BBC Radio 3.’


Header photo: Gwilym Simock (piano), Xhosa Cole and Paula Gardiner (double bass) © BBC

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