Predictably, nothing to do with jazz won the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize Album of the Year award, but at the awards ceremony, held at the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, 9 September, nominee and saxophonist Nubya Garcia and her quartet did perform a modal piece, Pace, thus bringing four minutes of 1970s-style space jazz to a national British audience via BBC Four TV.
The piece featured a spectacular, period-correct Herbie Hancock style solo from Trinity Laban graduate Joe Armon-Jones on a Rhodes-alike electric piano. The whole programme remains viewable until early October on BBC iPlayer.
Other jazz interest at the Mercury awards, designed originally to represent alternative music from the British Isles not typically heard in such obviously mainstream events as the Brits, included the album Promises from Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra (of which a short film was shown at the ceremony), and the presence of Jamie Cullum on the judging panel.
The prize was won by Hammersmith-born singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, who collected the winner’s trophy and a cheque for £25,000.