The finalists of the National Jazz Awards have been announced. The 10 pianists will perform at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz in November.

The finalists are :

Dan Abeshouse, 29, from Sydney
Darrin Archer, 34, from Melbourne
Hugh Barrett, 22, from Sydney
Aaron Choulai, 24, from Melbourne
Marc Hannaford, 24, from Melbourne
Jackson Harrison, 25, from Sydney
Andrea Keller, 33, from Melbourne
Gerard Masters, 29, from Sydney
Will Poskitt, 29, from Melbourne
Ben Winkelman, 33, from Melbourne

This is the first time since 1999 that the National Jazz Awards have featured piano. Last year it was vocals.

Entries, which are restricted to musicians 35 years of age or younger and were assessed by a panel of judges made up of Mike Nock, Joe Chindamo and Paul Grabowsky. The assessors made their decision not knowing the identity of the musicians.

Entry is restricted to artists 35 years of age or younger.

Chairman of the judging panel, Mike Nock, said, “It was a very strong field this year, and I’m pleased to say I think we have chosen ten pianists who represent some of the outstanding talent in this country. Several of the finalists have already established themselves as bandleaders and composers, while some are already recognised as rising stars. It’s going to be very interesting to see who produces the best performances at Wangaratta.”

The 10 finalists will perform in the first round, with three then selected to play in the final round, which will be recorded for later national broadcast on ABC Classic FM’s Jazztrack.

The winner will receive $6000 plus a studio recording session, which will be broadcast on Jazztrack, and an invitation to perform at the Stonnington Jazz concert series in March 2007.

The runner-up will receive $3000 and the third-placed finalist will receive a prize of $1500.

At Wangaratta, the finalists will play with bassist Brendan Clarke and drummer James Hauptmann.

Photo: Gerard Masters