Handsworth born Xhosa Cole, 22, has been announced as the winner of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018.

The final was held on Saturday evening (24/11) and broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday, where the saxophonist was named the winner of the prestigious award. For those who missed out on the broadcast can catch highlights on BBC Radio 3.

In the grand final, each musician was tasked with playing a sixteen-minute set, which included at least one piece they had written or arranged themselves. Xhosa played “Moving Ladywood” – an original composition, “I Cover The Waterfront” (Johnny Green) and “Moment’s Notice” (John Coltrane).

All contestants were backed by an outstanding band, consisting of Paula Gardiner (bass), Asaf Sirkis (drums), and led by Gwilym Simcock (piano).

Following the victory, Xhosa 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.”

Xhosa has played saxophone in the Jazzlines Ensemble, Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra and Midland Youth Jazz Orchestrato amongst others.

While studying in sixth form, Xhosa attended courses with the National Youth Jazz Collective and National Youth Wind Orchestra. He performs and teaches regularly around Birmingham.

On the evening, all five finalists performed for a judging panel consisting of Monty Alexander, Zoe Rahman, Gary Crosby, Zara McFarlane and Iain Ballamy.

Of the Birmingham-bred winner, judge 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!”

BBC Young Jazz Musician – finalists:

  • Xhosa Cole – saxophone – 22 years old
  • Reuben Goldmark – piano – 18 years old
  • Fergus McCreadie – piano – 21 years old
  • James Owston – bass – 22 years old
  • Seth Tackaberry – bass – 20 years old

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.”

This year, for the first time, the final was held at the EFG London Jazz Festival, as part of a new relationship designed to further the competition’s aim of showcasing the most talented young jazz performers to audiences across the UK

The final took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre, event supported by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

In addition to the television coverage on BBC Four and iPlayer for 30 days, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting highlights of the final in J to Z – a weekly programme exploring new sounds with classic recordings and exclusive sessions – on Saturday 1st December.