The Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album and the APRA Best Jazz Composition awards will be presented on the opening night of the Wellington Jazz Festival, Wednesday 6 June.

This year the finalists contending for the jazz Tui are Hayden ChisholmNorman Meehan,and Paul Dyne for UnwindLucien Johnson for West of the Sun, and Umar Zakaria for Fearless Music.

Chisholm, Meehan and Dyne's album Unwind is their first outing as a trio, having worked with each other in various contexts over many years.

Wellington-based saxophonist and composer Lucien Johnson has been nominated for his 2017 release West of the Sun. Johnson has worked on pieces for film, television, dance, theatre and installations and has been a  regular collaborator with New Zealand dance theatre company Borderline Arts Ensemble.

Umar Zakaria's album Fearless Music has been created by his own diverse musical traditions with New Zealand’s top jazz musicians.

Zakaria has performed with jazz legends Bob Moses (US), Hagai Bilitzky (Israel), Rob van Bavel (Netherlands), Snorre Kirk (Denmark), Magnus Hjorth (Sweden), Steve Barry, and Mark Lockett.

The APRA Best Jazz Composition will also be announced at the awards. The finalists are Callum Allardice for A GatheringAnita Schwabe for Springtide, and Jake Baxendale for Beyond The Palace.

After winning Best Jazz Composition last year for Deep Thought, Callum is back in 2018 as a finalist for his composition A Gathering, which he composed for the 2017 Wellington Jazz Festival’s collaboration with South Korean ensemble, Black String.

Anita Schwabe is also nominated for her composition Springtide, which will feature on her debut album Eat Your Greens set to be released in 2018. Anita has performed with her own groups and other jazz combos at major New Zealand festivals, as well as internationally at the Vanuatu Jazz Festival and Claude Bolling’s Suite crossover of Classical Guitar and Jazz with Matthew Marshall, Paul Dyne and Roger Sellers in New Caledonia. Anita will be performing at the 2018 Wellington Jazz Festival.

Jake Baxendale has been hard at work establishing Jazz Aotearoa, a professional association that represents jazz creators, presenters, educators and audiences in NZ. Jake was also instrumental in the 2017 Jazz Festival collaboration with Black String. He’s nominated for the 2018 Best Jazz Composition award for his piece Beyond The Palace.

The winner of both the Recorded Music NZ Best Jazz Album and APRA Best Jazz Composition will be announced at an invite only event to kick off the Wellington Jazz Festival, which runs from Wednesday 6 June to Sunday 10 June.