The finalists in the 2021 National Jazz Awards have been announced.

Organised by the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, each year the awards focus on a different instrument – piano, guitar, bass, saxophone, brass, drums or vocals – in a search for the finest performer aged 36 or younger. This year is the piano’s time in the spotlight.

Pianist Harry Mitchell

The finalists hail from all around the country. They are Casey Golden, Matthew Thomson, Steve Barry and Wilbur Whitta from NSW, James Bowers, Kade Brown and Max Teakle from Victoria (and indeed all from the suburb of Brunswick!), Alex Wignall (SA), Harry Mitchell (WA) and Adelaide-born, New York-based Matthew Sheens.

Traditionally taking place across the closing weekend of the Wangaratta Festival at the end of October, due to COVID restrictions these will now take the form of a series of free online concerts from 26–28 November. All performers had to submit audio recordings of three pieces – a ballad, a blues and a piece by an Australian composer –...