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2nd July 2004 at 01:00
Jack Kenny listens to finalists of a jazz competition

He did not win but there was enough to suggest that if he continues he could become a force in the jazz world. He could play loudly and tenderly, and he could also play with panache.

One of five children, Liam comes from a musical family in Edinburgh. He is the son of avant-garde composer Dave Heath and singer Angela Tunstall.

Liam's moment of truth was two years ago when he heard "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis, and for the past year he has been a member of Tommy Smith's Youth Jazz Orchestra. His aim in life is to play alongside the best musicians in the world.

The winner, drummer Robert Turner comes from Bolton and studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. For a drummer to win something like this is unusual. He took the audience, according to Andy Sheppard, one of the judges, on a journey. He used every part of the traditional drum kit and produced many sounds from gongs, cymbals and congas.

There is a thriving jazz scene in the UK. Though jazz came from the black community in the US, none of the contestants at the Pizza Express was black, however. Was this because of the bias to academies?

In the classical world, winning a competition such as the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition or the BBC Young Musician of the Year is often the passport to a career. Such events are rare in jazz so it will be interesting to see what the impact of the Pizza Express initiative will be on young musicians.

* Next term's music subject focus will include a feature on jazz in schools. If you have something you would like considered for inclusion contact Merlin John. Email: merlin.john@tes.co.uk

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