A young Shepley composer has won a prestigious jazz award and the dream opportunity to write and produce his own debut album.

Jonny Mansfield said winning the 2018 Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize was “amazing” after impressing judging duo, saxophonist Evan Parker and Dave Stapleton, founder and producer of independent jazz record label, Edition Records.

The prize, which is awarded to a graduating jazz musician at the Royal Academy of Music who demonstrates excellence in performance and composition, also means that 22-year-old vibraphonist, Jonny, has won the chance to write and produce his debut album with Edition Records.

The former Shelley College pupil’s album will be made-up of original compositions and feature his band Elftet – an 11-piece group of vocals, strings, horns and a rhythm section.
“It feels amazing to win. I’m really excited to release my debut album with Edition Records and work with them to develop as an artist,” said London-based Jonny, who is a Shepley First School and Kirkburton Middle School Alumni.

Judged to be the Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize winner following his impressive final recital, Jonny’s performance marked the end of four years of study with the renowned Royal Academy.

“It was a fantastic way to end my time with the Royal Academy. I was amongst my best friends as we all did our final recitals. It was great to see everyone showcase their projects,” he said.

Percussionist Jonny has been working on his album at Real World Studios in Wiltshire where the likes of Beyonce, Tom Jones and Van Morrison have all recorded.

Working alongside producer, Jim Hart, and engineer Alex Bonney, to finalise his album, Jonny will also have guest appearances featured jazz saxophonist, Chris Potter, pianist Kit Downes and flautist Gareth Lockrane.

“My album is nearing completion. It needs to be mastered to give the album a real sound and character as a whole, I can’t wait for everyone to hear it,” added Jonny.

Moving from Huddersfield to Manchester before London to continue his musical studies, Jonny still regularly ventures back home to Shepley to see his parents.

The ex-Shepley Cricket Club player also believes that life in West Yorkshire gave him the perfect grounding to pursue his composer career.

“I really enjoyed growing up where I did and was lucky enough to have two amazing teachers, Ronan McKee and Dom Sales. I was also a Musica Kirklees pupil and have performed regularly at the Marsden Jazz Festival which I absolutely love,” said Jonny.

“Being the youngest in a musical family too meant that I was surrounded by all genres of music. We’ve still got a video of me as a baby bouncing along to ‘The Obvious Child’ by Paul Simon, I still love that tune!

“My family have always been incredibly supportive and I love going back home to see them all. I’m really excited for what’s to come and can’t wait to finish the album.”

For more information about Jonny Mansfield, visit: www.jonnymansfield.com