Lucy Clifford wins jazz award

The recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award (JRMA) for 2022 is WollCon alumnus and bassist Lucy Clifford, who says that playing as a young student in a jazz ensemble and small jazz combos at WollCon, were instrumental in developing her performance skills.

The Award founded in 2005, aims to redress the gender imbalance in jazz by supporting awardees with financial, performance and recording assistance.

It is named in honour of the late New Zealand born jazz pianist Jann Rutherford and is funded by private donations in partnership with Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival (MWIJF) Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA), Jazz Queensland and ABC Radio National.

“Receiving this award is such an incredible honor and I am so grateful for this support. This opportunity really has allowed me to bring to life a career goal of mine, to build an ensemble as a female musician and composer, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.”

Lucy Clifford

For Lucy the award means she will be able to develop and perform music for her debut album, which centres around exchanges of stories on strength, empowerment, dedication to growth and love in all its forms.

As a bassist who has dedicated many years to accompanying artists of different kinds, Lucy’s album places value and care in similarly fostering spaces for dialogue. Although rooted in Jazz expression, Lucy and her collaborators Tom Avgenicos (trumpet), David Reglar (tenor saxophone), Freyja Garbett (keys), and Alex Masso (drums) explore beyond the fringes of genre, building synergetic rhythms and pulses that interlock with all things melody, motion and stillness in between.

Her debut single ‘When I Miss You’ was released on October 28th and available on all streaming platforms.

“This piece was written when the world turned itself upside down and many of us experienced missing someone we love.”

Opportunities to hear Lucy perform songs from her debut album included a WollCon Jazz Series concert at the UNIBar, a performance at the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival and another for the Sydney Improvised Music Association.

The award also involves an ABC Jazz Scholarship recording (for release in 2023) and the development of a professional promotional kit.

Lucy joins fellow WollCon alumnus and jazz drummer Jodie Michael, who won the same award in 2013.

“WollCon is one of those creative hubs that really is essential for our community. So much creativity, inspiration, musical exploration, and encouragement transpires in each practice room there, and you really can see the impact the con has on the broader Sydney and South Coast music communities with the number of professional performers that started out there. The jazz program run by Eric Dunan gave me that opportunity to feel inspired, play music with others and learn fundamentals that have shaped the musician I am today.” Said Lucy.

Passionate about encouraging and supporting young women in music, Lucy also recently completed her master’s in teaching and founded the Sisters of Sound program, an e-learning platform which provides educational workshops and classes for young women in music.

READ Lucy’s Alumni Profile