Riga Jazz Stage 2022 has ended

With an open-minded masterclass in the morning and a great performance by American singer and drummer Jamison Ross’ Organ Trio in the evening of April 9 at cinema Splendid Palace ended an international jazz artists’ competition Riga Jazz Stage 2022. The winners of the competition were announced before the concert by artist-in-residence and an international jury member as well. 

The winners of Best jazz vocalist award: 

  • 1st place - Louise Balkwill (UK) - invitations from Rīgas Ritmi Festival (Latvia), Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London (UK), and Nardis Jazz Club in Istanbul (Turkey), EUR 1200, Shure microphone from sponsor Best Music/AT 
  • 2nd place - Valentina Fin (Italy) - invitations from Rīgas Ritmi Festival (Latvia), Visioon Festival in Tallinn (Estonia), and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London (UK), EUR 1000 
  • 3rd place - Paula Saija (Latvia) - invitations from Rīgas Ritmi Festival (Latvia) and Kaunas Jazz Festival (Lithuania), EUR 700 

The winners of Best jazz drummer award: 

  • 1st place - Domo Branch (USA) - invitation from Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London (UK), EUR 1200, Sigu wood hoops, Tama drum pedal 
  • 2nd place - Pauls Pokratnieks (Latvia) - invitations from Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London (UK) and Nardis Jazz Club in Istanbul (Turkey), EUR 1000, Sigu wood hoops 
  • 3rd place - Yannick Ballman (Belgium) - EUR 700, Sigu wood hoops 

The winner of International jazz journalists’ award: 
Domo Branch (USA) - 10 hours of recording time at legendary Latvian Radio Studio 1 

The winner of Audience award 
(voted online at rigajazz.lv): 

Katrīna Kabiņecka (Latvia) - a last generation smartphone from mobile operator sponsor Tele2 Latvia 

“It’s totally overwhelming,” said the winner of Best jazz vocalist award Louise Balkwill. “I wasn’t expecting it. It’s been such a wonderful competition. Everyone’s been so supportive and welcoming. I am so impressed with Latvian jazz musicians as well and honored to be in their presence. And I am super excited about an invitation to participate in the Rīgas Ritmi Festival. I can’t wait to come here again this summer. I have a really amazing quartet I play with. I’m excited to bring them to the festival with me. It’s all about new music as well. We just released our debut album. It’s called First Class by Louise Balkwill and The Mailmen. The Mailmen are my band. It’s gonna be amazing!”

“I’m very happy and glad that I won but I really don’t think of it as much as of a win,” said the winner of Best jazz drummer award Domo Branch. “I think everybody won. I think the prize of this competition was that we all got to meet new people here. So many different varieties of music. People’s original music to the arrangements of the standards that they played. I’m from the US. I’ve never met anyone from Turkey or Lithuania, or Latvia. So, it was amazing to meet all these people. I actually had nice conversations with them about life and just being together. I think that’s the win. An overall prize of this competition. So, yeah, I won, but we all won as a group of contestants.” 

Aforementioned Rīgas Ritmi Festival will take place from 30th of June to 2nd of July this year. But the next contest Riga Jazz Stage will take place in April of 2023 and the competitors this time will be vocalists and saxophonists.