Every year when the announcements are made with regards to the Mercury Music Prize, critics espouse the expression 'token jazz/classical/folk inclusion', probably without first hearing the band or singer(s) in the process. So then, since 1992, the first year of Mercury, we've had Bheki Mseleku, Stan Tracey, Michael Nyman, James McMillan, Guy Barker, Peter Maxwell-Davies, John Surman, Portico Quartet, Kit Downes and last year's bolt from the blue, Gwilym Simcock - all worthy exponents of creatively advanced music, but probably not quite your average radio fodder. Nothing wrong with that.
For 2012, another relatively new name has been tossed into the hat of hope in the form of organic jazz outfit, Roller Trio. Actually not just 'new' but positively unheard of - head to trusty Wikipedia and you'll find a mention on the Mercury page and the Peter Whittingham Award page, which is hardly surprising - they won the cutting-edge award, named after the gifted pianist of the same name and administered by the Musician's Benevolent Fund, in 2011. Congratulations.
And congratulations might break the tradition of the more lucrative Mercury being doled out to 'another indie-rock or R&B' act this year, if their self-titled debut-album is anything to go by. Where previous nominees Portico Quartet eschewed 'real' instruments for a spot of electronic, Roller Trio are keeping it analogue, manual and warm. Saxophones, drums and, horror, electric guitar make up the typical Roller tune, but they also have the ability to riff out and funk up.
To see just how good they are, they're on a tour of sorts throughout the autumn, which spills over to 2013, a jaunt which will no doubt be bolstered by further Mercurial activity in time. As well as playing various niche festivals around the country this month and next [Lancaster Jazz Festival on 23rd Sep: www.lancasterjazz.com and Marsden Jazz Festival on 13th Oct: www.marsdenjazzfestival.com - Ed], the trio will also play a double set at the lovely Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street on 20th October, then dates in Birmingham and Marylebone. November sees a high-profile gig at the London Jazz Festival on 16th (at the Vortex), before headlining a tour in December/ January which includes stops in Manchester, Brighton, Bristol, a hometown gig at Leeds Brudenell Social and (currently) a final date for 2012 in London at the Lexington on 13th. Check below for ticket availability and the full schedule.