WINNER of the 2016 National Big Band Composition Competition is Kelly Ottaway from Hobart, Tasmania for his composition Donald English. Chair of the Judging Panel Dave Panichi, remarked on the incredibly high standard of the finalists compositions saying that all three were worthy winners of this instalment of the NBBCC. Kelly receives a cash prize of $3,000, the recording of his performance with the JMO and will have his work considered for future release on a JMO CD. The mothership would like to thank APRA, ABC Jazz, Foundry 616 and The Anthony and Sharon Lee Foundation for their support of this competition. for more info including recordings and video streaming of the event visit ABC Jazz.

About Kelly Ottaway: 

Kelly Ottaway, Having previously studied and lectured at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, has been the recipient of two Arts Tasmania grants and a Musicians Union of Tasmania study scholarship, and won the 2006 Hobart Jazz Club Jack Duffy Award for an outstanding musician. Playing piano, keyboards and vibraphone, he has performed over more than ten years with leading Australian artists in jazz, funk and soul. In 2008, Kelly was a finalist in the APRA-Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra Big Band Composition Competition.
His primary interests are jazz composition/arranging and leading his jazz nonet ‘Modern Operative’. He holds a Bachelor of Music and Graduate Diploma of Music from the Tasmanian Conservatorium and has postgraduate qualifications in arranging through Berklee College USA.
Currently, Kelly tutors ensembles and arranging at the Tasmanian Conservatorium. 

NEWS FLASH - judges have decided on the 2016 NBBCC finalists.

A total of 39 entries were received for the 2016 version of the National Big Band Composition Competition and our esteemed Judges/composers Dave Panichi NSW, Mace Francis WA and Florian Ross GERMANY have chosen three finalists in Nick Mulder (VIC), James Mustafa (VIC) and Kelly Ottaway (TAS). All of the compositions were assessed anonymously. Chair of the judging panel, Dave Panichi, remarked on how incredible the standard of entries was, how the sophistication of the compositions has grown significantly since the first comp in 2005 and how difficult it was to decide on only three considering the strength or entries received. Thank you to all the competitors for taking the time to compose and enter this important event on the Australian jazz calendar. 

Nick, James and Kelly will rehearse and conduct the JMO on Sept 15 at Foundry 616, Sydney. The concert will be recorded and broadcast by ABC Jazz on Thursday Sept 22, at 9pm. Click here to hear broadcast. There are still tickets available to the live performance at Foundry 616 on Sept addition to the competition the JMO will also performance a set with Mat Jodrell as featured trumpet soloist. 

Background and rules of competition.

In conjunction with APRA and ABC Jazz, the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra is pleased to present the 4th edition of the National Big Band Composition Competition. The competition was first run in 2007 and is the only opportunity of its kind for jazz composers in Australia. Finalists travel to Sydney to rehearse and conduct the JMO performing their original works for Big Band. ABC Jazz professionally records and broadcast the finalists compositions as performed by the JMO and the winner receives at cash prize of $3,000.  

  2009 Winner Andrew Murray with JMO Artistic Director David Theak and NBBCC judges Evan Lohning and Dave Panichi

2009 Winner Andrew Murray with JMO Artistic Director David Theak and NBBCC judges Evan Lohning and Dave Panichi

Previous winners and finalists

2007 Winner: Sally Greenaway, ACT. Finalists: Kelly Ottaway TAS, Nick Van Djick NZ, Rafael Kaarlen QLD

2009  Winner: Andrew Murray, VIC. Finalists: Joseph O'Connor, QLD, Jacam Manricks QLD/NYC

2011 Winner: Joseph O'Connor, QLD/VIC. Finalists: Alice Humphries WA, Cameron Earl, VIC




Rules of Competition

1. Criteria

The contest is open to all Australian and New Zealand citizens.   

Previous winners, members of the jury and current members of the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra (defined as having performed with the orchestra in 2015-16) cannot enter the contest. 

Each competitor can only submit one composition, which must not have previously been released commercially on a CD, published as commercially available print music or previously submitted to this competition. The composition must be orchestrated for the following instrumentation.

Woodwind 1    Soprano / Alto sax / Clarinet

Woodwind 2     Soprano / Alto Sax / Flute / Clarinet    

Woodwind 3    Tenor Sax / Flute 

Woodwind 4    Tenor Sax / Soprano Sax / Alto Clarinet 

Woodwind 5    Baritone / Bass Cl. (low C)

Trumpet 1    Flugelhorn / Trumpet

Trumpet 2     Flugelhorn / Trumpet 

Trumpet 3    Flugelhorn / Trumpet 

Trumpet 4    Flugelhorn / Trumpet

Trombone 1    

Trombone 2    

Trombone 3

Bass Trombone

Guitar Acoustic or Electric


Contrabass (Double Bass) or Electric Bass

Drum Kit 

All members of the orchestra, using only the prescribed instrumentation, must be genuinely utilised during the composition and under no circumstances will extra personnel be allowed to augment the size of the orchestra.  

All woodwind solos to be on saxophones

Compositions should be between 6 - 9 minutes with at least 2/3 of the composition consisting of orchestrations (including backgrounds). The compositions may consist of multiple sections or movements.

2. What to submit checklist

1 x PDF version of the score. PDF should be emailed to with the following subject line: JMO 2016 NBBCC [Competitors name], [song title]. PDF scores should not have composers name anywhere on the score i.e. only the title should be visible. 

an mp3 recording of the work. The recording of the work should be emailed along with PDF of the score to with the following subject line. JMO 2016 NBBCC [Competitors name], [song title]. Midi playback files are acceptable, if necessary, but they must be submitted as mp3’s. Recording does not have to be release quality, but should give an accurate indication about the orchestrations and include a drum feel/groove for judges reference.

completed entry form and payment. Please email completed entry form to with the following subject line: JMO 2016 NBBCC [Competitors name], [song title]. an entry fee of $30 is payable to Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra Inc. by bank transfer. Please include your full name on the transfer description. 

Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra Inc. 

BSB: 012235 ANZ Hall St, Bondi NSW

ACCT: 4938 12364

3. Finals

The recordings and scores are judged anonymously by 2 independant judges (1 vote each) and the members of the JMO (1 vote), 3 votes in total.  

A short list of 3 finalists will be announced on September 7, at 10am on website.

Finalists are required to attend, at their own expense, a rehearsal and concert in Sydney on September 15 where they will rehearse the JMO for 60mins before performing their composition at a concert that evening, that will be recorded live for later broadcast on ABC Jazz. The JMO will have a preliminary rehearsal in addition to the session with the composer to ensure that the orchestra is familiar with the works and that final rehearsal is primarily focused on conceptual issues. The finalist has to confirm his/her attendance for the rehearsal and performance by Sept 7. If a selected finalist can’t be present at the rehearsal and/or finals concert, the first reserve finalist will be called to replace them. 

The live finals performance will be recorded at the concert on September 15 for later broadcast by ABC Jazz, as well as filmed for social media.  These recordings are intended to archive and promote the artist’s composition.  Finalists will be asked to sign an ABC Performer’s Release, granting the ABC permission to broadcast the recording.  To request a copy of this Release contact

The Finalists are required to provide PDF copies of clearly copied and transposed parts on or before September 9. If the parts are unreadable or impede the performance in anyway, the entrant will be disqualified and the first reserve invited to replace them. 

4. Winner

The winner will be announced on JMO and ABC Jazz social media pages on September 16, 10am and will receive a cash prize of $3,000. In addition to the cash prize, all 3 finalists receive a copy of their ABC Jazz broadcast and the winning composition will be considered for inclusion on a future CD release by the JMO subject to the Artistic Directors discretion. 

5. Other Rules

The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra Committee is empowered to take any necessary measures to ensure that the contest runs smoothly.