The Press Article

A new prize for jazz talents


Jazz Schmiede, Düsseldorf … on the evening of 31 March 2022 … the club is full, it is the evening of the drums. Four young, talented musicians are competing for the YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD 2022 - this year »Drums only«.


At 18, Martin Hellenkamp was the youngest of the four nominated drummers and showed himself to be an exceptional talent among the younger drummers in North Rhine-Westphalia. Among the other excellent candidates, he convinced the jury above all with the performance of his very well-structured solo piece. In addition to his vituose and technically excellent drumming, he impressed with his broad involvement in jazz and pop music, in which he is active as a composer and singer beyond drumming.

Merlin is only in his second semester at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen Werden - Bachelor's degree programme »Jazz Performing Artist Drums« with lessons from Prof. Thomas Alkier and Sperie Karas. And he plays guitar, sings and writes his own songs.

Peter Weiss, the spiritus rector of the Düsseldorf jazz scene and musical director of the »Jazz Schmiede, Düsseldorf«, was enthusiastic about the level of the competition event: "It was a pleasure to experience the performances of the young musicians. They all played at a very high level and it was not easy for the jury and also the audience to decide for one of the nominees. In the end, the decision was close but unanimous for Merlin Hellenkamp. He was a shade more courageous, creative and motivated than his fellow contestants. The relaxed, friendly interaction between the competing musicians was impressive. Everyone was proud to have been there! And the team of the Jazz Schmiede had the whole organisation under control once again."

Under Corona conditions, a good 50 guests gathered in the Jazz Schmiede and experienced a great evening with the performances of the highly talented music students of the Folkwang University of the Arts . Essen and Hochschule für Musik und Tanz . Cologne. Nominated were Leo Asal, Merlin Hellenkamp, Jonathan Schierhorn and Finn Wiest, who without exception presented themselves as outstanding drummers and had no problems getting into the groove within a very short time with the accompanying band (Reiner Witzel . saxophone, Sebastian Gahler . piano, Oliver Lutz . bass), which was unknown to them until the event. They each had to play three self-selected pieces of music (1x Modern Jazz, Standard, Ternary; 1x Ballad; 1x Groove Jazz, Funk/Rock etc. binary) and a solo - a task they completed brilliantly.

The winner Merlin Hellenkamp can look forward to his YOUNG JAZZ TALENT CONCERT TOUR this autumn - with concerts in renowned jazz clubs in Dortmund, Cologne, Berlin and Düsseldorf. Whoever wants to be there ... the dates are already fixed:


What makes this new competition YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD?

The promotion of young jazz talents in the German-speaking region is a special concern of the initiators of the YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD. That is why the RINGBECK FOUNDATION has relaunched the award in 2022: Young, not yet established jazz musicians between the ages of 16 and 23 are to be given special support in their career development; in 2022, the focus is on the drums as a particularly important, style-defining instrument in jazz and pop music.

The concept of the YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD was jointly developed by the board of the "Ringbeck Foundation" Jürgen Ringbeck and Peter Weiss »Jazz Schmiede . Düsseldorf« and supported in its implementation by the professors for jazz percussion Prof. Thomas Alkier, »Folkwang University of the Arts . Essen«, Prof. Jonas Burgwinkel, »Hochschule für Musik und Tanz . Cologne«, the members of the jury, as well as the »Jazz Schmiede Düsseldorf« and other participating German jazz clubs.

The YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD is endowed with 5,000.00 €. In 2022, young jazz drummers who are not yet established will receive special support. The award winner is expected to have a special mastery of his/her instrument, musical interplay, playful creativity and improvisational talent. A concert tour with his/her own band in four renowned German jazz clubs will be organised for him/her in the autumn. The prize money will be used for the realisation of this tour.

In order to simplify the selection process, but at the same time ensure a high quality of candidates, the pre-selection was initially limited to jazz drummers studying in North Rhine-Westphalia; Prof. Thomas Alkier, »Folkwang University of the Arts . Essen« and Prof. Jonas Burgwinkel, »Hochschule für Musik und Tanz . Cologne«, as renowned trainers in the region, suggested two suitable candidates each, who were then nominated for the competition after they had fulfilled all the necessary requirements.


  • Uli Beckerhoff . Internationally renowned jazz musician . Professor for Jazz Trumpet
  • Jens Düppe . WDR prize winner 2019 . Jazz drummer and composer
  • Peter Weiss . Initiator and organiser YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD . Jazz drummer
  • Jürgen Ringbeck . Initiator and Organiser YOUNG JAZZ TALENT AWARD . Jazz enthusiast

For further information s.



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