16 September 2020Perthshire venue launches fundraising campaign to save its future
Birnam Arts in Perthshire is launching a fundraising campaign to try and secure its future in the face of severe financial difficulties brought on by the Covid-19 shutdown.
The venue, which hosts events across the arts spectrum, has had to cancel all concerts and other activities since March and is seeking to raise £20,000 via a Crowdfunder campaign and through a series of competitions.
“Until we are able to restore our buzzing arts programme, resume classes and workshops, host conferences and festivals, Birnam Arts cannot afford to keep the doors open,” says arts development and marketing officer Kate Bell.
The Save Birnam Arts campaign is set to officially launch on Thursday September 17 and donations can be made at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/SaveBirnamArts
15 September 2020Playtime moves to ticketed events for star vocal-piano duo
Edinburgh jazz collective Playtime stages its first ticketed event when singer Fionna Duncan and pianist Brian Kellock appear as part of the collective’s online series of concerts on Thursday, October 1.
Since forming in 2014 to give its core musicians – saxophonist Martin Kershaw, guitarist Graeme Stephen, bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Tom Bancroft – a platform for trying out new ideas and paying tribute to jazz greats, Playtime has built a loyal following through regular gigs and more recently weekly live-streamed concerts.
Up till now booking hasn’t been necessary but for the Duncan-Kellock concert, which will be broadcast from Pathhead Village Hall, Playtime is making advance tickets available through Citizen Ticket, who will also stream the concert.
“We wanted to make this Playtime's first-ever ticketed concert to reflect a very special and rare performance from Fionna & Brian that can be seen all over the world,” says Martin Kershaw. “The income from this concert will go to Fionna and Brian and our sound and visuals expert, Matt, as well as being a fundraiser for Playtime.”
Ticket buyers can set their own price, with a suggested minimum of £6, and tickets are available now. The concert will begin at 8:15pm.
Brian Kellock and Fionna Duncan
10 September 2020Pianist McCreadie's trio returns to live performance with Leeds gig
Multi-award-winning pianist Fergus McCreadie’s trio returns to live performance in front of an audience with two concerts for Leeds Jazz, at Seven Arts at 7pm and 8:45pm, on Thursday October 29.
The trio, like musicians around the world, had live concerts curtailed in March and although McCreadie has been giving live-streamed concerts, he has missed the interaction with an audience on which musicians thrive.
“Our last gig was on March 5 in Altrincham and we didn’t think for a minute for that we would be inactive for this long,” says McCreadie, who signed to leading European label Edition Records earlier this year and will release the follow-up to his Parliamentary Jazz Award-winning album, Turas, in January. “We managed to do a live-stream together from our drummer, Stephen Henderson’s house, before stricter rules came into force. I think that one caught some of the spirit we create on actual gigs but there’s no substitute for being onstage and feeling the audience’s presence and support.”
McCreadie went on to play solo live-streams, including one for the massive Love Supreme festival, where the trio was due to appear in July, and another for Sheffield Jazz, which hosted one of the trio’s last gigs before lockdown. His Tuesday solo streams also attracted a strong following.
“It was good to keep in touch with people that way, even if you could only tell they were out there from the comments feed on Facebook,” says McCreadie. “Part of the Love Supreme stream was broadcast on Jazz FM, so that was also good from the point of view of reaching an audience.”
Ahead of the Leeds concerts, the trio will play a live-stream as part of Edinburgh jazz collective Playtime’s new online concert programme on Thursday September 17. Broadcast from Pathhead Village Hall, just outside Edinburgh, this will enable the musicians to play together in the same room with social distancing and as it’s part of a weekly series, including fellow pianists Dave Milligan and Brian Kellock, there will be a sense of being involved again in the jazz scene.
“We’re really looking forward to both the Playtime and the Leeds concerts,” says McCreadie. “We’ve had to postpone a lot of gigs this year – everyone has – so we’re hoping that it won’t be too long now before we can get back to playing live regularly.”
Fergus McCreadie (photo by Dave Stapleton)
09 September 2020Hall of Fame singer Christine Primrose appears in online Gaelic music festival
The influential Island of Lewis-born singer Christine Primrose is among the musicians appearing in a new Gaelic music festival, Tional to be held on-line from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20.
A native Gaelic speaker who has been singing traditional Gaelic songs since childhood, Christine Primrose became one of the first Gaelic singers to record an album in the modern age when she released her debut album, Àite mo ghaoil, on Temple Records in 1982. She went on to give concerts on both sides of the Atlantic, recorded with the similarly ground-breaking and trail-blazing harper, Alison Kinnaird, and formed the Gaelic group Mac-Talla, with Kinnaird, fellow singers Arthur Cormack and Eilidh Mackenzie and accordionist-keyboards master Blair Douglas.
More recently, Christine Primrose has worked as a highly respected and much sought-after tutor, at the Gaelic college on Skye, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and further afield, and in 2017 she released her milestone recording, Gràdh is Gonadh – Guth ag aithris (Love and Loss – A Lone Voice). She was voted Gaelic Singer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2009, inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2017 and appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2018, in recognition of her services to Gaelic music and culture and to education in Scotland and internationally.
Funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and organised by Hands up for Trad, the Creative Scotland-sponsored operation with responsibilities for increasing Scottish traditional music’s profile, the Tional programme has been curated by singer and TV presenter Joy Dunlop and also includes singers Kathleen MacInnes, Arthur Cormack, Fiona Mackenzie and James Graham, piper Brìghde Chaimbeul, and fiddle and harp duo Iain MacFarlane & Ingrid Henderson.
Christine Primrose (photo courtesy of Temple Records)
07 September 2020Fat-Suit drummer Mark Scobbie releases first album as bandleader
Mark Scobbie, the drummer with Glasgow jazz-funk-folk collective Fat-Suit and Gaelic folk-rockers Manran, has released his first album as a bandleader.
Featuring Fat-Suit colleagues, former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, Alan Benzie on keyboards and bass guitarist Gus Stirrat with Ben MacDonald on guitar and and brass pairing of Michael Butcher (tenor sax) and Loïc Guenneguez (trumpet and Flugelhorn), Tomorrow's Today was recorded and mixed by Gus Stirrat in Solas Sound in Glasgow.
The ten tracks were all written by Scobbie and feature guest appearances by Fat-Suit keyboardist Craig McMahon and Elusive Tree Ensemble vocalist, Rachel Lightbody.
You can read a review here.
30 August 2020Keyboards player Steve Hamilton releases first solo album
Pianist and keyboards player Steve Hamilton has released his first album as a result of being left without live work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stuck at home in Edinburgh while his regular gig with drumming legend Billy Cobham's band was put on hold, Hamilton invited guitarists Martin Taylor, Don Paterson and Davie Dunsmuir and saxophonist Paul Booth to contribute to a selection of acoustic and electric pieces.
They’re mostly Hamilton’s own compositions but also included are Nijinski (from Paterson’s period with Celtic-jazz group Lammas) and Robert Burns’ Ae Fond Kiss (another Lammas favourite).
Before joining Billy Cobham, Hamilton featured with Bill Bruford's Earthworks and he has a CV including work with Freddie Hubbard, Ray Charles, Pee Wee Ellis, Peter King, Van Morrison, and Carol Kidd.
Between the Lines is available from Bandcamp.
15 August 2020Rising star singer's Scottish triumph captured on new SNJO video
She’s supremely talented. She’s inventive. She’s very switched on and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. She is Jazzmeia Horn and when she made her Scottish debut with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in November 2019, she entranced audiences in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth with her singing.
Now the Texas-born rising star, who has earned GRAMMY nominations with her first two albums, is the special guest on the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s new video, Free Your Mind, which will be available on YouTube on Tuesday 18th August.
The video follows last month’s acclaimed Nelson Mandela tribute, which featured the SNJO with transatlantic guests, San Francisco-based singer Kenny Washington and New York-based vibes master Joe Locke performing Locke’s arrangement of soul legend Sam Cooke’s civil rights anthem A Change Is Gonna Come.
Free Your Mind was written by Ms Horn, who channels her social observations as well as her personal experiences into her compositions and singing. It was arranged by Smith and recorded during the singer’s concert with the SNJO at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.
“The first time I heard Jazzmeia Horn, at Rochester Jazz Festival in New York, I was hypnotized by her presentation of each lyric,” says Smith. “It was so vivid and credible, her storytelling and improvisation took jazz singing to another level. After the concert I bought her CD and decided that we had to introduce her to audiences in Scotland.”
Critics were enthralled by Ms Horn’s performance with the SNJO, with London Jazz News’s reviewer describing her singing as “stunning” and singling out Free Your Mind as “surely destined to be a standard of the future.”
Ms Horn, who has been mentored by top singing talents Bobby McFerrin and Jon Hendricks, of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, grew up in Dallas and was given the name Jazzmeia by her grandmother, a church pianist and jazz fan. Still in her twenties, she won the coveted Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2015 and cites the great jazz singers Sarah Vaughan and Abbey Lincoln among her influences.
Jazzmeia Horn (photo by Derek Clark)
12 August 2020Glasgow sextet release taster single from forthcoming album
Glasgow-based contemporary jazz outfit Nimbus Sextet have released a single, Trap Door from their imminent debut album for Acid Jazz Records, Dreams Fulfilled.
Led by pianist/keyboardist Joe Nichols, the group plays original music that majors on melodic hooks, driving grooves and sophisticated musicianship and draws on influences including Herbie Hancock, Gil Scott-Heron, The Roots and Robert Glasper.
Nichols formed the group with long-time collaborators, drummer Alex Palmer and bassist Mischa Stevens, whom he met while studying at Edinburgh University, before adding saxophonist Martin Fell and trumpeter Euan Allardice and, later, guitarist James Mackay.
They have appeared at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen jazz festivals, Doune The Rabbit Hole and on the Kelburn Garden Party main stage and toured with London nu-jazz ensemble Cykada and American brass outfit Youngblood Brass Band before headlining their own national tour in February/March 2020.
Dreams Fulfilled will be released on October 23.
05 August 2020Top pianist Brian Kellock releases new trio album
Award-winning Scottish pianist Brian Kellock has released a new album with his long-established trio, BK3, featuring bassist Kenny Ellis and drummer John Rae.
Entitled Think About It, the album is released through the New Zealand-based Rae’s Thick Records label and was recorded at the Sound Café studio near Penicuik during the trio’s Scottish tour in 2018.
Tracks include East of the Sun, The Nearness of You and Stella By Starlight, all arranged by the trio, whose Live at Henry’s won the Album of the Year title at the BBC Jazz Awards in 2002.
Kellock went on to win a Herald Angel at the Edinburgh Festival the same year and has since won Best Instrumentalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards in 2019.
Although he regards the trio as his main outlet he has also worked with an array of top names including saxophonists Stanley Turrentine, Herb Geller, Charlie Rouse, trumpeters Red Rodneyand Art Farmer and singers Sheila Jordan, Carol Kidd, Liane Carroll and Tina May.
His show with Tina May, Ella & Oscar, has toured successfully and in 2019 he released an enthusiastically received solo piano album, Bidin’ My Time.
Brian Kellock (photo by Louis DeCarlo)
16 July 2020Musicians from the U.S. and Scotland create SNJO Mandela tribute
The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra releases a new arrangement of Sam Cooke’s classic Civil Rights anthem, A Change is Gonna Come as a tribute to Nelson Mandela on Saturday 18th July.
The recording came about when the SNJO’s concerts with San Francisco-based singer Kenny Washington and New York vibraphone master Joe Locke, due to take place in Scotland in April, were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the repertoire selected for a programme of pop, rock and soul classics was the song Cooke wrote in response to several experiences including his entourage being turned away by a whites-only motel while on tour in Louisiana.
With everyone in lockdown, SNJO director Tommy Smith sent all the musicians their parts for A Change is Gonna Come and asked them to record videos of them playing in isolation. Smith then collated the results into one performance and the compilation video will go live on the SNJO website at 10am on Saturday. The performance will receive its first airing on radio on Jazz FM’s Breakfast at the Weekend programme two hours earlier.
“Initially we were just going to make the video available to view for free as our tribute on International Nelson Mandela Day,” says Smith. “But we then had the idea of adding a donate button alongside it so that people can watch and hopefully make a contribution, with all proceeds going to the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation.”
Smith has had a long association with the Foundation. In his early twenties he took part in a concert it promoted in Mandela’s honour during Glasgow’s European City of Culture celebrations in 1990 and he has kept in touch with it since then.
“I was lucky enough to perform with the Association of South African Students Choir, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Philharmonic Singers on what was a really moving and inspiring day. The Foundation has had a long-term aim of creating a statue of Nelson Mandela in Nelson Mandela Place, in Glasgow’s city centre, and if we can contribute towards that with this single, it would be a suitable reward for Kenny and all the instrumentalists’ efforts."
06 July 2020Pianist Dave Milligan to release first new album in twelve years
Pianist Dave Milligan releases a new album, Momento, on Friday August 28th. It's Milligan's first album since his acclaimed Shops in 2008.
The music on Momento resulted from meeting Italian bass and drums team Danilo Gallo and U.T. Gandhi on an international project with Colin Steele at Edinburgh Jazz Festival. Milligan enjoyed playing with the Italians so much that, when a Creative Scotland artists bursary allowed him to travel to Cavalicco in the Italian province of Udine, he booked three days in ArteSuono recording studio with engineer Stefano Amerio and invited Gallo and Gandhi to join him.
Best known in the jazz world as the pianist and arranger behind the award-winning trumpeter Colin Steele’s success over the past twenty-five years and for his own acclaimed trio (described by The Guardian as “cracking”), Milligan is a musician of remarkable versatility.
As well as working with a prodigious list of jazz musicians, including Art Farmer, Scott Hamilton, Peter King, Joe Temperley and Charlie Mariano, he has featured with ace session guitarist Larry Carlton, percussionist Trilok Gurtu and Nashville gospel-soul legends the McCrary Sisters and has a parallel career in traditional music with international fiddle band String Sisters, Scottish folk orchestra The Unusual Suspects and ongoing projects with harpist-singer Corrina Hewat. He also collaborated, as musical supervisor, with Mark Knopfler on the stage musical version of Local Hero.
Tracks on the new album include Milligan's arrangement of the Scottish folk song Parcel of Rogues and the retreat march to which the late Hamish Henderson set his Freedom Come All Ye alongside seven Milligan originals.
Momento is released on Big Bash Records will be available on Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and other platforms.
01 July 2020Young Scottish singer Luca Manning wins top UK jazz award
Young Glasgow singer Luca Manning has won the Newcomer of the Year prize at the 2020 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
Already a familiar name on the London scene, Manning released his debut album, When the Sun Comes Out, with pianist Fergus McCreadie and saxophonist Laura Macdonald in 2019 and has just released A Sleepin’ Bee with Threebop, a vocal group where he appears alongside Ella Hohnen-Ford and Rosina Bullen.
The Parliamentary Jazz Awards are organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) with the support of PizzaExpress Live. The Awards celebrate and recognise the vibrancy, diversity, talent and breadth of the jazz scene throughout the United Kingdom.
The full list of winners is:
Jazz Vocalist of the Year – Cherise Adams- Burnett
Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year – Sarah Tandy
Jazz Album of the Year - Finding Home by Kate Williams & Georgia Mancio
Jazz Ensemble of the Year – Nikki Iles Big Band
Jazz Newcomer of the Year – Luca Manning
Jazz Venue of the Year – PizzaExpress Jazz Club
Jazz Media Award – Corey Mwamba
Jazz Education Award – Jon Eno BEM
Services to Jazz Award – Blow the Fuse
Special APPJAG Award - Jazzwise
22 June 2020Move to rename Bristol venue after pianist Keith Tippett gains momentum
A petition to rename Colston Hall, Bristol in honour of pianist-composer Keith Tippett has gathered over 1000 signatures since it was launched at the end of last week.
Tippett, who died on Sunday, June 14, was a born in Bristol in 1947 and represented the city across the world in a career that spanned more than fifty years.
A church chorister, organist and classical piano student before he led his first jazz group in Bristol, Tippett moved to London in 1967 and became the leader of the young British jazz movement with the trailblazing Keith Tippett Sextet, which he formed with fellow students from Barry Summer School.
The group recorded two albums for the Polydor label, at the time home to Cream and the Bee Gees, before Tippett launched his fifty-piece orchestra, Centipede and expanded his activities to include solo concerts, duos with his wife, the former Julie Driscoll and fellow pianists Stan Tracey and Howard Riley, and groups including Mujician and the large scale Ark and Tapestry.
He leaves a huge body of recorded work and memories of concerts, especially in Europe, where he created magical events, whether they featured just himself at the piano or at the head of a huge ensemble.
The petition to rename Colstron Hall, one of Bristol's major venues, in Tippett's honour is available to sign here.