10 August 2020Pianist Dave Milligan releases first-ever single ahead of new album

An eighteenth-century protest song is the inspiration behind Scottish pianist Dave Milligan’s catchy and deeply grooving download single, Parcel of Rogues, released today, Monday 10th August. It's the first single Milligan has ever released and he feels the track is both timely and uplifting in these strange days.   


Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation is a poem attributed to Robert Burns in 1791 to decry the members of the Parliament of Scotland who signed the 1707 Act of Union with England. In the 1960s and 1970s it was taken up by political singers including Ewan MacColl and Dick Gaughan and the folk groups The Dubliners and Steeleye Span. More recently it has come to be regarded as an international anthem.


“The melody has stayed with me since I first played it with The Unusual Suspects many years ago,” says Milligan. “It’s a powerful tune, with a kind of anthemic quality. When I was given the opportunity to record with two outstanding Italian musicians, the bassist Danilo Gallo and drummer U.T. Gandhi in Italy, I wanted to try some Scottish themes with them to see how they would respond.”  


The versatile Milligan, whose recent work has encompassed jazz, folk music and theatre, explored Parcel of Rogues with the Italians - along with a handful of other traditional melodies, including the late Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come All Ye. “I thought those two songs worked particularly well - I had to include them in the new album, Momento,” he said. Radio producers and presenters who were sent early copies have almost unanimously selected Parcel of Rogues as the featured track.


The phrase ‘parcel of rogues’ has been used in relation to the current political situations in the UK and the US and even recently in Lebanon, and Milligan is aware of its potency.  


“It didn’t really occur to me that broadcasters might be drawn to Parcel of Rogues for non-musical reasons - some might not even be aware of the political connection,” says Milligan.


His recording doesn’t reveal the words but the narrative of the song depicts a sense of indignation at the abuse of power which led to a massive sociopolitical shift. “That was well over 200 years ago and people still feel it, probably more than ever,” he says. “Just look around at some of the political establishments today - the word ‘rogues’ doesn’t quite cover it.” 


Milligan has no problem with whatever associations people attribute to the track. “You make your own connection with art,” he says. “I set out to make music and that’s what this is about for me; the strength of the melody, the groove that Danilo and Gandhi created, and how good instrumental music can make people feel.”


Dave Milligan


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.

30 May 2020Style-setting Scottish band STRATA releases new single

Graham Costello's STRATA has released a single, Lyra, as part of the deal the band signed with London-based Gearbox Records.


Led by drummer Costello, the group has been winning audience approval for a style of music that combines rock minimalism with jazz creativity and released its debut album, Obelisk, early last year.


The group, which includes former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, guitarist Joe Williamson and award-winning pianist Fergus McCreadie, has gone on to work in an expanded line-up with a string section and was due to appear at the prestigious Love Supreme festival before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Lyra is available through Spotify, Amazon, YouTube, Deezer, Bandcamp, Apple Music, Tidal and iTunes.


You can read more about Graham Costello and STRATA here


Graham Costello (photo by Jannica Honey)


29 May 2020Glass artist creates new work with exhibition to follow

Glass artist Alison Kinnaird MBE has created a new work, 'Lockdown 2020' to highlight the problems that are common to everyone during a period that people the world over have been experiencing recently.


“Isolation is difficult for everyone to deal with,” says Alison, who works in her studio at home in Temple, Midlothian. “Creativity is hard to maintain, but some themes relate directly to our present situation.”


Alison has an international reputation as an artist working in glass. Her work ranges from small intimate pieces, to architectural scale installations and can be seen in many public and private collections, including the V&A Museum, the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the Corning Museum of Glass, in New York.


She is hoping that a solo 'open-studio' exhibition, due to take place in her home during August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, will go ahead.


“We’re hoping restrictions will have lifted by then,” she says, “but visitors can always arrange an appointment.”



23 May 2020Tommy Smith streams video featuring solo saxophone and illustrious guests


Saxophonist Tommy Smith has added to the huge number of streams that musicians from the jazz scene have turned to in the absence of live gig opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Smith, who was unable to live-stream due to the poor signal available at his home in rural Lanarkshire, compiled a programme for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Fridays at One series featuring new and archive performances.


The 60-minute film includes solo versions of Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life, his own popular composition from the 1980s Ally the Wallgator, and the eighteenth century hymn Amazing Grace. Smith also features with the all-star sextet with which he recorded his 2003 album, Evolution (Joe Lovano (saxophone), John Scofield (guitar), John Taylor, piano, John Patitucci (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums), with drummer Alyn Cosker, and with his current group, Embodying the Light (aka the Coltrane Quartet).


Smith can also be heard using looping technology and playing a gong that he sourced from Wuhan many years before the Chinese province hit the news headlines as the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.


The video is available on YouTube 


Tommy Smith (photo by Derek Clark)

21 May 2020Key Workers Waltz sets fiddler on course for the heart of Midlothian

A Welsh fiddler who composed a tune for a nurse in Pathhead, Midlothian was surprised to discover that it was being played by some of her favourite musicians.

Angharad Jenkins offered to write tunes as part of her band, Calan’s Crowdfunder scheme to raise money to cover loses made through concerts being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She was commissioned by Andrew de Salis to write a tune for his sister, Ailsa Johnstone, who has been working for NHS in the frontline during the health crisis.

Angharad duly sent off Key Workers Waltz, not realising that Pathhead was home to a community of musicians, many of whose CDs are among the most frequently played in her collection.

“I’d never heard of Pathhead before and when Andrew got back in touch to thank me, I was amazed to learn that people like the singer-songwriter Karine Polwart and Martin Green, of Lau, were part of the community there and that they were all playing my tune,” says Angharad.

The tune, although originally written for Ailsa, is also dedicated to all key workers.

“Other musicians have taken it up,” says Angharad. “I saw someone on YouTube, with no connections to Pathhead, who had posted a video of himself playing it, and it’s the most exciting and thrilling thing to know that people are playing something I wrote.”

19 May 2020Influential advocate for jazz John Cumming dies

John Cumming, one of the most prominent figures on the international jazz scene as festival organiser, tour manager and agent, died on Sunday, May 17.

From Edinburgh, where he studied at Edinburgh University, became involved in theatre production and supported Hearts (he was very proud to be the namesake of a Hearts player who won every domestic honour with the club in the 1950s and 1960s), John worked in theatre before and after founding the Bracknell Jazz Festival at Southhill Park Arts Centre in 1975.

Having built Bracknell into a major platform for international acts, as well as championing homegrown talents, he became the programmer for Camden Jazz Week and worked as a tour manager for the Contemporary Music Network, along the way forming lasting professional relationships with musicians including Carla Bley, Charlie Haden, and George Russell, whose Anglo-American Living Time Orchestra he created.

With the late John Ellson he went on to form Serious Productions, working closely with Andy Sheppard, Orphy Robinson and John Surman, and with promoter David Jones on board they created EFG London Jazz Festival in 1992.

John’s contacts book was full of musicians, international promoters and festival directors and he created innumerable special projects and tours that touched the lives of audiences across the UK and Europe.  

His contribution to the UK jazz scene was recognised by Services to Jazz awards at both the BBC Jazz Awards and the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and in 2014 he was appointed OBE for Services to Jazz. He is survived by his wife, Ginnie, and daughter, Kate.

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