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19 October 2020The Scottish Jazz Awards 2020 winners announced

Anoushka Nanguy

 

The Scottish Jazz Awards 2020 have honoured musicians across the generations, with Glasgow’s young scene winning the Best Album, Best Instrumentalist, Best Vocalist, and Best Band titles, as well as the Rising Star Award.

 

Trombonist Liam Shortall’s corto.alto won Best Band and Best Album (for Live from 435 Vols 1, 2 and 3, Katie Doyle. Who sings under the stage name Kitti, took the Best Vocalist prize. Pianist Fergus McCreadie won Best Instrumentalist and trombonist-singer Anoushka Nanguy was voted Rising Star of the year.   

 

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to drummer and band-leader Ken Mathieson, whose contribution to the scene includes his internationally regarded Classic Jazz Orchestra, programming the inaugural Glasgow Jazz Festival in 1987 and playing a crucial role in bringing top-flight American musicians to Scotland through his involvement in the Black Bull Jazz Club in Milngavie during the 1970s and early 1980s.

 

The full list of awards and sponsors is:

Rising Star Award sponsored by Musicians’ Union - Anoushka Nanguy

Best Vocalist Award sponsored by Whighams Jazz Club - Kitti

Best Instrumentalist Award sponsored by ESP Music Rentals - Fergus McCreadie

Best Band Award sponsored by Love Supreme Festival - corto.alto

Best Album Award sponsored by Birnam CD – corto.alto Live From 435 Vols 1, 2 & 3

Services To Scottish Jazz Award sponsored by Ticketmaster – Rob Adams

Lifetime Achievement Award in association with Help Musicians Scotland – Ken Mathieson

 

The awards are organised by Glasgow Jazz Festival and supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

 

 

02 October 2020Edition Records announces pre-order exclusives for new Fergus McCreadie album

Leading European record label Edition Records has opened a mailing list for fans of outstanding young Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie to sign up for pre-order exclusive offers in anticipation of McCreadie’s second album, Cairn.

 

The album, which follows McCreadie’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards and Scottish Jazz Award-winning debut, Turas is due for release in January and fans are being given the opportunity to reserve signed and numbered copies of the CD and LP.

 

McCreadie signed to Edition Records this spring and the album has been recorded and photo sessions for the artwork have taken place.

 

“We're so excited to share this new music,” says McCreadie. “We're very proud of the result.”

 

Fergus McCreadie Trio (photo by Dave Stapleton)

29 September 2020Vocal star Kurt Elling joins SNJO on new video

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra releases a new video single on Wednesday, September 30.

 

Featuring special guest, Chicagoan vocalist Kurt Elling, the video is the orchestra's third release during the pandemic and captures singer and orchestra in exuberant form in front of an enthusiastic Glasgow audience at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

 

Jeep on 35° is a composition by triple Grammy Award-winning guitarist John Scofield, here given a vocalese with attitude by Nina Clark, the English musical activist and 21st century minstrel.

 

Taken from the song cycle Syntopicon, which brings human traits and values including knowledge and wisdom, good and evil, language and joy to musical life, Jeep on 35° was chosen to represent courage, and Elling doesn’t hold back. He inhabits lyrics and melody with huge personality and a masterly range of rich vocal tones and agile phrasing.

 

At the time of the concert, Elling and the SNJO had already toured Scotland three years previously. They had also headlined at London Jazz Festival and Jazz Sous les Pommiers in Normandy and recorded together in New York. The resultant familiarity allows Elling to be, at once, the star singer and one of the band, revelling in both an exchange of sophisticated, creative improvisations and a fiercely committed, bluesy conversation with SNJO director, saxophonist Tommy Smith.

 

"We collaborated with Kurt again the following year to celebrate Sinatra's centenary and on a dynamic choral project entitled Spirit of Light in 2017, and he always delivers, as you would expect from an artist who is widely regarded as the world’s top jazz vocalist,” says Tommy Smith. “Jeep on 35° is prime Kurt Elling and the orchestra was on great form that night too.”  

 

Arranged by Chicago-born pianist and composer Jim McNeely, Courage: Jeep on 35° follows two previous videos released by the SNJO in recent months, a special arrangement by vibes maestro Joe Locke of Sam Cooke’s civil rights era classic A Change is Gonna Come, with musicians from New York, San Francisco, London and Scotland, and Free Your Mind, a showcase for Texas-born rising vocal star Jazzmeia Horn.

 

The video goes live on the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s YouTube channel at 10 am on Wednesday, 30th September and can be seen here: https://youtu.be/-pXQyOrhTMA 

 

Kurt Elling (photo by Derek Clark)

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 

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)

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.

 

Mark Scobbie

 

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.  

 

 

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.

 

Nimbus Sextet

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)

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