22 December 2021Saxophonist Tommy Smith scheduled to open new Leith jazz series

Internationally acclaimed saxophonist Tommy Smith will open the new series of Jazz at St James concerts in Leith with a solo acoustic performance on Saturday, February 12 - subject to Covid measures in place at the time.


Following a near-two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of the series have announced a five-concert season. Following Smith they have also lined up a new trio led by pianist-keyboardist Paul Harrison, violinist Bernadette Kellerman’s Colourworks ensemble, bassist Mario Caribe’s Fret and the New Focus Duo’s exploration of classical music’s influence on jazz from Duke Ellington onwards.


Dates for these will be announced soon. Meanwhile, Jazz at St James’ Robin Connelly says he is delighted to have secured Smith for the opening concert.


“Tommy opened our very first season back in 2018 with a fantastic solo concert and we’re really excited to have him back. He’s recognised as one of the best saxophonists in the world and he certainly lived up to that billing when he played for us before. The tickets are on sale for that one already and we’re in the process of getting the other concerts on sale now.”


Smith has played solo concerts in cathedrals and major churches over the past six months, including St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Lichfield and Dunblane Cathedrals and Dunfermline Abbey. Regarding them as celebrations of melody, he draws on the jazz, folk, Gaelic, classical and praise song traditions for pieces to thread together with improvisations.


In a review, the respected jazz information source, London Jazz News’ critic described Smith as “a modern master of the tenor saxophone” and following his appearance at the city’s jazz festival, the Rochester City Newspaper in New York enthused about Smith’s gorgeous tone and his eloquence as a saxophonist.

18 December 2021Folksinger Fraser Bruce's book tells the story of Scottish folk clubs

Singer-guitarist-songwriter Fraser Bruce has written and self-published a book about the Scottish folk club scene as it developed during the late 1950s and early 1960s.


The book, which took three years to research, involved interviews in person and through correspondence with over one hundred people who helped to create a thriving folk club circuit in Scotland.


“My book is about the real creators, the pioneers who did all the hard work,” says Bruce, who along with his brother, Ian, was a fixture of the Scottish folk scene through the 1970s and into the 21st century. “It is not a book written by an intellectual for the benefit of other intellectuals, as so many other books written about the early Scottish folk scene are.”


Tales from the Early Scottish Folk Club Scene – The Folk River features home-grown luminaries including Hamish Imlach, Ray & Archie Fisher and Bert Jansch as well as influencers such as Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and the characters whose work behind the scenes was invaluable to the nascent folk scene.


It’s available at Fraser Bruce’s website here (go to The Shop then Books).

25 November 2021Strong Scottish contingent heading to Love Supreme festival

Pianist Fergus McCreadie’s trio and saxophonist Matt Carmichael are part of a Scottish contingent that also includes drummer Graham Costello’s STRATA, trombonist Liam Shortall's corto.alto and singer Georgia Cecile that will be appearing at the massive Love Supreme jazz, funk and soul festival in Sussex from July 1 to 3, 2022.


Following two years of cancellations the festival is going ahead with headline acts including saxophonists Gary Bartz and Charles Lloyd, guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage and Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke.


Soul music attractions Candi Staton and Sister Sledge join previously announced Saturday headliner Erykah Badu and a strong representation of UK jazz, with more names still to be announced.


Fergus McCreadie Trio (photo by Dave Stapleton)

22 November 2021Jazz stars McCreadie and Carmichael to play at Celtic Connections 2022

Pianist Fergus McCreadie and saxophonist Matt Carmichael bring their groups to Celtic Connections in Glasgow over the weekend of January 29 and 30.


Two of the leading musicians on the currently vibrant, young Scottish jazz scene, McCreadie and Carmichael have both release highly acclaimed albums during 2021.


McCreadie’s Cairn, the follow-up to his award-winning debut, Turas, received five stars from Mojo magazine and four stars from Jazzwise as well being “longlisted” (top 20 from over 300 entries) for the cross-genre Scottish Album of the Year Award.


Carmichael’s first album, Where Will the River Flow, also reached the SAY longlist and received five stars from BBC Music Magazine. Carmichael, who followed McCreadie in graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland jazz course this summer, also won all three of the awards presented at the end of the academic year at the RCS – for composition, arranging and improvisation – the first student to scoop all three awards.


Carmichael’s quintet, including BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017, fiddler Charlie Stewart, appears at the Mackintosh Church on Saturday January 29. McCreadie’s trio, which was nominated for the Jazz FM Awards 2021 and the Scottish Jazz Awards 2021, plays the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s New Auditorium on Sunday, January 30.



Fergus McCreadie (photo by Dave Stapleton) & Matt Carmichael (publicity photo) 


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