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Bancroft goes Headlong into Myriad Streams


Scottish saxophonist-composer Phil Bancroft releases two new additions to his groundbreaking web platform, Myriad Streams on May 31.


The all-star quartet album Headlong, featuring The Bad Plus bassist Reid Anderson, Norwegian drummer-percussionist Thomas Strønen and the outstanding British guitarist Mike Walker, is joined by Birth and Death featuring Bancroft and tabla master Gyan Singh.


A major figure on Scotland’s burgeoning jazz scene, Bancroft has played a crucial role in bands including the John Rae Collective and the award-winning Trio AAB, Bancroft released Headlong on the Scottish label Caber in 2004. The album was acclaimed for its combination of gutsiness, lyricism and playfulness before slipping from view with Caber’s demise shortly after its release.


Twenty years on, however, it remains an impressive document of Bancroft’s writing talents and the four musicians’ empathy and collective creativity.


Birth and Death reflects Bancroft’s love of the Indian Classical tradition – he has visited India several times to perform – and it resulted from a concert Bancroft played with Gyan Singh’s brilliant fusion band, Mrigya in Delhi. The saxophonist and the tabla player then met and played as a duo in Scotland, achieving an instant understanding.


Recorded in Bancroft’s home in Glenkinchie, just outside Edinburgh, and in Quarter Note Studios in Delhi, Birth and Death is contemporary improvised music, drawing on Celtic, jazz and Indian traditions while striving for a new sound of its own.


The two albums form the second instalment of music released on Bancroft’s artist-led web platform, Myriad Streams, which Bancroft conceived as an alternative to Spotify. The intention is to offer listeners a more considered opportunity to discover and get to know a musician without thousands of other artists demanding their attention.



Young jazz talents play in Strathaven and St Andrews


TSYJO alumna saxophonist Helena Kay (photo by Benjamin Ealovega)


The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra plays concerts in Strathaven, in Lanarkshire, and St Andrews, in Fife, during May.


A band whose past members include some of the biggest talents in Scottish jazz today, TSYJO has nurtured musicians including Scottish Album of the Year Award 2022 winner and Mercury Music Prize nominee, pianist Fergus McCreadie. 


BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2022, bassist Ewan Hastie, and Scottish Jazz Awards 2023 winners, saxophonist Matt Carmichael and trombonist Liam Shortall, as well as former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, saxophonist Helena Kay, are also TSYJO alumni.


The orchestra was founded by internationally acclaimed saxophonist Tommy Smith in 2002 to provide a free educational opportunity for Scotland’s best young jazz musicians.


“I was aware that there were a lot of young musicians coming through, and I wanted to give them, not just a platform to play on, but also the chance to play music that would challenge and help them to develop without the need to pay for the opportunity,” says Smith.


Playing in TSYJO is effective training as several of the musicians who are currently appearing with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra emerged through the youth orchestra.


“The music the young musicians play in TSYJO is the same music – the same parts and arrangements – that their older colleagues in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra have played in concert and on record,” says Smith.


This policy has led to TSYJO achieving success in the recording industry with three albums released that have all received enthusiastic reviews from leading jazz critics and publications internationally.


Smith says, “We can guarantee that the audience will hear orchestral jazz played with skill, verve and exuberance. Our current members include pianist Ben Shankland, who won the BBC Radio Scotland Young Jazz Musician of the Year title in November. So, based on this and past examples, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that these concerts are a chance to hear the future of jazz in Scotland and beyond.”


The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra plays Strathaven Town Mill on Saturday May 18 and the Laidlaw Music Centre, St Andrews on Sunday May 19. Both concerts start at 2pm.







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