Low whistle master releases his most daring recording to date


Fraser Fifield (photo by Douglas Robertson) 


Low whistle virtuoso Fraser Fifield releases Second Sight, the third in a trilogy of albums supported by Creative Scotland, on Friday August X.


As with the previous two albums in the series, Second Sight finds Fifield working in a trio, with guitarist Graeme Stephen and bassist Elie Afif this time inspiring Fifield to new levels of virtuosic, improvised creativity and adventure that showcase the low whistle as an instrument capable of great expression.


While Fifield and Stephen have enjoyed a long musical partnership – they played their first, impromptu gig together as last-minute stand-ins for a radio broadcast from Aberdeen in 1996 – this was Fifield's first meeting with Beirut-born Afif.


“Elie is equally proficient on acoustic and electric basses but I had a trio of whistle, guitar and bass guitar in mind,” says Fifield. “I thought that would work best for the music I’d written and it was clear as soon as Elie began to play, from his ability to articulate intricate lines with feeling while gelling with Graeme and myself, that he’s a terrific player.”


With one exception, Lolanders, the music on Second Sight was written specially for the recording session. Lolanders dates from the successful Dutch-Scottish project of the same name that featured Fifield and Stephen with three top musicians from the Netherlands and Indo-Scottish tabla master Sodhi Deerhe. Its knotty, sinuous lines reveal the trio as a satisfyingly tight unit.


"Most of the tunes are quite simple," says Fifield. "I wanted to leave lots of space for all three of us to interact and knowing Graeme's capabilities particularly, I was sure he would respond to a freer approach. He's such a creative player and he and Elie really entered into the spirit of the session. On No Distance, for example, I'd written the melody you hear at the end and we improvised our way towards it, quite successfully, I think."


In keeping with Fifield's liking for capturing the music in the moment, the album was recorded in one day. Stylistically it's another departure, Fifield's aim with all three trio albums being to take the low whistle out of its familiar territory.


"It's somewhere between the desert blues of Tinariwen, especially with Graeme bringing a grungy edge to his playing, and a step or two beyond the Scottish tradition," says Fifield. "The whole point of this trilogy was to be exploratory and see where the music goes through being open to other styles and influences."



Summer Jazz Camp Scotland returns


Aspiring jazz musicians can develop their skills with top instrumental tutors in an idyllic location in Scotland’s South Lanarkshire hills from 8th to 12th August. 


Now in its second year, Summer Jazz Camp Scotland aims to take jazz players from age 12 to 22 to the next level in their musical journey. Participants will be under the guidance of a team led by internationally respected trumpeter Ryan Quigley and hugely experienced drummer Andrew Bain, the current Head of Jazz at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.


Located at Wiston Lodge, a Victorian hunting lodge near the attractive Clydesdale town of Biggar, the summer camp is designed to cover all aspects of jazz music, from the fundamentals of jazz theory to advanced techniques in big band and ensemble playing.


Joining Quigley and Bain are three internationally acclaimed performers, recording artists and teachers, saxophonist Helena Kay, pianist Tom Gibbs and double bassist Brodie Laird-Jarvie.


An established player with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Helena Kay also leads an outstanding quartet and works with pianist Zoe Rahman, violinist Seonaid Aitken and trumpeters Yazz Ahmed and Sean Gibbs. Tom Gibbs teaches on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland jazz course and has recorded with New Yorkers, drummer Ari Hoenig and guitarist Gilad Hekselman and Brodie Laird-Jarvie is a graduate from Amsterdam Conservatoire. He has also worked with saxophonists Tommy Smith and Brian Molley and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.


“It’s a highly qualified and talented group of tutors who have a wealth of professional experience and can give students the tools they need to become confident and expressive musicians,“ says Quigley whose touring and recording credits include work with Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Michael Buble, Ron Carter, and Burt Bacharach as well as many of Europe’s leading orchestras.


Quigley believes that jazz is a powerful tool for personal and artistic growth and he and his team will be striving to give all students the passion and self-belief that will allow them to improvise, collaborate, and perform with ease.


“Above all, we want students to enjoy playing jazz and to feel a sense of achievement in their own playing and in playing with other musicians,” says Quigley.


The summer camp venue, Wiston Lodge is an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow but, says Quigley, it is miles away from the distractions of city life.


“We know from last year that it’s an inspiring environment,” he says. “The accommodation is ideal and the food is all about balance and nutrition. Everything is set up so that students get the most out of the experience.”


The five-day course costs £650 and includes all meals and accommodation onsite. A deposit of £150 is required and the full balance is due by 30th June. Bookings made after the 30th June must be accompanied by the full fee for the course. Deposits are non-refundable.

Further details are available from



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.





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