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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.


All hail to Louis the First


Louis Stewart (promotional photo)


The re-activated Livia Records, which is releasing Irish jazz guitar virtuoso Louis Stewart's back catalogue, will release issue Stewart's debut album, Louis the First on March 5th.


Recorded in 1975 with bassist Martin Walshe and drummer John Wadham, the album captures Stewart just as he joined saxophonist and jazz club proprietor Ronnie Scott's quartet, having previously starred with saxophonist Tubby Hayes and clarinettist Benny Goodman.


The original eight tracks, which included trios, a guitar and bass duet of Body and Soul and solo guitar pieces, will be augmented by a previously unreleased trio recording of Wayne Shorter's Footprints.


Livia Records have already released Stewart's classic 1977 solo album, Out on His Own, and a previously undiscovered duo recording by Stewart and pianist Noel Kelehan. Out on His Own has also been reissued on vinyl. Other releases are planned.



Jazz and traditional music on bill at Linlithgow


Chris Stout & Catriona McKay (promotion photo)



Red Door Promotions in Linlithgow have lined up a series of jazz and traditional music concerts to be held in St Peter’s Church from March through to June.


Saxophonists Graham Walker and John Burgess and the duos of fiddler Chris Stout and harper Catriona McKay and smallpipes player Brighde Chaimbeul and fiddler Aidan O'Rourke will be playing in the intimate church on Linlithgow High Street. 


Graham Walker brings two of Scotland’s young jazz stars, guitarist Kevin Henderson and bassist Ali Watson on Friday March 15th.


“Graham lives locally but was based in Belgium for many years and worked at a fairly high level on the scene over there,” says Red Door’s Robin Connelly. “He’s opened concerts for us before so we thought it was time to give him his own concert with Ali, whom people might know from saxophonist Matt Carmichael’s band, and Kevin, another of the many great young players who are emerging in Glasgow these days.”


John Burgess pays his first visit to St Peter’s with keyboardist Campbell Normand on Friday April 19th.


“John is a marvellously versatile player who absolutely excels on ballads,” says Robin Connelly. “He’s played on both sides of the Atlantic, studied with the great American saxophonist Joe Henderson and worked with Alan Skidmore, who is a real hero of the British jazz scene. John is playing a programme of Standards, Ballads and Blues and we’re looking forward to hearing his wonderfully rich tone and tremendously accomplished, classy musicianship in the intimate setting of St Peter’s.


Chris Stout & Catriona McKay return after two previous triumphs at St Peter's on Friday May 3rd, and Brìghde Chaimbeul & Aidan O’Rourke, who appear in Friday June 7th.


“These are really outstanding duos,” says Robin Connelly. “We’re particularly pleased to be presenting them as they’ll make it a tremendous finish to the series.”


Red Door concerts are sponsored by Veitch Solicitors & Notaries and tickets are available from Eventbrite.



Orchestra of top young talents plays Glasgow and Birnam gigs


TSYJO alumna saxophonist Helena Kay (photo by Benjamin Ealovega)


The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra plays concerts in Glasgow and Birnam in April.


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 Drygate, Glasgow on Saturday April 27th and Birnam Arts Centre on Sunday April 28th. Both concerts start at 2pm.







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