04 May 2024Pianist Euan Stevenson releases album inspired by his hometown

Pianist Euan Stevenson’s Earthtones Trio releases Sound Tracks, a digital album of Stevenson’s commission for Chamber Music Scotland and Classic Music Live Scotland, on May 22.


The Falkirk-born, Surrey-based pianist, who also co-leads the jazz group New Focus, is hoping the album will encourage more organisations to commission local composers to write music inspired by their hometowns. “It gives audiences a fillip also to hear new music that they can relate to,” he says.


Earthtones Trio features RSNO principal flautist Katherine Bryan and cellist Betsy Taylor alongside Stevenson on piano and is augmented by BBC Big Band drummer Tom Gordon on percussion for Sound Tracks.


A suite of nine contemporary classical music pieces Sound Tracks was inspired by the people, places and landmarks of Falkirk and themes include home, adventure, conflict, and nostalgia. The album is available from iOcco Classical. 

02 May 2024ECM adds more titles to its Luminessence reissue series

Leading European jazz label ECM Records has announced a further instalment of its Luminessence series of reissued albums from its extensive catalogue.


Trumpeter Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, from 1997 and featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, and the first album by supertrio Gateway, from 1975, will be released on vinyl on May 31.


Angel Song also featured Wheeler in the company of alto saxophone legend Lee Konitz and bassist Dave Holland in a drummerless quartet of the world’s leading improvisers and was greeted by glowing reviews on its original release.


Dave Holland also features in Gateway with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Jack DeJohnette, their debut release establishing a relationship between the three musicians that would produce a further three albums, as well as a stunning in-concert presence, over the following twenty years.

01 May 2024Top saxophonist Bobby Watson and guitarist Jim Mullen set for Glasgow Jazzfest

The outstanding alto saxophonist Bobby Watson and guitarist Jim Mullen are among the artists announced for Glasgow Jazz Festival, which runs from Wednesday 19th to Sunday 23rd June in various venues across the city.


Kansas-born Watson, who has carried the spirit of the legendary bebop master Charlie Parker into Art Blakey’s jazz academy, the Jazz Messengers, and on into his own distinguished career as a bandleader, brings his quartet to St Luke’s on Saturday 22nd June.


Jim Mullen, London-based but originally from Glasgow, is one of the most distinctive guitarists in jazz and fronts a trio with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s Peter Johnstone on Hammond organ and Alyn Cosker on drums at Oran Mor on Thursday 20th June.


Among those also appearing at the festival are saxophonist Helena Kay, spiritual jazz troupe Mama Terra, pianists Fergus McCreadie and Ben Shankland, Average White Band founder, singer-guitarist Hamish Stuart, Scottish singer kitti, folk music-influenced duo Norman&Corrie, vibes player Orphy Robinson, and jazz-electronica act Jazz Massive.

29 April 2024Playtime brings more jazz to the Outhouse in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Playtime jazz sessions have announced a new season of concerts. Beginning with the house quartet of saxophonist Martin Kershaw, guitarist Graeme Stephen, bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Tom Bancroft playing the music of Miles Davis on Thursday 2nd May, the concerts run fortnightly into July.


Violinist Greg Lawson and accordionist Phil Alexander, of Moishe’s Bagel and the new trio Triptic, join the house quartet to play the music of new tango creator Astor Piazzolla on 16th May. They’re followed by a celebration of Chicago-born saxophonist-composer Henry Threadgill, with guests, trumpeter Robert Henderson, trombonist Anoushka Nanguy and drummer Chun-Wei Kang.  


Guitarist and founder of the Celtic jazz band Lammas, Don Paterson appears on 13th June and singer and songwriter Michelle Willis follows on 27th June, with saxophonist Rachel Duns completing the series on 11th July.


Now in its tenth year, Playtime was founded by Kershaw and Stephen to create opportunities to play new music, with sessions initially taking place weekly. Joined by Caribe and Bancroft they have gone on to play tributes to most of the major figures in jazz as well as performing new compositions by all four musicians and on occasion playing completely improvised music.


“The loft space in the Outhouse has proved very conducive to sharing music in intimate sessions,” says Tom Bancroft. “As a group we’ve played in other venues, and in other towns and cities, and we’d like to do more of that. But the familiarity of the Outhouse is a big plus for us and audiences seem to enjoy it, too.”  

19 March 2024New Focus appear at Perth Festival of the Arts

New Focus, featuring leading jazz musicians, pianist Euan Stevenson and saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski, are among the artists lined up to appear at Perth Festival of the Arts, which runs from May 22 to June 1.


Stevenson and Wiszniewski will be presenting The Classical Connection, in which they highlight traits shared by classical composers and jazz musicians, at St John’s Church on Monday May 27. It’s an entertaining and informative show that includes plenty of illustrations of the duo’s superb jazz chops.


The festival’s music programme also features the internationally acclaimed Czech National Symphony Orchestra and top European ensembles II Giardino d'Amore, Tenebrae and the Hebrides Ensemble, as well as DJ Craig Charles and the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, and there’s a live brass band accompanied screening of Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers and an appearance by comedian Rory Bremner.

08 March 2024National treasure Jock Duncan to be celebrated in new book

Jock Duncan, the revered singer of songs from the North-East of Scotland, is the subject of a new book to be published on March 17th.


Recognised as a cultural icon and one of Scotland’s greatest traditional singers, Jock Duncan grew up in the Buchan area of Aberdeenshire and was part of the last generation of tradition bearers to inherit his songs from a living oral tradition.


He later moved to Pitlochry, where his sons, Ian and Gordon became leading figures on the piping scene. Father and sons had the distinction of all being recipients of the Herald Angel award, which the Scottish newspaper presented for exceptional performances in Edinburgh during the festival season.


The book, called Jock Duncan: The Man and his Songs and published by Rymour Books of Perth, includes the words and tunes of the songs Duncan sang together with detailed notes and a biography of the singer, who died aged ninety-six in 2021.


A new CD, containing many previously unavailable recordings, is being released by Springthyme Records to coincide with the book's publication. 


A book launch and concert are being held at the Cowdray Hall in Aberdeen on Sunday, March 17 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.

01 March 2024Classic albums by saxophone great Bobby Wellins re-issued

Jazz in Britain have released the two albums that the great tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins recorded for the Vortex label in the late 1970s.


Packaged as What Was Happening in a 2-CD set with previously unreleased live tracks, Jubilation and Dreams Are Free capture the classic Bobby Wellins Quartet at its imperious best.


Joined by Peter Jacobsen (piano, electric piano and organ), Adrian Kendon (bass) and Spike Wells (drums), Wellins was announcing that one of the most distinctive saxophonists anywhere was back after a period of inactivity, playing with his trademark sound and magisterial eloquence and fronting a great band.


Long unavailable, Jubilation and particularly Dreams Are Free will be welcome additions to any serious observer of the British jazz scene’s collection.  Although not exactly over-recorded, Wellins made a number of albums in the wake of the Vortex releases, notably Making Light Work, which was produced in 1983 exclusively for staff at the Ercol Lighting Company in Germany and was finally made generally available by the Scottish label Hep Records.


Wellins also recorded with trombonist Jimmy Knepper and baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, as well as – most famously – with pianist Stan Tracey, whose Under Milk Wood includes Wellins’ best known solo, on Starless & Bible Black. His Culloden Moor Suite, which lay almost forgotten for many years, was reactivated, toured and recorded by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, with Wellins as featured soloist, two years before the saxophonist died, aged eighty, in 2016.


What Was Happening is available from Jazz in Britain's Bandcamp page



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