20 February 2024New recordings of Gaelic songs made available for World Gaelic Week

Ten new recordings of Gaelic songs have been added to the Fuaran project, established by Fèisean nan Gàidheal to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and singers to actively engage in the research and collection of Gaelic songs in their local area.


Published to coincide with Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week), the recordings feature six young people aged between 16 and 25 who took part in the fourth series of Fuaran in 2023.  


The six participants were Shannon MacLean (Mull), Mirren Ward (Glasgow), Iris MacLeod (Edinburgh), Caitlin Yule (Cumbernauld), Aileas MacLeod (Isle of Skye), and Eilidh MacPhee (Inverness). Their new recordings, with each song captured on video, have been added to the Fuaran archive which now consists of more than 100 songs, a valuable resource for local Fèisean and anyone interested in Gaelic song. 


Fèisean nan Gàidheal's Development Officer, Abi Reid, who managed the project said: "It was a pleasure to work on the Fuaran project with such a lovely group.  I was enjoyable to see their research come together over the months and we had a great, creative weekend in Cromarty last August.   I'm really happy the videos are now online and hope the singers are feeling extremely proud of their achievements."

20 February 2024ECM adds three more classic albums to its Luminessence series

Leading European jazz label ECM Records adds three titles to its Luminessence series of reissued classics on March 1st.


Norwegian saxophone hero Jan Garbarek’s 1970 recording, Afric Pepperbird features Garbarek with the other three members of Norway’s big four of the time – guitarist Terje Rypdal, double bass master Arild Andersen and the late, much-missed Jon Christensen on drums.


Garbarek is also the featured soloist on Keith Jarrett’s Luminessence, the orchestrated work from 1974 that Jarrett wrote with the saxophonist in mind at a time when the pianist was leading his Scandi quartet with Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen, again, on drums.


The third album, Azimuth’s self-titled debut finds the great British vocalist Norma Winstone with the equally great pianist John Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler defining a sound that would serve them beautifully over the next decade or more. The track that opens side two of the vinyl edition of the album, The Tunnel has more recently seen Norma Winstone, the sole surviving member of the trio, reaching an enormous audience through its sampling by Canadian rapper Drake.

15 February 2024Mavis Staples' Have a Little Faith gets Record Store Day vinyl reissue

Trailblazing blues label Alligator Records is releasing a deluxe 20th Anniversary 2-LP vinyl version of soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples' landmark 2004 release, Have a Little Faith, on Record Store Day, April 20th.


Have a Little Faith is the album that sparked Mavis Stapes' solo career and launched her into the musical mainstream.


An inspirational force in modern popular culture and music, Mavis Staples faced an uncertain future when her father – family patriarch and leader of the Staple Singers, Pops Staples – died.


She self-financed and recorded her own solo album, and after being turned down by major labels unable to see the commercial appeal of this legend's fresh, genre-busting approach to spiritual music, it was picked up by Alligator Records. The label's enthusiasm in working the album to press, radio and the public helped Mavis Staples fulfil her dream of a successful solo career.


"I was a Staple Singer," she remembers in the album's new liner notes. "I wasn't no Mavis Staples, the solo artist. But all of a sudden, I was so busy with interviews and television shows and radio stations and concerts. That was a shock to me, because I started asking myself, 'Now how long can this last?' Because they were playing that record everywhere, and the record sounded pretty good!"


Since the release of Have a Little Faith, Mavis Staples has been embraced by new generations of fans through her collaborations with artists including Ry Cooder, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, and Neko Case. Her 85th Birthday Concert in Los Angeles on April 18 will endorse this with appearances by a cast including Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, Norah Jones, Michael McDonald, and Keb' Mo'.

07 February 2024Guitarists Martin Taylor and Graeme Stephen and saxophonist Tommy Smith bound for Aberdeen

Guitar master Martin Taylor, internationally acclaimed saxophonist Tommy Smith, in a duo with pianist Peter Johnstone, Glasgow collective corto.alto, pianists Britta Virves and Brian Kellock and drummer Sun Mi Hong are among the musicians appearing at Aberdeen Jazz Festival, which runs from March 14th to 24th.


Taking place in venues across the Granite City, the festival also features Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra's inspirational musical director's Doric Suite played by the specially formed Aberdeen Jazz Festival Orchestra. Stockholm-based pianist Britta Virves brings her trio and Amsterdam-based Korean drummer Sun Mi Hong plays in a trio with Scottish bassist Brodie Laird-Jarvie and trumpeter Alaistair Payne. 


There are also new bands led by Aberdeen-born guitarist Graeme Stephen, London-based saxophonist Alex Hitchcock and trumpeter Colin Steele as well as guests from New York and the local music scene.

23 January 2024Drummer Stu Brown, trombonist Anousha Nanguy and saxophonist Laura Macdonald set for Playtime sessions

The versatile drummer Stu Brown appears in the first of a new series of Playtime session at the Outhouse in Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh on Thursday February 8th.


Brown, whose work includes gigs with the Brazilian-styled Boteco Trio and folk rockers Peat Bog Faeries, as well as his own cartoon music project Twisted Toons, leads a programme that brings guitarist Ben MacDonald, trombonist Anoushka Nanguy, trumpeter Jon Green and saxophonist Laura Macdonald to the popular loft venue.


Playtime began in 2014 when saxophonist Martin Kershaw and guitarist Graeme Stephen invited bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Tom Bancroft to play intimate sessions at the Outhouse to give the four musicians an opportunity to play regularly and to present new music.


Originally held weekly, Playtime sessions are now fortnightly and have seen the core quartet joined by numerous guests and allowed them to pay tribute to jazz greats including John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Bill Evans and to play completely spontaneously on occasion. The latest series includes a special 10th anniversary session featuring the core quartet on April 4th.


The full programme is:

Stu Brown Double Dr-um-ami (February 8th) 
Ben MacDonald plays Sam Rivers (February 22nd)
Anoushka Nanguy (March 7th)
Jon Green Sextet feat Phil Bancroft  (March 21st)
Playtime 10th Anniversary Gig (April 4th)
Laura MacDonald (April 18th)


Tickets are available at the door, priced £15 and £10 (concessions). The music begins at 8:15pm and will also be available to stream on Facebook, Twitch TV and YouTube.

17 January 2024Alto saxophone legend Art Pepper in vinyl reissue schedule

The legacy of alto saxophone legend Art Pepper is celebrated through three of his albums being included in the latest instalment of the Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series of vinyl and hi-res digital releases made available through Craft Recordings.


Pepper, whose widow, Laurie, has made many of his previously unreleased late recordings available, was a major force in the Contemporary Records catalogue of the late 1950s through to the 1970s despite well-documented problems with drug addiction that saw him serve time in prison.


His albums Smack Up, Gettin’ Together and Intensity, which are included in this new catch of reissues, are among his fans’ favourites of the Contemporary period.


They join releases including fellow saxophonists Sonny Rollins’ classic Way Out West, Harold Land’s The Fox and Ben Webster’s At the Renaissance to be pressed on 180-gramme vinyl and presented in old-style tip-on jackets during 2024.


Also included are Pepper associate, pianist Hampton Hawes, singer Helen Humes and two players who went on to reach an audience beyond jazz aficionadiswith Tom Waits, drummer Shelly Manne and saxophonist Teddy Edwards.


The full schedule of releases is:


Art Pepper Quintet — Smack Up (releasing February 23, 2024)

Shelly Manne & His Men — At the Black Hawk, Vol. 1. (releasing March 1, 2024)

Harold Land — The Fox (releasing April 12, 2024)

Hampton Hawes — For Real! (releasing May 17, 2024)

Howard McGhee — Maggie’s Back in Town!! (releasing June 14, 2024)

Teddy Edwards & Howard McGhee — Together Again!!!! (releasing July 12, 2024)

Prince Lasha Quintet — The Cry! (releasing August 16, 2024)

Ben Webster — At the Renaissance (releasing September 13, 2024)

Art Pepper — Gettin’ Together! (releasing October 11, 2024)

Art Pepper — Intensity (releasing October 11, 2024)

Helen Humes — Songs I Like to Sing! (releasing November 8, 2024)

Sonny Rollins — Way Out West (releasing December 6, 2024)

14 January 2024Pianist Lynne Arriale releases new suite of socially aware compositions

Pianist-composer Lynne Arriale releases Being Human, her 17th album as a leader, on Challenge Records International on March 1st.


Comprising a suite of ten original compositions, it features the Milwaukee-born Arriale with bassist Alon Near and drummer Lukasz Zyta.


In keeping with the social awareness shown on previous albums – she highlighted the often-overlooked political aspect of the Guess Who’s hit song American Woman in one collection, the suite was written in response to the division and turmoil in the world. It includes dedications climate activist Greta Thunberg, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai. 


"The music focuses on qualities we all share, that define our humanity,” says Arriale. “I hope this album will be uplifting and convey a sense of unity and optimism. The dedications reflect my admiration for those who I feel personify the traits that inspired the music."


Arriale has been a significant and distinctive voice in the jazz world over a career spanning three decades. She has performed on the most prestigious international concert stages and and toured to innumerable countries including Brazil, South Africa, China and Scotland, where she has appeared at Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. She appears at Pizza Express in London on April 8 and 9.

12 January 2024Multi-instrumentalist Fifield launches album inspired by renowned traveller-storyteller

Low whistle virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Fraser Fifield launches a new album, One Great Circle at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow on Saturday March 9th at 8pm.


Featuring music specially written to perform with long-time friends, the outstanding fiddle and harp duo Chris Stout and Catriona McKay, the album forms part of Fifield’s output as Artist in Residence for the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh.


One Great Circle is inspired by the supernatural stories of Stanley Robertson, the storyteller, singer, and member of the Travelling community of Northeast Scotland, who died aged sixty-nine in 2009 and whose recorded voice lends atmosphere to the live performance.


The piece was premiered very successfully in Edinburgh in October 2023 and follows Fifield’s enthusiastically received album featuring his low whistle prowess, Secret Path.

11 January 2024Bluegrass guitar wizard Tony Rice's 1980s classic set for re-release

Bluegrass guitar master Tony Rice’s acclaimed 1983 album, Church Street Blues is set for a special vinyl reissue on April 5th via Craft Recordings.


Long out-of-print, the album featured the Grammy-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter interpreting an eclectic selection of modern and traditional folk songs, including Tom Paxton’s Last Thing on My Mind, Bob Dylan’s One More Night, Ralph McTell's Streets of London, and Norman Blake’s title track.


One of the most revered names in bluegrass and an enormously influential guitarist, Rice, who died aged sixty-nine in 2020, helped to shape the sound of the genre and the new acoustic music that grew out of it.


Born in Virginia and raised in Los Angeles, he launched his career in Louisville, Kentucky, where he became the lead vocalist and guitarist of J.D. Crowe’s legendary bluegrass group, The New South, alongside dobro legend Jerry Douglas and mandolinist Ricky Skaggs.


In the mid-’70s, not long after the release of their self-titled bestseller, Rice returned to California to join mandolin virtuoso David Grisman’s quintet. Working alongside Grisman, Rice broadened his musical palate—exploring jazz, classical and other styles—while honing his technique on the guitar.


Although Rice was a crucial contributor to the New South and Grisman’s group, Church Street Blues featured him largely solo, showcasing his strengths as a performer and as a musician of exceptional gifts.  

21 December 2023Award-winning fiddle and harp duo announce Scottish concerts

Dynamic fiddle and harp virtuosi, Chris Stout & Catriona McKay play concerts in Edinburgh and Perth in February and March.


Fair Isle-born Stout and McKay, from Dundee, have a musical understanding that has been developed over thirty years of playing together both as a duo and in the long-established Shetland band Fiddlers’ Bid.


They have won awards including the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Duo title and a Herald Angel, which the newspaper awarded for excellence in performance during Edinburgh’s August festival season.


Their albums, including their latest, Bare Knuckle have earned enthusiastic reviews internationally and their concert experience includes Sydney Opera House and collaborations with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Ensemble.


They play at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh on February 24th and Perth Theatre on March 2nd.

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