25 March 2023Glasgow jazz-fusion band C.A.L.I.E launches debut single

Glasgow-based jazz-fusion septet C.A.L.I.E launches its debut single, Let Go, at Nice N Sleazy in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow on Wednesday 5th April.


Composed by bandleader and saxophonist, Josie Girgis, the instrumental aims to inspire its listeners to ‘let go’ of their inhibitions and insecurities.


Influenced by Scottish groups including Mezcla and Fat Suit and the international bands Huntertones and Snarky Puppy, C.A.L.I.E takes its name from Josie Girgis’s personal self-diagnosis of ‘creative and lacking in energy’ – a sentiment with which, she feels, many musicians and artists will be familiar.


The group includes BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022, bassist Ewan Hastie and Let Go also features guest guitarist Ben MacDonald, whose recent work includes James Lindsay’s Torus, Mezcla, Fine Men With Foul Tongues, and Fat Suit drummer Mark Scobbie’s Tomorrow’s Today album.



18 March 2023Saxophonist Helena Kay set for Scottish tour

Award-winning saxophonist, Helena Kay’s KIM Trio tour Scotland in support of their latest album, Golden Sands, from Thursday, March 30.


The album has won both praise and plays from radio presenters in Canada, the US, Australia, Ireland and the UK. One Italian magazine even went as far as to place Golden Sands among the best of current jazz.


“That’s very flattering,” says Kay. “But the coverage that has touched me most was the programme in Atlanta that used Xian Impressions from the album as the bridge between its tribute to the great Wayne Shorter, who died earlier this month, and the new music on its playlist. Being considered good enough to follow Wayne Shorter is quite a compliment.”


Although still in her twenties, Kay has been impressing knowledgeable jazz observers for close on ten years now. Richard Michael, the indefatigable director of Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra was always keen to feature Kay as a teenage soloist. Then, in the final of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year in 2015, the judges, including one of Scotland’s greatest-ever jazz musicians, the late saxophonist Bobby Wellins, selected Kay as the winner.


Perth-born Kay went on to win the much-coveted Peter Whittingham Jazz Award in 2017. Having graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London the previous year, Kay used the cash prize from the Whittingham Award to finance the recording of the KIM Trio’s first album, Moon Palace.


A period spent living, working and studying in New York followed. Kay took advantage of having access to top players, including Chilean saxophone star Melissa Aldana, Dayna Stephens, Chris Cheek and Rodney Green to take lessons with them.


The music on Golden Sands drew its influences from the places Kay has called home – Scotland, London and New York. It was brought to fruition by the new-look KIM Trio (Kay, Calum Gourlay, replacing Ferg Ireland, on bass and Dave Ingamells on drums) with the addition of Kay’s long-time colleague and friend, pianist Peter Johnstone, who will be on the tour.


“Pete and I seem to have been either in the same band or pursuing the same goals forever,” says Kay. “He won the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year title three years ahead of me. Then we played in the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra at the same time. Now he’s in my band, which is really a quartet rather than a trio, and we’re both also playing with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.”


Kay and Johnstone also play as a duo and have added a duo concert in Linlithgow on Friday, April 14 after the KIM Trio dates.


The tour opens at the Beacon Jazz Club in Greenock on Thursday, March 30 and visits Heart of Hawick (31st), Perth Theatre (April 1), the Merchants House in Glasgow (April 2) and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh (April 3), ending at Mareel in Lerwick on April 4.


“I can’t wait to play these concerts,” says Kay. “We’re covering quite a lot of miles, going to some lovely parts of Scotland and playing in some great venues. We’ll be playing a few new compositions as well as tracks from Golden Sands and we’re really looking forward to sharing this music with the audiences.”     

16 March 2023Scottish National Jazz Orchestra brings world of Japanese gods to Perth

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra will bring down the curtain on this year’s Perth Festival of the Arts with a performance of World of the Gods featuring Japanese percussion masters, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on Saturday May 27.


Composed by the SNJO’s artistic director, saxophonist Tommy Smith, World of the Gods unites East and West, ancient and modern, contemporary improvisation and a 2000-year-old musical tradition in a spectacular piece that was first performed in 2010.


“It’s a project we’ve wanted to return to for some time,” says Smith, whose work sets new music and traditional Japanese melodies to Mugenkyo’s rhythmical choreography. “So we’re looking forward to bringing it to Perth Festival of the Arts.


The festival opens on Thursday May 18 and features internationally renowned and Scottish talent from the world of music, arts and culture. Musical highlights includes George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, the Scots Opera Project performing Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Granville Bantock's The Seal Woman and an evening dedicated to French swing violin master Stephane Grappelli, starring violinist and broadcaster Seonaid Aitken. Jools Holland also makes his annual festival appearance.

11 March 2023Major international attractions bound for top jazz event in Normandy

Bassists Renaud Garcia-Fons, Marcus Miller and Kyle Eastwood, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and guitarist Julian Lage are among the musicians in the programme for Jazz sous les pommiers in Normandy from May 13 to 20.


One of the great “tastemaker” jazz festivals in Europe, Jazz sous les pommiers consistently features top American names while also celebrating European musicians and showcasing the French scene.


As well as the phenomenal Garcia-Fons, the programme boasts major European players including drummer Daniel Humair, trumpeter Eric Truffaz and violinist Dominique Pifarely and pairs Kyle Eastwood’s quintet with l’Orchestre Regional de Normandie.


Soul-Blues guitarist Robert Cray, London-born Nigerian saxophonist Femi Kuti (eldest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti), Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda and Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba – who appears in a duo with saxophonist Pierrick Pédron – and saxophonist Steve Coleman are among the eclectic range of musicians who will be appearing at the festival, which takes place in the beautiful small Normandy town of Countances every spring.


Renaud Garcia-Fons (publicity photo)

09 March 2023Sonna Records marks third anniversary with new signing

Netherlands-based Sonna Records is celebrating its third anniversary with the release of new signing Merel van Hoek’s first album for the label, Together We Are.


Founded by vocalist Sanne Rambags, the label reflects its founder’s quest for adventurous collaborations and features musicians whose philosophies match Rambags’ own watchwords of sincerity, adventure and strength.


The name Sonna came about during a visit to Norway when a local resident misheard Rambags’ first name.


As well as recording her own music on a series of singles and a planned trilogy of albums, Rambags works with the Dutch trio Under the Surface. Featuring drummer Joost Lijbaart, who is best known for his long-term collaboration with saxophonist Yuri Honing, and guitarist Bram Stadhouders, who has worked with ice music master Terje Isungset and the baroque group B.O.X., Under the Surface has toured the world extensively and released three albums. Their most recent album, Miin Triuwa, features Rambags singing in Old Dutch, the language that was spoken in the Low Countries during the early middle ages.  


Under the Surface (Sanne Rambags with Bram Sadhouders left and Joost Lijbaart right) 

16 February 2023Singer Christine Tobin returns with homecoming album

Dublin-born singer Christine Tobin releases a new album, Retuning Weather, on Friday 3rd March.


Part homecoming, part memoir and inspired by Christine’s return to Ireland after many years living and working in London and, latterly, Brooklyn abroad the nine tracks explore themes of finding home, dwelling and landscape, reconnecting with a cultural background, reshaping a sense of identity and belonging.


The album features Christine with a first-class group of musicians from different disciplines – Cora Venus Lunny (violin and viola), David Powe (uilleann pipes and whistles), Scottish jazz pianist Steve Hamilton and Christine’s partner, Phil Robson on guitar and electronics.


Christine sang with Celtic jazz group Lammas during the 1990s before going to record a series of well-received albums under her own name, including adaptations of WB Yeats poems, a reimagining of Carole King’s Tapestry and a Leonard Cohen tribute, A Thousand Kisses Deep.


Returning Weather reflects her varied musical and cultural interests and blends influences from folk, jazz and 20th-century art song.


08 February 2023Jazz at the Merchants House in Glasgow returns

Glasgow-born, London-based drummer Corrie Dick returns to his hometown to open the latest series of Jazz at the Merchants House with his quintet on Sunday 19th February.


Dick, who graduated from Trinity Laban’s jazz course as a gold medal student, has been a prolific participant on the London scene since his student days, working with trumpeter Laura Jurd’s Mercury Prize-shortlisted group Dinosaur, pianist Elliot Galvin’s trio and guitarist Rob Luft’s group as well as leading his own band.


He released his first album, Impossible Things in 2015 and will be promoting his latest recording, Sun Swells, in Glasgow with singer-cellist Moidori Jaeger, guitarist James Kitchman, alto saxophonist Norman Willmore, and pianist Tom Gibbs.


Following Dick’s concert, Jazz at the Merchants House continues with the Edinburgh-based Scottish National Jazz Orchestra saxophonist, Martin Kershaw’s octet on Sunday 12th March.


Kershaw’s colleague from the SNJO saxophone section, Helena Kay’s KIM Trio appears on 2nd April followed by a double bill of solo performances from pianist Brian Kellock and drummer Alyn Cosker on 7th May, Violinist, singer and host of BBC Radio Scotland’s under-threat Jazz Nights, Seonaid Aitken’s Chasing Sakura ensemble completes the programme on 4th June.

02 February 2023Outstanding jazz and folk musicians play in Linlithgow concerts

The Red Door concerts at St Peter’s Church in Linlithgow return on 10 February when multi-instrumentalist Fraser Fifield and guitarist Graeme Stephen visit the High Street venue.


A saxophonist, piper and whistle virtuoso, Fifield has collaborated with leading international names including Indian percussion master Zakir Hussain, Argentinean bandoneonista Walther Castro and the widely revered Dutch trio Nordanians. He has also played with prominent Scottish acts such as Capercaillie, Old Blind Dogs and Salsa Celtica.


His partnership with Graeme Stephen dates back some twenty years when they first worked together in Aberdeen and they have subsequently featured on each other’s albums and in each other’s groups in addition to developing an enviable understanding as a duo.


“We’re really pleased to welcome these two outstanding musicians to St Peter’s for the first concert of the new series,” says Red Door organiser Robin Connelly. “Our audience has come to expect high quality and we feel that the intimate space in St Peter’s gives people the opportunity to really appreciate great music at close quarters.”


The new series is only the second set of concerts Red Door have staged since the pandemic.


“The unique selling point of St Peter’s, that intimacy, made us wary of returning too soon,” says Connelly. “But people seemed to be really keen to get back to concertgoing when we re-launched last autumn. I think there’s something special about listening to music in St Peter’s. The concerts are generally acoustic and that adds to the feeling of personal communication between players and listeners.”


Following Fraser Fifield & Graeme Stephen, Red Door welcome the return to St Peter’s of Romanian singer-songwriter Lizabett Russo, who will be singing songs from her latest album, While I sit and watch this tree volume 2, on Thursday 9th March.


Saxophonist Helena Kay and pianist Peter Johnstone, both holders of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year title and both enjoying success in their own careers as well as currently featuring with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, play in St Peter’s on Friday 14th April. Then, on Friday 12th May, Shetlanders Jenna Reid and Harris Playfair bring their dynamic fiddle and piano music to St Peter’s.


“Helena and Pete and Jenna and Harris represent different styles of music but share the common traits of zest and adventure that we like to bring to Red Door gigs,” says Connelly. “We’re really looking forward to presenting them in St Peter’s.”


Tickets for Red Door concerts are available from Eventbrite.

01 February 2023Folk and jazz stars set the controls for the Heart of Hawick

Heart of Hawick has announced its latest programme of folk and jazz concerts featuring nationally and internationally recognised musicians.


Juno-nominated Canadian music duo Madison Violet appear in the Borders venue on Saturday 4th February. Comprising singer-songwriters Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac, the duo is currently touring the UK and has recently played a successful gig at Celtic Connections in Glasgow.


Former BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, singer Hannah Rarity follows on Saturday 4th March and respected traditional singer George Duff’s band appears on Friday 24th March.


The first of two major jazz attractions, saxophonist Helena Kay’s KIM Trio stops off in Hawick on its latest Scottish tour on Friday 31st March. The group, led by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s resident alto player and Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year 2016, recently released its second album, Golden Sands, which features as guest, the multi-award-winning pianist Peter Johnstone, who joins the trio in Hawick.


Shetland fiddle and piano duo Jenna Reid & Harris Playfair continue to celebrate the release of their long-awaited album, One Day, on Saturday 15th April. One Day was launched at Celtic Connections in January and is earning enthusiastic responses.


Dutch violinist Tim Kliphuis’ trio completes the programme on Saturday 27th May. Known for his swinging approach in the style of the late French virtuoso Stephane Grappelli, Kliphuis marries jazz with classical and music from various folk traditions and has become a popular attraction around the world. He’s joined by two Scots, guitarist Nigel Clark and double bassist Roy Percy.  

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