Glasgow Jazz Festival Round-up

Here’s a round-up of the weekend’s Glasgow Jazz Festival, courtesy of one of the UK’s liveliest jazz bloggers, Jennifer of theEuphbass blog, who has been covering the festival in more detail and virtually in real time.

All photos by William Ellis.

It’s been a good festival – I was at seven gigs this year over the week (there are many more). It’s hard to pick favourites – I can’t decide between Mina Agossi, Brass Jaw and Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, although, for sheer audience excitement, it would be hard to beat Mike Janisch‘s gig with unexpected guests Wynton Marsalis and Ryan Quigley, and the subsequent jam session at The Thistle!

There’s been plenty for the big band enthusiast this year, with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra on the Tuesday night playing Tommy Smith’s tour de force, Torah (with Smith himself as the soloist) followed by the contrasting Such Sweet Thunder by Ellington. Saturday night saw the Ryan Quigley Big Band in a tribute to Maynard Ferguson, with Quigley taking on the starring role of his trumpet hero to great effect. (See two photos below and above from this gig) Sunday saw the big name gig of the festival with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra. They covered a range of Ellington pieces, moving on to a selection of eras and styles from an interesting full band arrangement of Coltrane’s treatment of My Favourite Things to an original composition by one of the band members based on Baa Baa Black Sheep which featured a brass chorus of baa-ing sheep!

In a completely different vein, vocalist Mina Agossi on Monday night was outstanding. She was working with acoustic bass and drums only, the keyboard / electric guitarist being unable to make this gig. A favourite from that gig was their cover of And I Love Her by the Beatles, with looped bass and vocals only (although the pitching on the looped track wasn’t quite right, but what can you do once it’s set up!).

Brass Jaw on Friday were on top form, one of the sell-out shows of the festival. This is a band that gets better with each gig, and they’ve already moved way beyond the recordings of the material on their CD Deal With It.Look out for clips from this gig on YouTube – it was being filmed and officially recorded.

Sunday night was quite an experience. Following the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra we headed upstairs to Michael Janisch’s gig in The Green Room. Mike was playing a selection of tracks from his recent CD Purpose Built, with Andrew Bain on drums, Jay Phelps (photo below) on trumpet and Steve Hamilton on piano. They were on their third or fourth piece when Wynton Marsalis (who had come up from his gig downstairs) was invited on stage to much enthusiasm from the audience. For the last piece, Ryan Quigley also joined them on trumpet, resulting in a three-trumpet stand-off on Take The A-Train. So Mike’s gig was hijacked slightly, but the audience were just loving it, and the band didn’t seem to be complaining either!

This was the last official gig of the festival, after which we headed over to The Thistle for the late night session, hosted by Ryan Quigley. It was packed, in a reasonably large function room too. Most of the Lincoln Center Orchestra were there, as were a good selection of players on the Scottish scene, and quite a few from down south and Ireland as well. Many different people got up to play during the course of the night. There were also impromptu jazz dancers, which was fascinating to watch (from dance group JazzCotech, I believe).

A fantastic night, and a perfect end to this year’s festival.

Categories: miscellaneous

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  1. Brief notes on some of the Glasgow Jazz Festival gigs Jennifer didn't get to:

    Stan Tracey Quartet. Best I've heard him for a while, and he's unearthed an excellent young alto player in Simon Allen. The set list was similar to last year's “Senior Moment” album: a little new stuff, but mainly reworkings of tunes from his back catalogue. The show finished with local horn players Tom MacNiven (trumpet) and Martin Kershaw (alto) added to the band for a couple of sextet versions of Monk tunes.

    The Arun Ghosh Sextet performed an original blend of Indian music and jazz. Ghosh's clarinet was the main instrument, with tenor sax and piano providing colouring behind him over a double bass, drums and tabla rhythm section.
    Definitely a band I'd like to hear again.

    The Burt-MacDonald Quintet with Keith Tippett. Burt-MacDonald simply don't sound like any other band around, playing an unlikely but highly effective mixture of catchy, almost middle-of-the-road melodies and uncompromising free improvisation. Tippett has worked with them enough in the past for this to sound like a gig by a sextet, not a quintet plus guest. Quite unique. I really enjoy their music but suspect it won't be to everyone's taste.

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