Preview: Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. 19-28th July

Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra

Former Londoner now resident in Edinburgh, Patrick Hadfield previews his five most anticipated gigs of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival which runs from the 19-28th July…

With over 120 concerts spread over ten days at the end of July, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival – now in its thirty fifth year – goes from strength to strength. This year they’re branching out into several new venues, a full daytime programme in a former church, and taking the show on the road with gigs in nearby cities and towns. The festival covers every jazz genre with gigs for every possible taste – from trad and Dixie through mainstream to full improvisation and clubs sounds, a full programme of blues gigs, and lots of free events too!

With so much going on, here are five gigs I’m looking forward to…

–  Pianist Brian Kellock, recently heard on the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s well-received “The Spirit of Duke” CD, is bringing over Daniel Franck (bass) and Niclas Camapgnol (drums) from Denmark, where he regularly plays. Kellock often starts a theme before heading off on an imaginative tangent; whilst drawing on standards, Kellock plays inventive music across several jazz styles.

–  One of the things EJF does really well is putting together artists in novel combinations. Last year’s revelation was an amalgam of Scottish musicians Colin Steele and Dave Milligan and the Enzo Favata Quartet, hailing from Sardinia and Italy. What started as a one off event grew into a lasting relationship, with Steele and Milligan joining Favata for gigs in Italy, and this year they are back in Edinburgh as Stone Islands. Both sides of the equation are firmly rooted in their respected folk musics, and together they create something new.

–  Neil Cowley Trio were last in Scotland last September, when they played two gigs on Islay. Their concert on Saturday 27 July at 3 Bristo Place promises to be equally intimate. Their exciting mix of melodic riffs and dynamic rhythms managed to be both popular and emotional. Cowley’s very physical playing combined with Evan Jenkins’ powerful drumming and Rex Horan’s bass produces energetic and powerful music.

–  The highlight of the festival may well be a rare performance of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert. In the suitable setting off a former church, this gig features Stan Tracey, a superb interpreter of Ellington, together with an orchestra comprising the cream of Scottish jazz musicians and a range of international guests, with the voices of Scottish Chamber Orchestra Choir. Much of the music may be familiar, though the settings more formal than the Ellington originals on which they are based, the three Sacred Concerts mark the apotheosis of Ellington’s spiritual music, and the opportunity to here a live performance should not be missed.

–  Closing the festival is another musician known for bringing a spiritual dimension to his music, Pharoah Sanders. Playing with his quartet, and supported by Phil Bancroft’s new quartet. Sanders is now one of the grand old men of jazz, his career spanning five decades; his playing, still muscular, has mellowed since his days as a firebrand on the fringes of the free movement.

Brian Kellock Copenhagen Trio – 7pm, Friday 19 July at 3 Bristo Place

Stan Tracey & Ellington Sacred Concert – 8pm, Wednesday 24 July at the Queen’s Hall

Stone Islands – Enzo Favata, Dave Milligan, Colin Steele – 8pm, Thursday 25 July at the Queen’s Hall

Neil Cowley Trio – 9.30pm, Sautrday 27 July, at 3 Bristo Place

Pharoah Sanders Quartet, 8.30pm, Sunday 28 July at 3 Bristo Place


Categories: miscellaneous

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