Rob Adams writes:
10 Years of the RCS Course
Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith plays a hometown concert at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh this Thursday as the jazz course he runs at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow celebrates its tenth anniversary and an ambitious plan to encourage more Scottish jazz talent rolls out in Germany, Italy and Norway.
Smith, who was able to study at Berklee College of Music thanks to local fundraising, campaigned for many years to establish a further education level jazz course in Scotland.
He finally succeeded, establishing the jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2009, and since then he has watched graduates progress onto the national and international jazz scenes.
“Peter Johnstone, the pianist in my quartet who will be playing at the Queen’s Hall, is a great example of the quality Scotland can produce,” says Smith. “Pete’s a fantastic talent but there are others including pianist Fergus McCreadie, saxophonist Matt Carmichael and drummers Graham Costello and Stephen Henderson, who have all been marked out as talents to watch in magazines, and are creating successful careers.”
Three-Year Jazz Workshop Programme Announced
The RCS has now joined forces with Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and seats of learning in Parma, Hamburg, Nuremberg, and Oslo to offer Scottish musicians the opportunity to learn over there while young musicians from Europe will be invited to study in Scotland.
The Jazz Workshop, which is a three-year programme funded by the European Union’s Erasmus Plus initiative, will also offer opportunities to play at festivals in all the host cities.
Smith’s Queen’s Hall concert with the quartet he formed to his greatest inspiration, John Coltrane, leads off a weekend of Scottish jazz in Edinburgh under the name of “Gallus”, a Scots term for
swaggeringly bold or cheeky.
“It’s a mark of the standard of jazz musicians being produced here that a high-quality programme entirely comprised of Scottish players can be staged in Edinburgh,” says Smith. “It’s really exciting because there will be many more highly talented musicians to come.”
Gallus Festival line-up:
Thu 17 October
Tommy Smith Quartet: Embodying the Light with Alan Benzie Trio, Queen’s Hall 7:30pm
Fri 18 October
Georgia Cecile Quartet with Anoushka Nanguy Quartet, St Brides 8:00pm
Graham Costello’s STRATA, Jazz Bar 11:30pm
Sat 19 October
Ben MacDonald Quartet with Mark Hendry Fractus, St Brides 4:00pm
Edinburgh Jazz School Showcase, St Brides, 6:15pm
Luca Manning with Fergus McCreadie & Charlie Stewart, St Brides 7:30pm
Mezcla feat Rachel Lightbody with Aki Remally, Jazz Bar 11:30pm
Sun 20 October
Paul Towndrow Organ Trio with Matt Carmichael Quartet, St Brides 4:00pm
Colin Steele plays Miles Davis, St Brides 8:00pm