Features/Interviews (PP)

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival Digital Hub

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is offering music fans the chance to access part of its programme – even if they can’t get to Scotland’s capital city in person. Rob Adams reports:

A new digital hub will host twenty concerts, which are available to view online with a £10 pass, and while the festival runs from 15-24 July, pass holders will be able to watch concerts until 14 August. Plus, if they particularly enjoy them, they will be able to go back and watch any of the concerts as many times as they like from the comfort of their own homes.

The concerts, which comprise both live streamed events and digital exclusives, include performances by some of Scotland’s top musicians, including pianists Brian Kellock and Fergus McCreadie, new festival commissions, and international talent in styles ranging from big band to electric blues. There’s also an exclusive concert by San Francisco’s all-star SFJazz Collective, whose current line-up includes vocalist Gretchen Parlato and saxophonists Chris Potter and David Sánchez.

A live stream on Friday 15 July will let viewers worldwide experience the festival’s opening Gala Concert, which features singer, violinist and broadcaster Seonaid Aitken fronting a specially convened big band in a celebration of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald’s repertoire of timeless songs. Guests including Glasgow’s young singing talent Kitti, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s star saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and Italian trumpeter Daniele Raimondi will add to the occasion.

Konrad Wiszniewski
Konrad Wiszniewski. Photo credit: Derek Clark

Wiszniewski and Raimondi will also feature in a live stream on Tuesday 19, showcasing their conspicuous talents at the head of a quintet with pianist Alan Benzie, bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Doug Hough. Two more of Scotland’s top tenor saxophonists, Brian Molley (Monday 18) and John Burgess (Wednesday 20) will commemorate Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd’s Jazz Samba and Buddy Rich’s Big Swing Face respectively.   

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Special festival commissions present new music from pianist and BBC New Generation Artist Fergus McCreadie (Saturday 16) and saxophonist Martin Kershaw (Wednesday 20). Both musicians have chosen to write for octets, although they’re of quite different instrumentation, with Kershaw continuing the literary influence of his David Foster Wallace-inspired suite, Dreaming of Ourselves, by celebrating some of his favourite poets. 

Pianists Brian Kellock, Dave Milligan and Paolo Alderighi appear in different settings. Kellock joins Australian guitarist Dave Blenkhorn and bassist Roy Percy in a swinging session on Tuesday 21. Milligan teams up with saxophonist Norman Willmore to share their mutual enthusiasm for matching jazz with folk music influences on Friday 22. And Italian Alderighi’s trio favours the joyously buoyant style of Erroll Garner on Tuesday 19.

Brian Kellock
Brian Kellock. Photo credit: Louis deCarlo

Top UK quartet Dinosaur present their trumpet-led instrumental music on Sunday 17 and singers Ali Affleck (Monday 18) and Kitti (Thursday 21) respectively dig into the soul, blues and gospel styles of Nina Simone and showcase original songs that follow in the footsteps of Amy Winehouse and Alicia Keys.

America’s southern states provide the musical roots for Legends of the Blues (Saturday 23) and Brass Gumbo (Sunday 24). Edinburgh-based Jawbone Walk will guide audiences through the former, tracing the blues’ journey from rural Mississippi to its electric, urban developments in Chicago, and although theirs is a style very much in the New Orleans marching band tradition, Brass Gumbo will be looking towards another riverside city, Liverpool, as they play Beatles favourites.  

In addition to the SFJazz Collective’s musical expression of the turmoil and polarisation stirred up by the current socio-political situation, there are digital concerts featuring Scottish groups led by drummer Richard Glassby, saxophonist Matthew Kilner, guitarist Conor Smith, and trumpeter Colin Steele.

Glassby and Kilner are two of the most accomplished young musicians and composers on the Scottish scene with thoughtful approaches to creating powerful, imaginative music. A devotee of the Hot Club school of swinging jazz, Smith’s group will be adding a pedal steel guitar-driven slant to Tin Pan Alley standards, and Steele will be fronting a new sextet as he continues his successful marriage of jazz’s harmonic and rhythmical heritage with the Scottish tradition’s phrasing and melodic inflections.

“The introduction of the hub on our website to host these concerts is very much a continuation of what we’ve learned with online presentations in the last few years,” says the festival’s Marketing & Audience Development Manager, Paula Duncan. “It offers us a chance to reach new audiences and to continue to showcase jazz and blues in Scotland, the UK and across the world.”

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LINK: Festival website

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