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Shetland Jazz fans are in for a treat next weekend (13 to 16 Nov) when the Harris Playfair Trio and Kirkwall Grammar School Big Band make the trip north for the “Jazz Weekender” event comprising school performances, youth music workshops and a special Saturday evening concert at Lerwick Town Hall. The concert will also feature young local jazz bands Norman And The Folding Deckchairs and Shetland Youth Jazz.

Jazz Weekender
Jazz Weekender

The weekend starts on Friday 13th November with the Kirkwall Grammar School Big Band performing to pupils at Bells Brae and Sound primary schools, and Harris Playfair hosting master-classes at Sandwick Junior High and Anderson High School.

In Islesburgh Centre on Saturday 14th young local jazz musicians will join the Kirkwall Grammar School Big Band for an afternoon workshop with the Harris Playfair Trio and local jazz musicians.

On Saturday evening, the Town Hall will host the special concert where the young jazz musicians from Orkney and Shetland will perform with the Harris Playfair Trio and special local guests.

The weekend will be rounded-off on Monday 16th with a final performance by the Kirkwall Grammar School Big Band at the Dunrossness Primary School before they head back to Orkney.

Harris Playfair
Harris Playfair

The Harris Playfair Trio comprises Harris on piano, accompanied by double bassist Brodie Jarvie, a student on the new Jazz course at the RSAMD in Glasgow and drummer Ian Barclay who Harris plays with in the Kilter Ceilidh Band. Kilter has just been nominated for a Scottish Trad Music Award in the Scottish Dance Band category.

Harris, who was born in Lerwick and is now based in the Scottish Borders, is a well respected performer, composer and instructor who works at a range of establishments including Newcastle University where he lectures on the Traditional Music course.

He is known to many in Shetland through his jazz and classical influenced arrangements of traditional Shetland music and his work with Ceol Mor, the traditional youth “supergroup” who have boasted Shetland musicians such as Ross Couper and Victoria Laurenson among their ranks.

The Kirkwall Grammar School Big Band features young brass and woodwind players, with 2 sixth year trainee leaders and teachers, Alasdair Harvey (director), Elaine Geddes (music teacher) and Brian Jones (brass tutor). The band formed 18 months ago, from the Orkney Swing Band, and have gone from strength to strength performing Big Band/Swing classics and Jazz standards including pieces by Dizzy Gillespie, George Gershwin, Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller.


The band have played extensively at events in Orkney, including schools instrumental concerts, Orkney aggregates Valentine Ball, rotary Club Charity Dinner and joint concerts with Kirkwall Town Band, as well as many private functions.

The Jazz Weekender provides an opportunity for young jazz musicians from Orkney and Shetland to get together, learn new skills and have some fun. Jazz is brilliant artform through which young players can express themselves, improvise freely and develop their musicianship in a variety of ways. The Saturday evening concert will give Shetland audiences a chance to hear some of our finest young musicians perform alongside performers as accomplished as the Harris Playfair Trio.

Tickets for the Saturday evening concert are priced £10 and £8 for concessions and are available from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre. Tickets can be purchased by credit card over the phone by calling 01595 745 555.

The Saturday afternoon workshop is aimed at younger players but open to all. Free places can be booked by calling Shetland Arts on 01595 743 843.

This project was part funded by the Scottish Arts Council Jazz Development Fund.

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