Guest blog by Jeff Merrifield, Shetland Jazz Club
One of the big successes at the last Glasgow Jazz Festival was the performance of the Nova Scotia Jazz Band in the special showcase of Scottish bands. This is an exceptionally good band, primarily for the playing of cornet player Mike Daly, described as ‘the best kept secret in Scottish jazz'. I went to Glasgow, representing Shetland Jazz Club, and though my usual tastes are for a more modern form of jazz, Mike Daly just took my breath away. From the moment I heard him I was keen to book this excellent band for Shetland and now the jazz club have secured appearance on the weekend of 13-14 May.
Mike Daly has echoes of Alex Welsh and Red Nichols in his playing, but most of all the name Bix Beiderbecke springs to mind when you hear him play and this is not some limp comparison, Mike Daly really does play with that amount of genius. Of all the things I might have gone to see at the Glasgow festival, I went to see the Nova Scotia band twice.
The band is firmly in the tradition of the groups led by Eddie Condon, Muggsy Spanier, Red Nichols, Alex Welsh.and the said Bix Beiderbecke. They were described by the Glasgow Herald as presenting music ‘with direct, bluesy concision and presented with humour and creativity’. As well as the world class cornet of Mike Daly, the Nova Scotia Jazz Band features three other world class players.
Duncan Findlay has also got that jazz star quality. He is one of the most sought after session guitar and banjo players in Scotland, having recorded on thousands of radio and TV sessions and is on more than 500 jazz and traditional albums. Duncan has also performed with a virtual ‘who’s who’ of the finest jazz talent including Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Kai Winding, Annie Ross and Carol Kidd. His extraordinary facility on banjo and his effortless and fluid guitar playing are always the highlights of a Nova Scotia set.
Ken MacDonald began playing double bass in Edinburgh in the mid 1970′s with the Climax Jazz Band the globe trotting Scottish Society Syncopators. His elegant, forceful and above all, swinging bass has made him a favourite for visiting musicians and over the years he has played with saxophone legends James Moody, Buddy Tate and Benny Waters, and with trumpeters Doc Cheatham and Joe Newman. Ken is in addition to being a wonderful bassist a highly regarded luthier who keeps most of the double basses in central Scotland in excellent repair.
John Burgess is an illustrious and highly regarded player of clarinet and saxophones. He has played with a virtual who’s who of the country’s top players at jazz clubs and festivals all over Europe, north Africa and the Middle East. He has six CD’s under his own name and has appeared on over 65 albums as a sideman with a diverse array of artists, but is now back doing what he has always loved most, playing clarinet in the classic jazz style.
This sweet and hot quartet are a fresh take on the classic jazz style and a welcome addition to the long list of excellent groups from Edinburgh, Scotland which includes bands of the quality of Sandy Brown, Alex Welsh, The Climax Jazz Band, Old Bailey’s Jazz Advocates and the Archie Semple Jazz Band. Some tradition, eh? I cannot recommend these gigs enough.
You can see the Nova Scotia Jazz Band at Bigton Hall on Friday 13 May and at the Islesburgh Centre on Saturday 14 May. Tickets as usual from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick - 01595 745 555.