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As with many people the backdrop to Hogmanay is usually the Jools Holland Hootenannny on the telly. For several years now the smiling face in the front row of saxes has been that of Derek Nash – and this year was no exception. Choice solos in spots by luminary guests like Alison Moyet, Kylie Minogue and the woman who recorded the first ‘rip it up’ rock’n’roll record, Wanda Jackson, are a hallmark of this prodigious saxophone player. Not only does he feature permanently in Jools’ Big Band, but for several decades he has run one of the most outstanding award winning jazz ensembles, Sax Appeal – six of the best saxophonists in the country and a cracking rhythm section – an outfit that we must get to Shetland sometime – maybe when the Mareel is in full flow.

However, Derek Nash is coming to Shetland, at the beginning of February, in a superb coupling with the excellent David Newton on piano. Nash is at the top of his game and comes to our shores because a number of local musicians have requested it. A vibrant and charismatic performer, Derek Nash is equally at home in all manner of jazz ensembles. He has played alongside Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Jamie Cullum and Ruby Turner, to name but a few.

David Newton is equally respected within the jazz fraternity. Growing up in Renfrewshire, he had a musical upbringing with the piano sounds of Peterson, Tatum or Garner an ever-present feature in the Newton household. His recording career begun in 1985 with Buddy De Franco and Martin Taylor and his first solo album was released in 1988. In the nineties, Newton's reputation as an exquisite accompanist for a singer, spread rather rapidly and he was regularly working with Carol Kidd, Marion Montgomery, Tina May, Annie Ross, Claire Martin and of course Stacey Kent, with whom he spent the next ten years recording and travelling all over the world. His music is regularly a feature of many TV programmes here and in America. He has been voted best jazz pianist eight times in the British Jazz Awards and was made a Fellow of Leeds College of Music in 2003.

Shetland Jazz Club and Shetland Arts combine to bring this superb and much anticipated duo to perform in special concerts at Bigton Village Hall on Friday 4 February and Lerwick Town Hall the following evening. There is a unique opportunity for local musicians and jazz aficionados to attend a masterclass on the Saturday afternoon – again at the Town Hall.

Tickets for all these events from the Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Centre, 01595 745555.

Guest post by Shetland Jazz Club secretary Jeff Merrifield

These events are part funded by the Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland Jazz Development Fund.

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