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Flying in for a Festival

Some really great jazz musicians are flying in and out, from and to many parts of the world to take part in the 3rd Shetland Jazz Festival. Ace clarinet and saxophone player Gilad Atzmon is coming here straight from a prestigious gig in Athens, the all-star Brian Kellock Trio members are flying from Edinburgh, whilst both Atzmon and Kellock fly off after the Shetland concert to gigs in New York. All four musicians are taking some time in between to share their incredible jazz experience and expertise with music students at the Anderson High School next Monday.

For the festival gig, taking place on Sunday night, 1st June at Mareel, Atzmon and Kellock will be playing with veteran award-winning bass player Ronnie Rae and drummer Tom Bancroft, founder member of the legendary Trio Red. They will feature in a concert that celebrates the music and writings of the Jazz Age, the days of Great Gatsby and the Charleston flappers. Kellock promises, amongst others, many tunes by his favourite 1920s jazz maverick Fats Waller. And those who remember seeing him play Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue at Mareel concert last year will know to expect music of passion, clarity, vigour and with profound humour. Add Atzmon to that mix with all his eccentricities and the result should prove dynamite. The concert will also feature readings by London actor Irving Rappaport and our own Izzy Swanson. To top things off there will be a dance piece choreographed by Matthew Lawrence and the Shetland Community School of Ballet based on a 78rpm recording of Dr Jazz by Jelly Roll Morton as played on an old HMV wind-up horned gramophone. Surely a concert to savour. To buy tickets online at Shetland Box Office, click here. Tickets are £20/£18/£15. Doors 7pm for 7.30pm start.

The festival kicks off on Friday 30 May, with a Shetland Jazz Showcase at Mareel featuring five top home-grown groups playing the music they love in a venue made to show off the best in music. Full Swing, Mahogany, Alan McKay and Robert Bennet, Jane McLaren and Norman Willmore, plus Shetland Improvisers Orchestra who feature a special appearance by Shetland writer Laureen Johnson and a piece that incorporates The Jabberwocky read by Kevin Briggs. This promises to be a thoroughly entertaining evening and a true celebration of Shetlands own jazz-related talents. As it says on the tin: “Jazz and Literature – a Potent Mixture”. Click here to buy tickets online at Shetland Box Office, priced £15/13. Doors 7pm for 7.30pm start.

Saturday’s featured gig is a reading from a facsimile of the 102-foot roll on which Jack Kerouac typed his famous On The Road epic. Jeff Merrifield reads of the astounding adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty with bebop saxophone accompaniment from the much-talented Norman Willmore and Cuban-style drum breaks from the musicians of Aestaewast. Merrifield will also show rare film of Kerouac and Cassady as well as footage of Ken Kesey (who wrote One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest) travelling America on his Magic Bus and his own stories, pictures and film of when the new Magic Bus, Kesey and his Merry Pranksters came to Scotland in 1999. The event will take place at The Bop Shop, Harbour St, Lerwick at 7.30pm. Nearly sold out but still a few tickets left.

Norman Willmore
And finally, Sunday afternoon 1 June at 1pm a very laid-back Jazz Brunch at Tingwall Hall with Jane McLaren and Norman Willmore singing from The Great American Songbook, plus Alan McKay and Robert Bennet playing some high-flying music to be best enjoyed with a Sunday pint and some good food (reasonably included in the ticket price). Tickets are £8. Click here to purchase tickets for the Sunday Jazz Brunch online from Shetland Box Office.

Shetland Jazz Club and Shetland Arts have combined to put on what should be a hugely enjoyable third festival of the musical genre called jazz. It’s a wide spectrum this jazz music and it is hoped that Shetland audiences will support this plucky experiment in Jazz and Literature and a sustained tradition of jazz music in Shetland.

Jeff Merrifield Festival Director

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