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The first ever Shetland Jazz Festival will take place over the weekend of 8 to 10 June 2012.

Great music from some of the very best jazz musicians in Scotland and beyond will take place in Lerwick as well as in venues as far afield as Busta and Tingwall, where the latest signing, the all star Bespoke Quartet will play, featuring Tom Macniven trumpet, Steve Hamilton piano, Calum Gourlay bass and Alyn Cosker drums.

The opening concert will be a gala affair at the Town Hall where, after jazz club honorary president Norman Willmore has declared the festival open, the ever popular Nova Scotia Jazz Band and the celebrated Brass Jaw will show the depth and breadth and quality of jazz and just how accessible it can be.

Saturday will begin with jazz films at the Garrison, including the great film about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and featuring a wide array of jazz talent such as Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk and the astounding Anita O’Day. There will also be rare chance to see a new documentary film about the legendary Scottish singer of world-class renown, Annie Ross. This was recently shown at Glasgow Film Festival.

Becc Sanderson

Saturday afternoon will see the Town Hall become a jazz circus when Shetland Community Ballet collaborate with local jazz musicians Norman Willmore and Max Tyler and a bunch of gymnasts and circus performers to create a truly magical event. Also on Saturday the Nova Scotia Jazz Band, the Becc Sanderson Trio plus Norman Goudie and Friends will perform at a wonderful jazz garden party in the grounds of the Busta Hotel.

The headline act on Saturday evening will be the mighty Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, twenty-two of the finest Scots players. They will feature a wide ranging repertoire from Duke Ellington to Tommy Smith, as well as performing a brand new work which takes Culloden Moor as an inspiration and features the legendary tenor sax player Bobby Wellins. This concert is the jewel in the crown of the festival. Also on the bill will be the excellent Becc Sanderson, whose vocal talents were to the fore on her last visit to Shetland and this will be her much-anticipated return.

There are a number of events that have been developing over the year. The festival will see the first performance in the Town Hall on Saturday afternoon at 4.30pm by the new Shetland Improvisers Orchestra which has grown out of a series of workshops run by George Burt and Raymond MacDonald of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. This will feature a piece of improvised music based on images from the Shetland Year where music and pictures become as one. The other project that culminates at the festival is one where a number of pianists have worked with local musicians to perform a series of gigs throughout the year. The latest of these, featuring pianist Steve Hamilton, will feature at the Tingwall Hall concert on Sunday lunchtime with The Bespoke Quartet.

Gilad Atzmon

And finally the closing event will be a performance by Gilad Atzmon and Frank Harrison of the Orient House Ensemble who will work with local music groups Aestaewast, Tropo Funk and Brian Nicholson and Friends to create a unified piece, the Olympic Suite, based on the music of five continents, for Olympic torch day. Just added to this line-up is Chris Stout and the Brazilian Theory. Chris says he is very much looking forward to working with Gilad Atzmon – it should be electric and you can only see it at this festival. This will be a fitting end to what should prove to be a memorable festival.

There really is something for everyone and tickets are now on sale through Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre, 01595 745 555 or at


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