Fionna Duncan & Brian Kellock

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Charlie Chan Says…

With eleven songs (some new, some “roasters”)
Duncan/Kellock tears of joy not woe stirs

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In advance of his eleven gigs (and counting) at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, pianist Brian Kellock gave an interview with Rob Adams, the jazz and folk critic from The Herald, in which he said two things which were in abundance in his opening gig with the first lady of Scottish jazz and former vocalist with The Clyde Valley Stompers Fionna Duncan: “I love responding in the moment to a lyric, especially when the phrasing being sung isn’t exactly as it was written” and “Audiences react to spontaneity – if it’s working – because I think they feel part of what’s happening onstage”. Continue reading

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Unleashed: Carroll, Colman and Bancroft

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Delightful harmonies by jazz trio
Life-affirming as ‘O Sole Mio

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A lyric in Dan Hicks’ song I Scare Myself, sung in the second half of Liane Carroll, Sophie Bancroft and Sara Colman’s intimate gig in the bar of the Traverse Theatre, perfectly encapsulates the chemistry between the performers and the effect they had on their audience: “But it’s so so very different when we’re together / And I’m so so much calmer; I feel better”. The love in the room was tangible, the talent (singing and songwriting, musicianship and chest slapping!) top drawer and the sense of fun and playfulness infectious. But behind it all lay two qualities which elevate the great from the good: fearlessness and honesty. Hence the title Unleashed! Continue reading

Joe Stilgoe: Songs On Film

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Bequiffed balladeer pulls out all the tricks
And like his hairstyle celebrates the flicks

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Joe Stilgoe – a sharp-suited and even sharper-witted jazz musician “of sorts” (his self-deprecating words, not mine) – wrote the title track to my favourite singer Liane Carroll’s recent album Seaside which was named Best New CD at last year’s British Jazz Awards. It is a beautiful love song tinged with nostalgia about seizing the moment before it’s too late which contains the lyric “come kiss me quickly, we might not have long before all this is washed away”. Change the words “kiss me” to “see him” and you have my verdict on Stilgoe’s excellent gig-cum-show at Assembly Checkpoint in Edinburgh which runs until the 27th of August. Continue reading

Mads Mathias

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Pianist Kellock and his jazz comrades
Compliment singer/saxophonist Mads

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With his Paolo Nutini good looks, Harry Connick Jr smooth vocals and Cole Porter knack of writing deceptively simple yet tightly structured tunes which sound as though they’ve been lifted straight out of The Great American Songbook, it’s easy to see why singer-saxophonist Mads Mathias won the Danish Music Award for Best New Jazz Artist Of The Year in 2015. Continue reading

Rose Room

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Gyspy swing quartet kick off Falkirk Live!
With a barnstorming gig five out of five

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As the CEO of Tesco said to his disgruntled counterpart at Unilever earlier in the week: I don’t do labels. The terms “gypsy”, “swing” and “jazz” have been used many a time and oft to describe the Glasgow-based quartet which opened the three-day Falkirk Live! music festival at The Faw Kirk aka The Trinity Church in the heart of the town. But as lead guitarist Tom “flight of the bumble bee” Watson said of Chinatown, My Chinatown by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Jean Schwartz and William Jerome, the year in which it was written is up for debate, but “all that matters is that it was written”. Continue reading

Ali Affleck and The Copper Cats

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Alison Affleck and The Copper Cats
Raised the roof with Louis, Billie and Fats

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After Rose Room’s barnstorming performance at The Faw Kirk on the opening night of the inaugural three-day Falkirk Live! music festival by Jazz Scotland and Falkirk Cultural Trust, Dundonian exponent of vintage jazz with a well-travelled drawl Ali Affleck and her quintet of distinguished musicians The Copper Cats featuring the terrific trumpet player Colin Steele raised the roof of Behind The Wall and then some with a blistering gig which would have prompted Andy Scott’s iconic Kelpies to unhinge their steel-fixed heads from their towering necks, shake their impressive manes and stomp their thunderous if unseen hooves to a beat which suggested that the spirit of Alberta Hunter (one of Affleck’s all-time favourite singers and greatest influences) is alive and well and still earning royalties from beyond the grave on the track made famous by the late, great Bessie Smith: Downhearted Blues. Continue reading

Aoife Doyle Band

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Jazz quartet from across the Irish Sea
Make pretty blooms from clouds of misery

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I first discovered the Aoife Doyle Band in the summer of 2015 while working for a few days in Dublin. Always one to stray from the beaten path, I product-placement searched “theatre” and “music” listings in the surrounding area and stumbled upon a tour of their first album This Time the Dream’s on Me at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum. Continue reading