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News / Jazz Fest to offer ‘something for everyone’

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra - Photo: Colin Robertson

TICKETS for the first ever Shetland Jazz Festival have gone on sale at the weekend.

The three day event in early June has been put together by a small group of volunteers who form the Shetland Jazz Club.

They have come up with a varied and hugely ambitious programme that will culminate in an Olympic Suite on the evening of 10 June, the same day the Olympic Torch is to visit Shetland for a few hours.

The festival features the Israeli-born British saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, who returns to Shetland after a highly acclaimed concert in the town hall in February 2009, and Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith, who played a concert in Lerwick last summer.

Other highlights are the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, the Nova Scotia Jazz Band, the Becc Sanderson Trio as well as Raymond MacDonald and George Burt of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, who will all be accompanied by a wealth of local talent.

The club’s secretary Jeff Merrifield said: “Shetland Jazz Club is here to promote jazz. People often say “we don’t like jazz”, yet they probably listen to as much jazz as any other sort of music – on TV, in films, in advertisements. John Coltrane even appeared in the background of Bargain Hunt the other day.

“With this first jazz festival we have tried to show jazz in all its wide diversity and live up to the old adage that here is ‘something for everyone’. We hope you enjoy the festival.

The festival is sponsored by Creative Scotland, Shetland Arts Trust, and Shetland Events and Festivals Development Fund.

Tickets are now on sale now from Shetland Box Office at or by phoning 01595 745555.

Here Mr Merrifield introduces the festival’s programme in his own distinctive style:

“Friday 8 June 4pm – Market Cross: A free Jazz Festival Taster featuring two of the acts from our festival, the Nova Scotia Jazz Band and Brass Jaw.
Friday 8 June 8pm – Lerwick Town Hall – Opening Gala Concert (smart casual and laid back): Norman Willmore and Max Tyler open the proceedings with their distinctive brand of youthful, energetic jazz. The Nova Scotia Jazz Band play their own brand of classic jazz from the mauve decade with some of the sweetest cornet playing you will hear anywhere – and the rest of the guys are very good as well.
Brass Jaw are quite unique and awesome. Trumpet, tenor, alto and baritone saxes with no rhythm section; deep at the heart of Brass Jaw’s philosophy is the idea that music should be as engaging, entertaining and humorous as it is virtuosic, cerebral and progressive. All in all a great opening concert. £10.00 (8.00 concs)
Saturday 9 June 11.30am – Garrison Theatre – Jazz Films: Jazz on a Summer’s Day – a documentary film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, filmed and directed by noted photographer Bert Stern, featuring performances by Jimmy Giuffre, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, Anita O’Day, Gerry Mulligan, Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, and others. A beautiful film of jazz played on an island with the surrounding sea. Sound familiar?
No One But Me – a documentary about one of the most famous singers to come out of Scotland – Annie Ross. Filmed over three years, the film focuses on her musical career, struggles with heroin addiction, and her relationships with her family and contemporaries, Billie Holiday and Lenny Bruce. Annie noted, “It’s very blunt, it’s very truthful, but one thing about the film – it’s honest.” £5.00 (3.50 concs)

Saturday 9 June 2pm – Busta Hotel – Jazz Summer Garden Party: Truly our own bit of Jazz on a Summer’s Day. More excellent classic jazz from the Nova Scotia Jazz Band and a set from the wonderful Becc Sanderson Trio. Based on her famous Passion Flower music, a form of new torch song, Becc sings a range of songs from Edith Piaf to Radiohead. This trio blew us away on their last visit to Shetland and they make a very welcome return. Supported by Norman Goudie and Friends, this will be a jazz day to remember. £9.00 (7.00 concs)
Saturday 9 June 1pm- Lerwick Town Hall – Community Jazz Circus: 1pm, 2pm and 3pm (3 x 25 minute sessions) Dance – Gymnastics – Clowns – Jazz – Shetland Community School of Ballet – Matthew Lawrence and John Morris Singing Saturdays with Andy Ross and the Shetland Gymnastic Association Circus Ringmaster: Kevin Briggs.  A superb jazz, dance, circus mix with music by Norman Willmore and Max Tyler – and all under the direction of Matthew Lawrence of Shetland Community Ballet.
Special funding from Shetland Development Fund for this event. £3.00 per session (2.00 concs) Young folk, children & parents please bring cushions if you can!
Saturday 9 June 4.30pm – Lerwick Town Hall – Shetland Improvisers Orchestra: Shetland Improvisers Orchestra perform The Shetland Year and other pieces, directed by Raymond MacDonald and George Burt of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Music developed over several workshops involving a range of local musicians and directed by two musicians with a decade of experience in such improvisation. Music inspired by images of Shetland and a range of other ideas will be spontaneously created and recorded for posterity (and later CD release). £8.00 (6.00 concs)
Saturday 9 June 7pm – Clickimin Centre – Main Headline Concert: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra directed by Tommy Smith with special guest: Bobby Wellins.
A superb concert featuring The Culloden Moor Suite written by and featuring the great Scottish saxophone legend Bobby Wellins. An eloquent lament for the fallen in battle, this rarely heard masterpiece has been beautifully rearranged for the SNJO and captures the sounds and essence of the battle. This much anticipated performance promises atmosphere, drama, spontaneous creativity and spiritually uplifting music.
The rest of the concert with feature music from jazz luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and Dizzy Gillespie to have you tapping your feet to the exciting sound.
Tunes will include April in Paris (Basie), Concerto for Cootie (Ellington), Salt Peanuts (Dizzy Gilliespie) and Apple Honey (Woody Herman).
Also featuring the Becc Sanderson Trio in another splendid set of new torch songs from Passion Flower, with Chris Grieve on trombone and Graeme Stephen on guitar. These are songs to make your toes curl and bristle those little hairs on the back of your neck. What a wonderful gig this will be. Table seating: £18.00 (16.00 concs), Row seating £15.00 (13.00 concs).
Late Night Jazz – Saturday 9 June 10.30-11.45pm – Clickimin Centre – The NeWt Shetland Project: NeWt will be performing a piece written over the previous five days on location in a remote Shetland hideaway, with projected imagery also gathered on location. NeWt will perform an entire program of brand new music inspired by the Shetland Islands. This World Premiere Performance with visuals will be live streamed worldwide.
This unique location jazz has special funding from Creative Scotland. £8.00 (6.00 concs) 
Sunday 10 June 12.30pm – Tingwall Hall – Jazz Collective Concert: Shetland Jazz Collective has grown out of a workshop series where local musicians have worked with top class pianists such as Steve Hamilton and Tom Gibbs. This lunchtime concert will feature the Shetland musicians under the direction of Steve Hamilton in a set worked out at a special workshop. Then the Bespoke Quartet (Tom MacNiven, trumpet; Steve Hamilton, piano; Calum Gourlay, bass; Alyn Cosker, drums) will take the stage to really make this Tingwall gig a very special one. £7.00 (5.00 concs)
Sunday 10 June 8pm – Garrison Theatre – The Olympic Suite: This is an extra special concert celebrating the music of the five continents involved in the Olympic Games on the day that the Olympic Torch comes to Shetland.
Just like the five Olympic Rings this concert will be divided into five interlinked parts under the overall direction of the great saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and his pianist Frank Harrison. Brian Nicholson & Friends will take care of the European section with its Celtic connections and folk traditions. Aestaewast will concentrate on the African connection and the sounds of that continent. Chris Stout and Brazilian Theory and the exciting young local band Tropo Funk will take care of the Americas, North and South. And as well as linking each section together Gilad Atzmon and Frank Harrison will take care of the Asian (Middle Eastern) and Oceania sections, featuring authentic music from the South Seas.
The whole thing will end with a world piece featuring all of the musicians in the concert and will be a fitting finale to a memorable day and our very first jazz festival. £10.00 (8.00 concs)”

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