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Praise for jazz festival organisers

Tim Garland at Mareel on Saturday night - Photo: Dave Hammond

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THE ORGANISERS of this year’s Shetland jazz Festival have been praised by one of the UK’s most outstanding jazz musicians.

Speaking after an extraordinary concert in Mareel on Saturday night that won standing ovations from an enthusiastic audience, Tim Garland said festivals such as this could not be staged without the passion of its organisers.

The composer and saxophonist had brought his hugely successful Lighthouse trio to Shetland, as well as the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland (NYJOS), a group the Grammy winner regularly works with.

NYJOS are no strangers to Shetland, as it is the youngsters of this hugely talented big band who had the unexpected honour to play the very first concert in Mareel back in August last year.

Garland recalled how he got a phone call from Shetland’s own Jeff Merrifield who had seen his work with the NYJOS during a television broadcast of the Proms.

Garland had performed once or twice in Merrifield’s jazz club in London in the early nineties, and Shetland’s Dr Jazz was quick to renew an old friendship.

“It was back in 1993,” Garland mused,” but I always remembered him because he is such a memorable character.

“It is great to see him again after so many years and in a completely different part of the country, doing his thing.”

A deal was quickly struck, and Shetland Jazz festival had a headline act that would be the envy of many jazz festivals up and down the country.

Introduced as one of the best jazz trios in the world, Garland on sax, Gwilym Simcock on piano and Asaf Sirkis on drums and percussion needed no time at all to prove why they attract rave reviews from around the globe.

Their groove-based tunes had an unsurpassed clarity and precision, while giving plenty of room for every individual artist’s virtuosity to shine. Intoxicating!

Sirkis’ work on the UFO-shaped Hang drum, which he managed to integrate into his custom built drum kit, was undoubtedly one of the highlights.

Garland, who regularly works with legend Chick Corea, said the Shetland festival showed all signs of becoming a unique event.

“It is a cool thing coming to Shetland. People think ‘Where is that again?’

“I know the folk scene is strong up here, but the jazz festival has every chance to thrive. I really wish Jeff and the crew all the best,” he said.

The final two concerts of the second Shetland Jazz Festival were held on Sunday at the Tingwall hall and Lerwick Town Hall.

Planning next year’s event, again likely to be held in February, is already under way.

Please also read Davie Gardner’s review of Friday night’s concert: Jazz Fest: a terrific weekend of music

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