Arts / Young jazz musicians reach high level with debut album

High Level Hot Club will launch their first CD at Mareel this afternoon

From left to right: Artur Vavilov, Lulu Johnson, Daisy Anderson, Tabitha Johnson.

“AT THE end of the day, we are four friends who love making music together,” says High Level Hot Club guitarist Daisy Anderson – and you can tell, going by how fun their tunes are.

Today (Saturday) marks a significant milestone in the already decorated existence of the young group, with the quartet set to launch their first album at Mareel.

Self-described as “gypsy jazz”, the quartet’s members are aged between 16 and 19 – but their self-assured sound belies their years.

Daisy, from Scalloway, said the album is a “collection of the old iazz standards that we as a band love”.

They include tracks like My Baby Just Cares For Me, Summertime and Dream A Little Dream of Me.

There is even space for a cover of Glasgow jazz dynamos Rose Room, who have been a big inspiration for the ‘Hot Club and have shared a stage with the youngsters in the past.


Sixteen year old Daisy is joined in the band by vocalist and lead guitarist Lulu Johnson (17), rhythm guitarist Artur Vavilov (16) and double bass player Tabitha Johnson (19), all of whom are from Lerwick.

Their origins, though, stem back to 2017. They were brought together by local guitar veteran Brian Nicholson, formerly of High Level Music, who showed them gypsy jazz – and in particular Django Reinhardt.

Daisy said the group “fell in love” with the music. “We all got lessons at High Level Music, hence the name High Level Hot Club,” she says.

“From there we started getting more gigs while we learned more about jazz.”

Brian’s son Arthur Nicholson later took on tutoring the group, and he helped to arrange the album’s tracks into the High Level Hot Club style, recording the songs too.

Whilst the music is acoustic guitar based, the vocal talent on show has to be among one of the most impressive in the isles.

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The quartet quickly established themselves in the local music scene, which Daisy says has “provided us with so many amazing opportunities”.

“We have done so many different types of gigs, everything from Sunday teas at halls to the Shetland Folk Festival and Fiery Sessions,” she adds.

“Thanks to Ragged Wood Promotions we have also supported Rose Room twice which was two of the most exciting gigs we have ever played.

“The variety of gigs we have been offered have really helped us develop as musicians and I think every gig has taught us something.”

She said the group also benefitted hugely by the young musician showcases put on at former venue the String, which have continued at Mareel thanks to Lisa Johnson.

They are due to perform at the next showcase on Sunday (27 November), before playing at the Quarff Hall on 3 December and the Peerie Xmas Spree at Mareel the following night.


They also have a slot at another Mareel showcase on 28 December, which will feature more than 30 fellow young musicians.

“Going forward, we hope to keep developing our repertoire and adapting more of our favourite tunes,” Daisy says.

“We have lots of exciting gigs already in the works for next year.

“At the end of the day we are four friends who love making music together, so any opportunity to play is exciting for us.

“We are looking forward to more collaborations and concerts, we are so excited for what is to come.”

Many have watched on as High Level Hot Hot Club have blossomed over the years – one being Neil Riddell of local music promoter Ragged Wood, who has hosted the group at gigs.

He said it has been a “privilege and a total pleasure” to watch the band grew through regular live performances in 2019 and 2020, “and it’s been great to see them picking up where they left off before Covid”.

“They’re enormously talented musicians, both individually and collectively,” Riddell said, “and a lovely bunch of folk. A total credit to the Shetland community.”

The High Level Hot Club album launch event will take place at Mareel in Lerwick today (Saturday) between 2pm and 3pm in the cafe bar.

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