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Arts / Jazz and world music crew to return with concerts and workshops

SHETLAND’s jazz and world sounds group is due to return next year with a series of workshops and concerts.

Shetland JAWS will host seven workshops and seven gigs after an enforced three year layoff due to the financial downturn and the Covid lockdown.

They will feature trumpeters Henry Lowther and Chris Batchelor, tuba player Oren Marshall, saxophonist Julian Nicholas, guitarist Mo Nazam, the renowned multi-instrumentalist Sidiki Dembele and percussionists Bosco de Oliveira and Asaf Sirkis.

The first events will take place in January, with the full programme set to be released in due course.

Asaf Sirkis.

They are taking place thanks to funding from Creative Scotland, received through the National Lottery.

The first workshop and gig, in January, will feature Batchelor and Marshall, who have played together in a band called Pigfoot.

Batchelor is a trumpet player well versed in all aspects of jazz from New Orleans to Albert Ayler. 

Marshall, meanwhile, is described as a “highly innovative pioneering player of acoustic and electric tuba” who, crossing between classical – jazz – improvised – world music, has collaborated with the likes of Derek Bailey, Radiohead, the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Moondog, Charlie Haden, and the London Philharmonic.

Henry Lowther is dubbed the “elder statesman of British jazz”, having been performing since the late 1960s.

Amongst many others he has played with Manfred Mann, John Dankworth, Graham Collier, John Mayall, Mike Gibbs and Stan Tracey, while he played the trumpet solo for Elton John on Return to Paradise.

He later worked with Buzzcocks, Peter King, Gil Evans, Humphrey Lyttelton and Charlie Watts.

Julian Nicholas meanwhile is a distinguished jazz saxophonist and educator, who has worked with Loose Tubes, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, as well as bands under his own name.

Mo Nazam is described as a “guitarists’ guitarist”.

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He can play in all styles but his favourite has been with the world music group, Berakah, a multi-faith ensemble featuring musicians from Jewish, Christian and Muslim backgrounds.

Sidiki Dembele, from the Ivory Coast, is a powerful advocate of African music. He has toured as the lead solo percussionist with the circus company Afrika! Afrika!, as well as his Denifari company and the prestigious Ballet Nimba.

Asaf Sirkis has been up to Shetland several times before most notably with Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Project and with Gilad Atzmon.

He has played alongside Freddie Hubbard, Courtney Pine, Ronnie Scott, Linda McCartney and Andy Sheppard.

Finally, Bosco De Oliveira is a world-renowned Brazilian percussionist who was the founder of the London School of Samba in 1984.

Shetland JAWS’ Jeff Merrifield said the events will deliver a “range of music to entertain and educate at the same time”.

“All workshops will be open access and available to participants whatever their level of skill,” he said.

Merrifield also said there will be the creation of a new local improvised music ensemble.

ZIP (the Zetland Improvisers Project) will be set up under the direction of three major figures in the world of improvised music – Raymond MacDonald, George Burt and Maria Sappho from the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.

They will come to Shetland and train a core group of Shetland musicians in the art of running improvised music workshops.

This group will hopefully become a permanent feature of the Shetland musical landscape, offering workshops that will not only de-mystify the idea of improvised music being ‘difficult’, when in fact it can be “beautiful, exciting, enjoyable, enlightening and useful in therapeutic work with people who have particular physical and mental needs”.

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