Aidan O'Donnell, Alyn Cosker, Angelique Kidjo, Bill Wells, Bobby McFerrin, Brian Kellock, Danny Thompson, David Dunsmuir, David Milligan, Fraser Fifield, Jan Garbarek, Kevin MacKenzie, Koshka, National Jazz Trio of Scotland, Nigel Clark, Nigel Hitchcock, Nikaido Kazumi, Peatbog Faeries, Ryan Quigley, Shugo Tokumaru, Steve Kettley, Trilok Gurtu, Wolfstone
Whenever there’s a jazz festival on, it’s almost mandatory that purists (sometimes including myself) look at the list of performers then complain about the music’s precious bodily fluids being impurified by elements which “aren’t really jazz”. Something similar may be going on in the folk world right now, as this year’s Celtic Connections festival, which started on Thursday, features a considerable amount of jazz and world music, ie stuff which “isn’t really folk”.
Among the jazzier events, or at least those involving musicians with serious jazz cred, are:
- Bobby McFerrin. GRCH, Monday 18th. He’s also doing a special concert for schools the following morning. Scotsman interview with him.
- The Dave Milligan Trio, on a triple bill of musicians associated with the An Tobar Arts Centre on Mull. Strathclyde Suite, Tuesday 19th
- Angélique Kidjo. Beninoise singer. I don’t care if she’s strictly jazz or not, she’s great live. Only UK date of her current European tour. Old Fruitmarket, Friday 22nd. Herald interview with her.
- Wolfstone‘s current line-up includes Alyn Cosker and David Dunsmuir. ABC, Friday 22nd.
- Salsa Celtica with a horn section which includes Ryan Quigley, Steve Kettley and Fraser Fifield. GRCH, Sunday 24th
- Maeve Gilchrist and Aidan O’Donnell. City Halls Recital Room, Sunday 24th.
- Trilok Gurtu (with an appearance from Jan Garbarek). GRCH, Wednesday 27th
- Jan Garbarek. City Halls Grand Hall, Thursday 28th
- Or slightly earlier that evening, you can hear The National Jazz Trio of Scotland with Nikaido Kazumi and Shugo Tokumaru. Thursday 28th, Classic Grand. A Bill Wells project. Do I detect a joke at Tommy Smith’s expense in the band name?
- Koshka with Nigel Clark City Halls Grand Hall, Friday 29th.
- Friday 29th’s a good night for jazz guitarists, as you’ve also got Kevin MacKenzie playing in Finlay MacDonald’s Band. Strathclyde Suite, Friday 29th.
- Danny Thompson. Old Fruitmarket, Saturday 30th.
- Nuala Kennedy with “top jazz pianist” (as the brochure rightly puts it) Brian Kellock. Stratchlyde Suite, Saturday 30th.
- The Peatbog Faeries with Nigel Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s work with them earned him a nomination as Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2009 Scottish Traditional Music Awards. Old Fruitmarket, Sunday 31st.
Of course, there’s also a lot of interesting music at the festival which has absolutely nothing to do with jazz. Full details, including prices, starting times and online booking, at www.celticconnections.com.
I was one of those doubters who, when Celtic Connections started in the early 90s, thought January was a daft time to hold a festival. I’m delighted to have been proved wrong. What I’ve never quite been able to work out is why it’s taken off as a major event which draws in audiences from around the world in a way the Glasgow and Edinburgh jazz festivals never quite have. Is it to do with a lack of competition from similar events, or the way it’s marketed, or a difference in the audience for folk and jazz?