The Islay Jazz Festival is on this weekend: in fact, it’s taking place as I write this, with the opening gig, the first of two by Swedish singer Viktoria Tolstoy, having started at 7.30.

As usual, there’s an interesting mix of artists playing at a range of venues across the island, with some of them working in unfamiliar combinations.

So what’s on?

Friday 16th

  • Viktoria Tolstoy, backed by an all-Swedish band featuring pianist Jakob Karlzon, who has a gig of his own later in the festival.
  • Blues guitarist and singer Otis Grand with the Sandy Tweedale Trio.
  • The first of two appearances by Brass Jaw, who’ll apparently have trombonist Chris Greive with them.
  • Tom Bancroft’s Trio Red. Bancroft’s new trio, featuring Tom Cawley on piano and Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertson.

Saturday 17th

  • Mario Caribé’s Boteco Trio. Caribé explores the music of his native Brazil. He’ll be playing guitar and cavaquinho (a Latin American instrument a bit like a four-stringed guitar) as well as his usual bass. Stuart Brown‘s on percussion and Brian Molley on reeds.
  • Second gigs of the festival by Viktoria Tolstoy and Brass Jaw.
  • A solo set by pianist Tom Cawley, supported by Kevin Mackenzie‘s new trio with Mario Caribé and Tom Bancroft.
  • The Brian Kellock Trio. One of the half-dozen top jazz pianists in the UK, in a small venue, for only £10. Kenny Ellis is on bass and Alyn Cosker on drums.
  • The Subie Coleman Band. Singer Coleman performs soul and jazz for dancing, with a band including Paul Harrison and Colin Steele.

Sunday 18th

  • A Konrad Wisznieski Quartet featuring Brian Kellock, which ought to be well worth hearing, with a short opening set from drummer Brian Palmer‘s trio.
  • Vocalist Subie Coleman‘s second appearance of the festival, in a duo with a guitarist who is still to be named; plus a Kevin Mackenzie/Colin Steele guitar and trumpet duo. Mackenzie and Steele have played in groups together before, right from their early days alongside Brian Kellock in the John Rae Collective, but this is their first duo performance.
  • Jakob Karlzon Trio.
  • Graeme Stephen/Fraser Fifield duo. Folk-tinged jazz from the guitar and reeds duo.
  • Mario Caribé’s Jazz Crusaders Timeline. A band put together to celebrate the music of the (Jazz) Crusaders from their early hard bop days through to their later funk period. John Burgess (saxophone), Chris Greive (trombone), Neil Warden (guitar), Paul Harrison (keyboards), Mario Caribé (bass) and Stuart Brown (drums).

You can find full details of the festival on the Islay Jazz Festival website. It’s sponsored by Lagavulin, one of several marvellous (if exceptionally peaty) malt whiskies made on the island. Indeed, several of the gigs are in distilleries. If you’re intending to sample them all, though, remember that the first gigs on Saturday and Sunday are at noon, so don’t overdo it!.

To get you in the mood, or show you what you’re missing, here’s short promo video featuring music from last year’s festival, plus plenty of shots of the sponsor’s product. Take it away, Mario!