I don’t think anything changed drastically as far as jazz in Glasgow went in 2009. There are still lots of good musicians coming through, there’s still a lack of places for them to play, and audience numbers continue to be mystifyingly hit-and-miss. There seems to be more activity by big bands than there was in the past, but with the exception of Tom Bancroft’s Orchestro Interrupto, none of them are playing original music.
Best albums of 2009
I’ve already published a list of my favourite jazz albums from 2009.
I was slightly concerned when Todd Gordon’s Jazz International took over promoting gigs at the City Halls from Assembly Direct in case the programming became too singer-oriented and middle-of-the-road, but my fears turned out to be unfounded. If I have noticed one change, it’s that there seem to be fewer bands from mainland Europe playing here and more from London. But I don’t know if that’s a deliberate policy, or simply down to who’s been available when and for how much. I saw lots of good stuff (many but not all of which I’ve reviewed) and no real disappointments. Three gigs really stood out, though:
- Julian Siegel, Greg Cohen and Joey Barron (Recital Rooms, January-ish)
- Arild Andersen, Paolo Vinaccia and Tommy Smith (Tron, Glasgow Jazz Festival)
- Empirical (Recital Room, November)
Albums by Scottish musicians
There have been quite a few recordings by local players which I haven’t heard yet. Partly this was just down to me not having enough time or money to buy everything which interests me; partly it was an availability problem. Virtually everything now comes out on artists’ own labels, which means that they don’t always get well promoted, and they tend only to be available online or at gigs. Perhaps what the Scottish scene lacks is a body which publicises Scottish jazz on disc and makes it available via an online shop. I’ve not heard the latest recordings by, for instance, Kevin MacKenzie, Paul Towndrow, or the SNJO. Of those I have heard, I’ve been particularly impressed by the Tom Bancroft Orchestro Interrupto album, Alyn Cosker’s debut, and the album from Stu Brown’s Raymond Scott Project (okay, it’s not really jazz, but it’s great fun).
Bands / Musicians of the Year
Brass Jaw. Their recent UK tour got very good reviews, to the extent that the writer of the Birmingham Jazz blog reckoned their performance there was one of the Gigs of the Year. Their new album, Deal With It is officially released this month (which is why I didn’t mention it above), and is super.
Alyn Cosker. Seems to be everywhere, and is beginning to get noticed outside Scotland.
Paul Towndrow. Has made the breakthrough from being a highly competent Berklee bopper to a player with a style of his own.
Ryan Quigley. Like Paul Towndrow, just seems to have stepped up a level.
Paul Booth and Michael Janisch. Not Scottish, but have started playing here regularly enough to be granted honorary citizenship.
Near Miss of the Year
Makoto Ozone’s big band, No Name Horses. Their Edinburgh Jazz Festival concert just missed being on my gigs of the year list, and their latest CD, Jungle, just missed being on my albums of the list year.