[Dixielandjazz] Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival--Ken Mathieson writes

Norman Vickers nvickers1 at cox.net
Wed Aug 14 18:45:02 PDT 2013

To:  Musicians and Jazzfans list; DJML

From: Ken Mathieson via Norman Vickers


Glasgow, Scotland resident and drummer/arranger Ken Mathieson sends a review
of recent Edinburgh JazzFest.

At my request he has given us this report and invites us to the 2014
Jazzfest there.  I've appended dates and website below.


As reported  previously, Ken has performed with and arranged for Fat Sam's
Jazz Band of Edinburgh for about 14 years and, as he writes below, performs
with his own group now.  His work as an accountant previously  has taken him
to Brazil where he participated in the music there, as well.


Ken Mathieson writes:



From: Ken Mathieson [mailto:ken at kenmath.free-online.co.uk] 
Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 6:28 PM
To: Norman Vickers
Subject: Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival


The 35th annual Edinburgh Jazz Festival & Blues Festival took place in the
last week of July with concerts covering just about every aspect of jazz and
the blues. It wasn't always like that: in its early years, most of the gigs
were pretty informal and the musical fare was predominantly traditional jazz
of all styles and mainstream. The festival's founder was banjoist and
bandleader Mike Hart, a name which will ring bells with musicians and jazz
fans who attended the Sacto Jubilee in the 1970s and 80s and the San Diego
Jazz Festival more recently. Mike modelled the concept on Sacto, with
predominantly semi-pro bands from around the world working a circuit of pub
gigs. In time, big names started to be booked and the gigs started to become
concerts. In the 1980s and 1990s major players like Sweets Edison, Buddy
Tate, Al Grey, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber, Teddy Wilson, Al Cohn, Milt Hinton,
Jake Hanna and others too numerous to mention became festival regulars and a
whole weekend of blues concerts was added.


As the demographics of the customers changed, so too did the festival's
musical policy. Producer/Director Roger Spence was recruited to programme
the more contemporary content, while Mike Hart remained responsible for the
trad/mainstream element. Over time, Mike has taken more of a back seat, but
still played this year in a concert with a specially-assembled Dixieland
band of local players. This year's programme covered an amazing range of
musical idioms: New Orleans Brass Bands, Ragtime, Dixieland, Gipsy Swing,
Cajun, Blues of all genres, Jump-Jive, Big Band, Bop, Hard Bop, Post-bop,
Hip-hop, Contemporary Fusion styles, Scandinavian cool, Brazilian Choros,
Flamenco-jazz and so on. Among the headline concerts were the Darius Brubeck
Quartet, Ellington's Sacred Music (complete with big band, tap dancer,
gospel choir etc), a British trad extravaganza with the Three Bs (Barber,
Bilk and Ball and their bands - the Ball band is led by son Keith since
Kenny's recent death), Eric Burdon & the Animals, Fat Sam's Band, which is
still a big draw in its hometown.


This year I was involved in concerts by the Batchelors of Jazz, a local
Dixieland band of mainly pro and ex-pro players, the Roy Percy Sextet, my
own Classic Jazz Orchestra  with New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher,
and accompanying New York based singer/pianist Champian Fulton. She was a
delight to work with: a fine singer and an excellent pianist with a heavy
Errol Garner influence. Watch out for her: she's got genuine ability. Roy
Percy is an Edinburgh-based string bass player who is in demand all over
Europe. He's at home in a variety of styles, but his forte is slap-bass
playing. His sextet comprised Evan Christopher on clarinet, London-based
Enrico Tomasso on trumpet and vocals (he's also Acker Bilk's trumpeter as
well as a busy free-lancer), Edinburgh-based alto sax player Martin Kershaw
(an incredibly fluent and musical player with a gorgeous tone), the
wonderfully talented Italian pianist Paolo Alderighi, Roy was on bass and I
was on drums. Enrico brought along a pile of arrangements of material
recorded by the John Kirby Sextet which were a tough read (tempos can be
quite challenging, dynamics are crucial, melody leads are constantly
changing) but they're a delight to play, epecially when we get them right!


For those of you unfamiliar with my Classic Jazz Orchestra (CJO), it's an
octet (tpt, tbn, 3 reeds, pno, bs, ds) consisting mainly of pro and ex-pro
players and its policy is to re-interpret (not replicate) the first 80 or so
years of jazz styles, so we cover pretty well everything from Jelly Roll
Morton to Charles Mingus. Indeed our concert programme, with good pal Evan
Christopher as our guest, did exactly that, although its twin themes were
the New Orleans Clarinet Tradition and some of Jelly's compositions from the
last year of his life when he was writing for an abortive big band project.
CJO has 2 outstanding clarinetists in its line-up (Dick Lee and Martin
Foster) and I had written a few pieces featuring Evan, Dick and Martin as a
clarinet trio. It's a measure of their musical taste that they didn't turn
these pieces into a "chopsfest" but played outstanding music while jousting
with each other in a good-natured way. The N.O. Clarinet Tradition pieces
paid homage to Tio, Bechet, Bigard, Noone, Simeon, Fazola and Ed Hall, while
the Morton rarities included Stop and Go, Ganjam, Jazz Jubilee, Superior Rag
as well as better-known pieces like Black Bottom Stomp and Grandpa's Spells
(although it's worth knowing that we play all of that stuff in a variety of
styles with occasional cross references to Jelly's recordings).


For readers wondering about a visit to the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in 2014,
don't hesitate: it's a beautiful city steeped in history, has great places
to eat and the jazz festival is a well-produced event with world-class
performers. It's also a friendly city, so, if you do turn up next year,
please come up and say hello.



Here's info from the website:

Our dates for 2014 are 18th to 27th July - we hope to see you there.  See
website  <http://www.edinburghjazzfestival.com>



Norman writes:  it's interesting to note that the Edinburgh Jazz Festival
has enlarged their styles of music to accommodate  changing tastes of its
patrons.  My guess is that there was similar reaction and criticism from the
"old heads" at Edinburgh  as we saw and heard on DJML as relates to the
change in emphasis and minor name change  from  some devotees of the
Sacramento Jazz Festival, renamed Sacramento Music Festival.




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