A SCOTTISH university is planning a diploma in jazz studies following an explosion of interest in the art form north of the Border which has seen audiences grow by more than 400% in the past eight years.
Napier University will launch the course next September, aimed at young musicians, after its annual summer school was oversubscribed by more than 50%.
As well as musical skills such as improvisation, arranging, composition and instrumental studies, there will also be a business element to the course which will teach students how to market themselves and put on a gig.
Haftor Medboe, at Napier University, said demand is such he may even bring the date forward to January.
Medboe said: "Jazz education does seem to be the growth industry that is for sure. Three or four years ago when we started the summer school it was predominantly adults, by that I mean professionals in other fields including doctors, lawyers and dentists and that kind of clientele. Now I would say two-thirds are under 18. That is a big shift.
"We are now getting to the point where we are turning away twice as many people than we can take in the summer school. So we have decided to launch a full-time course next year."
News of the course coincides with the emergence of a clutch of internationally recognised young and not-so-young Scottish jazz musicians including Tommy Smith, Brian Kellock, Colin Steele and Laura MacDonald who are creating a distinctive "Scottish sound" that critics say will be the successor to the Scandinavian movement of the 1980s.
Fiona Alexander, director of specialist jazz promoters Assembly Direct, said: "This is something that has been bubbling away for a while. There is far more live activity around then ever before and Scottish musicians are winning accolades right, left and centre.
"What Scotland is doing is developing a very strong scene which has its own identity. A lot of people are fusing or mixing jazz with a Scottish idiom.
"Colin Steele is taking folk music and overlaying it with a Chet Baker feel but the result is a distinctive sound coming from, influenced and coloured by Scotland.
"There is very definitely a recognisable Scottish jazz influence now. When we were running Henry's Cellar Bar a year ago it was one of the most talked about clubs in New York by the musicians' fraternity because of our policy of putting on the new, bright and exciting talent. Some of America's most exciting young musicians were playing in Scotland more often then they were playing in the States."
This month Jools Holland will open a new venue in the capital and next year a jazz club named after Prince William will open at St Andrews' Old Course Hotel.
Venues such as The Lot, 88 Queen Street and the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen mean Scotland now has more than twice as many permanent jazz clubs as London. As well as live music venues, interest has been fuelled by a clutch of jazz festivals that has emerged in the past 10 years including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Nairn.
American jazz pianist David Berkman, who performs with his quintet across the world, said: "What surprised me most about the Scottish jazz scene was its depth. For a small country, the number of outstanding players is quite surprising.
"When American jazz musicians perform in Scotland, they are favourably impressed by the Scottish bands they hear and play with. I recently performed with my American quartet in Scotland and we had Tommy and Laura MacDonald as guests. Everyone knew about Tommy, but after Laura played the band was extremely impressed by this talented Scottish woman that they hadn't heard of."
Traditionally jazz evolved in the southern states of America. This then gravitated northwards to New York.
In the 1980s, Norway and Scandinavia became the creative centres with a sparse approach. Some critics argue that the creative centre has now moved to Scotland.
Trumpeter Colin Steele, who plays in his own quintet, said musically Scotland is doing every bit as much as Scandinavia. "Over the past few years a distinctive Scottish sound has developed. I would say this is a fusion of Scottish and Irish folk music and modern jazz. There are a lot of fantastic things happening in Scotland."