Music review: Scottish Jazz and Beyond (Parts 1-3), Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Throwing a spotlight on just a few of the collaborations current in Scottish contemporary jazz, this opening night was a creatively sparky and often exciting showcase.

Scottish Jazz and Beyond (Parts 1-3), Queen's Hall (Venue 72)
Scottish Jazz and Beyond (Parts 1-3), Queen's Hall (Venue 72)

Scottish Jazz and Beyond (Parts 1-3), Queen's Hall, Edinburgh * * * *

Part of Creative Scotland’s Made in Scotland strand of the Fringe, it was an invigorating primer for the next few days’ intensive individual residencies at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall and the Pitt Street Pianodrome by the three groups featured.

Guitarist Graeme Stephen, who with drummer and MC Tom Bancroft figured in two of the groups, opened with The River, his collaboration with similarly genre-spanning Shetland fiddler Chris Stout, Bancroft and bassist Mario Caribe. Theirs was a vigorous set, electric guitar and violin playing in mercurial unison, sparking off each other or coursing energetically through pieces with such suitably riverine titles as Estuary, Delta and Flow.

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    As a sample of the formidable young energies emerging from Glasgow’s jazz crucible, the Fergus McCreadie Trio take some beating, with pianist McCreadie’s seamless absorption of distinctively Scottish elements into his compositions. They opened characteristically with spare piano notes ringing over David Bowden’s double bass pulse, introducing the rich lyricism of Ardbeg, while another composition unleashed torrential keyboard cascades as drummer Stephen Henderson built up the tension.

    Tom Bancroft’s In Common saw the drummer and guitarist Stephen joined by two Indian players, percussionist Gyan Singh and violinist Sharat Chandra Srivastava, as well as chants and vocalising from vocalists Gina Rae and Sophie Bancroft. Numbers such as Flower Child and Love and Stillness saw Bancroft laying down a muscular beat on drums and bodhran, complemented by the thwack of tabla, while guitar brought a raw edge to Srivastava’s microtonal violin explorations in this simmering cross-cultural fusion.

    Until 17 August