Great year for music at the Edinburgh Fringe
A comprehensive breakdown is impossible, but here are a few recommendations to be getting on with, not forgetting that the International Festival makes a solitary folk foray with the intriguing combination of early music specialist Jordi Savall on viola de gamba and harpist Andrew Lawrence King with renowned US-based Irish fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill in Celtic Dialogues at the Usher Hall on 9 August.
As ever, the Acoustic Music Centre @St Bride’s hosts a wealth of Scots and visiting traditional and contemporary folk and other acoustic musicians, many of them for only one or two-night stands. Usual suspects include such seasoned names as Archie Fisher, Dick Gaughan and Borders bluesman Mike Whellans, as well as younger-generation performers such as the bands Barluath and Dallahan. Also at the Centre are multi-instrumentalist Mike Vass with his fine audio-visual show In the Wake of Neil Gunn, the extraordinary piano-percussive guitarist Preston Reed and the Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth with her Nordic Raga trio.
Once again punters will cram into the cosily intimate basement of the Royal Oak folk pub for its daily programme, including a three week run by Edinburgh singer-songwriter Simon Kempston and nightly attractions including fiddler Stewart Hardy, Glasgow singer Mick West and veteran singer-banjoist Alastair McDonald.
In more august precincts, the Canongate Kirk presents the Whistlebinkies, Chinese zither virtuoso Dong Yi and Scots fiddler Alastair Savage (who also appears at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre), while St Andrew’s and St George’s presents its harp showcase with the Clarsach Society, as well as the South London Jazz Orchestra and a celebration of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, with the McKenzie Sawyers duo.
ArtSpace @St Marks includes four nights by the inimitable flautist and singer Cathal McConnell and friends, as well as a piping showcase from the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society. Assembly George Square Studios welcomes back acoustic guitar virtuoso Antonio Forcione, while Barb Jungr, acclaimed Dylan and Simone interpreter, turns her attention to the Beatles with pianist and arranger John McDaniel in their show Come Together at the Assembly Rooms George Street.
The Queen’s Hall features a Brel programme from chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan and performances from singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in their Alba collaboration with Eddi Reader.
The greatest concentration of Fringe Jazz is, of course, at the Jazz Bar, which sees the irrepressible pianist Brian Kellock uniting for several nights with old colleagues, bassist Kenny Ellis and, on leave from New Zealand, drummer John Rae (Kellock also joins clarinettist Dick Lee for their Spirit of Jazz show at Valvona & Crolla). Kellock and Rae also join trumpeter Colin Steele for a Glen Miller celebration, while other guests include prog-jazzers NeWt and New York-based Scots saxophonist Ben Bryden with his Velvet Donkey tribute to the eccentric genius of Ivor Cutler.
Other Jazz Bar performers include the celebrated singer-guitarist Nick Harper, US soul-jazz singer Coco Rouzier and fiddler-singer Mairi Campbell.
The Outhouse once again hosts New Orleans cultural ambassadeur extraordinaire Lillian Boutté, as well as Caribbean saxophonist Arturo Tappin and Scots reedsman John Burgess’s Ugly Bug Ragtime Three, specialising in classic 1920s and 30s jazz, while trad jazz vocalist Ali Affleck hosts Speakeasy sessions both there and at the Jazz Bar.
Among numerous shows celebrating the centenary of Ol’ Blue-Eyes is American songbook champion Todd Gordon’s show Sinatra: 100 Years, at the Assembly Rooms, and at C Venue, Nicholas Abrams and Richard Willamson celebrate The Rat Pack Live, complete with big band, while the high-energy Movin’ Melvin Brown does his Me, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Junior show at Assembly Checkpoint and his Tap Dancing Preacher at St Columba’s by the Castle.
At the creatively simmering Summerhall, eclectic classical guitarist Simon Thacker presents his Svara-Kanti trio with Bengali singer Raju das Baul and tabla master Sarvar Sabri. Also at Summerhall, those veteran cosmic jazzers, the Sun Ra Arkestra, play for one night only in the Dissection Room. As a potential album title, Live at the Dissection Room sounds pretty irresistible.