Music review: Nu-Age Sounds, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Based on this concert designed to showcase Scotland’s next generation of jazz talent, the future is looking very bright indeed, writes David Pollock

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra-led touring showcase Nu-Age Sounds was a great advertisement for the state of Scotland’s young jazz scene, whose key players it introduced us to, and for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s jazz courses, from which six of the featured players here graduated. At the heart of it all was saxophonist Tommy Smith, leader of the SNJO and professor at the RCS, and the one veteran featured amid eight individual segments from key players in the scene’s revival.

Among the stars of that revival were BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022 Ewan Hastie, performing his own compositions for double bass On Reflection and Down South. His playing was mellow but stimulating, for a lengthy sonic exploration backed by the SNJO; around a dozen players arranged in a semi-circle, with drummer Alan Cusker and pianist Peter Johnstone lending especially important contributions throughout.

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Mercury Prize nominee Fergus McCreadie followed Hastie. Looking every inch the young jazz prodigy, the pianist’s As the Mist Clears was an odyssey, his playing becoming faster and faster as the music’s patterns became more eclectically elaborate, with crashing drums, deep guitar chords and rising horn notes pulling the piece to a crescendo.

Smith’s own sax blazed over a suite of his own work, including the classic Karma, before a second half comprising artists not yet as garlanded, but likely to be in future: tenor saxophonist Helena Kay, a Fifer; “total badass of the Scottish music scene” Anoushka Nanguy, aka Noushy, whose breezy trombone playing was rich in emotional twists; saxophonist Matt Carmichael; and enviably talented multi-instrumentalist Liam Shortall, aka corto.alto, who alternated between trombone and guitar on his own Bad With Names.

A collective finale packed all of the above onstage, topped off with the rich jazz vocal of Kitti, who opened the show, for a real crescendo to a special evening.