Ramshorn Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 27 Oct; The Lot, Edinburgh, Sat 28 Oct
Pianist Zoë Rahman was philosophical about being this year’s jazz representative in the Mercury Prize short list. Like all previous contenders from the jazz sector, her album Melting Pot didn’t scoop the prize, but she not only refused to moan about the decision, she even defended them against the regular charge of tokenism levied by jazz commentators.
‘The guys in the Mercury office are all into jazz,’ she said after the ceremony. ‘They are very supportive of it, so all the stuff you read in the press about there being a token jazz artist put in to make the prize look more intellectual isn’t true. They are genuinely into music across the board. The prize reflects what’s happening in the British music scene, so ten percent of the contenders are jazz albums.’
Fair point, but the real breakthrough will come when they pluck up the courage to name one of those jazz albums (or contemporary classical or folk) as the winner. Meanwhile, Rahman continues to build a big reputation for herself on the UK jazz scene, and her trio appearances at Big Big World in Glasgow and in Edinburgh should confirm that perception.
Her musical interests are broad ranging and eclectic, taking in a classical training along the way. The ability to work in a mosaic of diverse sources and then shape it into an original and personal musical voice is one of the things that attracts her to jazz.
‘I have a lot of influences, but don’t try to sound like anyone else. What I love about jazz is the way that it has the potential to accommodate bits from everything. Being a jazz musician means that you should be able to take things from any playing situation and make them your own.’