Islay Jazz Festival
Various venues, Islay, Fri 14–Sun 16 Sep
This article is from 2007.
The Islay Jazz Festival seemed a risky proposition when it was first launched back in 1999, but it took off in no uncertain terms. Guitarist Martin Taylor declared it ‘the best wee jazz festival in Scotland’ after the inaugural event, and there are many who would enthusiastically endorse that sentiment.
Islay quickly became established as a popular date on the jazz calendar, and now attracts lots of regular visitors. The event certainly owes some of its attraction to the idea of a weekend spent away from the usual haunts in glorious surroundings, and the convivial atmosphere adds to that appeal.
The programming formula has remained constant over the eight previous festivals. As ever, this year’s event features a combination of the cream of Scotland’s own jazz players with a sprinkling of interesting guests from Europe and America, offering both a showcase for home-based jazz talent, and the opportunity to cultivate collaborations, old and new.
Established bands such as the Tommy Smith-Brian Kellock duo, Moishe’s Bagel and the more traditional Scottish Jazz All Stars line up alongside newer faces, including saxophonist Leah Gough-Cooper, a very impressive finalist in the inaugural Young Scottish Jazz Musician award at the Glasgow Jazz Festival.
Likely highlights include an intriguing collaboration between US saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Peplowski and Swedish trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz (pictured) with Monk’s music as their agenda, and a stellar closing bash led by saxophonist Laura MacDonald.
The eight festival venues are scattered widely around the island, so transport is required, although there will be a festival bus for selected concerts this year (call 0131 467 5200 for details). Who knows, this year’s event may even buck the trend and catch a rare dry spell in this wettest of summers.