Glasgow Jazz Festival
- Stewart Smith
- 15 June 2016
Kamasi Washington to headline as the festival celebrates its 30th year
Kamasi Washington is jazz's biggest success story in decades, opening ears and minds with his contemporary invocation of spiritual jazz, and reaching new audiences through his collaborations with hip-hop artists Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. All this makes the Californian saxophonist a fitting headliner for a Glasgow Jazz Festival that seems revitalised by its commitment to new talent.
The 30 Under 30 strand marks the festival's 30th anniversary by celebrating Scottish artists who are making waves in the jazz world. Many of them will be performing, including 2015 Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, saxophonist Helena Kay, the Beat Generation-inspired Howl Quintet and Glasgow fusioneers Quarks. Other highlights include acclaimed bassist Brodie Jarvie's Denland, Michael Butcher, the Pete Johnstone Quartet and the Fergus McCreadie Trio.
There's also a strong showing of innovative UK acts, including Soweto Kinch, Kit Downes Enemy and Mammal Hands. Kinch, a London-based alto saxophonist and rapper, blends hard rhymes and head-nodding grooves with hard bop, free blowing and African-Caribbean influences. His sensational live show is not to be missed. One of the best young keyboardists around, Kit Downes' projects include Tricko, a chamber duo with cellist Lucy Railton, and the wiggy prog-jazz outfit Troyka. Enemy is his high-energy acoustic piano trio: dig! Mammal Hands, meanwhile, offer a classy take on post-EST Nordic minimalism.
Given the proven Scottish audience for avant-garde jazz, it's a shame there's little in that vein beyond English pianist Howard Riley, who shares a bill with Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. He's a must see, having played with such luminaries as Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Tony Oxley. GIO saxophonist Sue McKenzie and bassist Emma Smith bring Bitches Brew, their Edinburgh showcase for female musicians, west for the first time, and perform their own show as Syntonic.
Glasgow Jazz Festival, various venues, Glasgow, Wed 22 Jun–Sun 3 Jul.