I am back from my whirlwind 4 day visit to Edinburgh. Through a series of lucky breaks, a timely recommendation from a friend (George Colligan), and of course, due to the Scottish people's keen appreciation of good music, I like to think, I have been a frequent visitor there. I've played most of the Scottish festivals: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Nairn, Islay, St Andrews, etc.
One of the things that has made my Scottish gigs so enjoyable is that for a long time, I didn't bring a band. The way the presenter there always booked was to try to match you up with some local players that you might connect with. For a smallish city (500,000 or so) Edinburgh has a very rich jazz scene, with some truly spectacular players. One who I have collaborated with a great deal is the excellent sax player, Phil Bancroft. He has a great sound, and walks the line between free playing and lyrical soloing over changes, an earthy warm sort of player that fits in almost any context.
But there are many other fine players including: Mario Caribe, a fun, energetic bassist with a big beat, whose band I have been playing with, Laura MacDonald, a first rate alto player who is always a pleasure to play with, Aidan ODonnell, a terrific young bassist now living in New York, Alyn Cosker, a fiery drummer a bit in the Jeff Watts mold. It's really astonishing, the number of great pianists (Brian Kellock, Dave Millligan, Paul Harrison, Steve Hamilton), horn players (Julian Arguilles (now in Frankfurt), Colin Steele, Tommy Smith) drummers (Tom Bancroft, Stu Ritchie, John Ray before he moved off to New Zealand) and the list goes on and on. (My apologies to those that I've left off, there are many many others including a terrific concertina player named Simon Thoumire.) In addition to this, through the offices of Assembly Direct and their mixing and matching, I've worked with a lot of fine musicians from all over, including, Jaleel Shaw, Warren Vache, Hammiet Bluiett, Fredrick Nordstrom, and most recently old friends Matt Wilson and Chris Lightcap. (I still play with them in NYC but not as often as I'd like, so it was great to hook up with Matt and Chris on a couple of gigs in Edinburgh). Americans aside, the number and diversity of these great scottish players is truly astonishing, and Roger Spence, the man who continues to bring me is a true friend, of the music and me personally. Always a great hang (not to mention the lovable Fiona Alexander.)
So thanks all!
The laundry list of names above may not be the most fascinating reading if you don't know these folks, but maybe some of you do know them, and if not, well, you should know them. If I had to move out of the US tomorrow, I'd think pretty seriously about Edinburgh. And after the 94 degree heat, 75 percent humidity of Tokyo, the San Francisco-like weather was a pretty nice break although now I have a cold, I think. The flights through Amsterdam kicked my butt in a jetlaggy sort of way and now I'm due for a rest...Not much playing going on until I return to the US at the end of August.