The last night of the jazz festival got off to a jubilant start – thanks to the Edinburgh-based Nova Scotia Jazz Band, which included two special guests, Jack Wilson (drums) and Brian Kellock (the pianist who recently won the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Instrumentalist in the UK, and who has probably notched up more diverse jazz festival engagements this week than any other single musician).
Playing to a stowed-out Spiegeltent, the band dished up a programme of rousing Dixieland and classic jazz tunes and had feet stomping from the off. This was happy, unpretentious jazz – and it was a treat to get to hear such a top-notch band playing it. Nova Scotia may be a relatively young outfit (only formed a few years ago), but the front-line of John Burgess (clarinet and tenor sax) and Mike Daly (cornet) gel so well you would think they’d been playing together for decades.
Among the many highlights – most of which were crammed into the first half – were the sultry ballads New Orleans and When It’s Sleepy Time Down South, both of which showcased the warmth and richness of this ensemble’s sound and, especially, the lovely burnished tone of Mike Daly’s cornet, and his lyrical style. Kellock, who was in dynamic form, ramped the band’s performance up the Richter scale on a thrilling Riverboat Shuffle and After You’ve Gone, before duetting with Burgess (on saxophone) on an unforgettable and moving version of Georgia, dedicated to their old friend, the late Tam White (see clip below).
(First published in The Scotsman, Tuesday August 2nd.)