Tag Archives: Tam White

Review: Tam White Memorial Concert

Tam White – A Night of Celebration, Pleasance Theatre Cabaret Bar, Edinburgh, Sunday October 16th ****

As the singer Liz MacEwan noted in her moving speech at the Scottish Jazz Awards earlier this year, the Edinburgh singer/stonemason Tam White – who was being inducted into the Scottish Jazz Hall of Fame – was someone whose life touched many others, and from many different backgrounds. Even within the music world, he straddled so many genres – what John Byrne described as “down ‘n’ durty rock’n’ roll”, blues and, to a lesser extent, jazz – that any event celebrating his musical life was bound to be a diverse and colourful one.

And Sunday night’s memorial concert – the first “formal” memorial since White’s sudden death in June 2010 – certainly lived up to those expectations. Organised by two of White’s closest musical pals, pianist Brian Kellock and guitarist Neil Warden, it brought together musicians from across the board – a veritable Who’s Who of the Edinburgh scene – and attracted a sell-out audience.

A dynamic set by the Dexters, White’s band from the 1980s, led by MacEwan, whipped the crowd into festive mode; a bawdy, funky Let the Good Times Roll establishing the party atmosphere that characterised the evening’s proceedings. Singer-guitarist Stevey Hay took over the reins for a funky, bluesy set which featured some electrifying guitar work from Neil Warden, notably on Got My Mojo Working.

There were quieter moments too – courtesy of a gorgeous duet on the ballad Nancy With the Laughing Face, by tenor saxophonist Julian Arguelles and Brian Kellock, and a poignant song, Dear Mr White, written by saxophonist Bobby Ewing who joined Liz MacEwan and co to perform it.

First published in The Scotsman,  Tuesday October 18th.

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Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2011: Nova Scotia Jazz Band with Brian Kellock

Nova Scotia Jazz Band with Brian Kellock, Spiegeltent, Sunday July 31st ****

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.)

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