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Europe-wide support for next generation of jazz stars launched in Scotland.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

We have received the following press release;

Europe-wide support for next generation of jazz stars launched in Scotland by top festivals and music educators

A new generation of world-class jazz musicians training in Scotland are at the forefront of an ambitious new Europe-wide artist development programme unveiled today (5 September).

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) and Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJBF) are joining with Europe’s leading jazz teaching institutions and festivals in a ground-breaking initiative that will see Scotland’s top young Jazz musicians study and perform in Germany, Norway, and Italy, as well as bringing some of Europe’s best young artists come to Scotland to play and learn.

The Jazz Workshop is a three-year programme funded by the European Union’s Erasmus Plus initiative. This is the largest project of its kind which aims to build connections between leading music schools and festivals, bringing together education and the professional jazz industry in talent development.

The partners – top music schools and conservatoires from Parma, Hamburg, Nuremberg, and Oslo, plus Nuejazz, Elbjazz, Parma Frontiere, and Oslo Jazz Festivals - are in Scotland today to mark the start of this important moment in the development of jazz in Europe.

The ambitious initiative’s aims include creating new repertoire, developing greater synergy between emerging musicians and professional jazz scene and enhancing international collaborations. 

Professor Tommy Smith, OBE, Head of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said:
“Jazz, by its very nature, is the essence of collaboration and breaking down borders so I’m delighted that Scotland’s jazz community of teachers, young artists along with its top festival are coming together in this brilliant way with our European counterparts.
“There have been waves of young jazz artists emerging from Scotland, England and other parts of Europe journeying through our RCS programme since 2009, and now exciting times are here to see many of them realise their dreams and being promoted at our festivals and clubs.”

Roger Spence, Producer, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, said:
“Scotland is producing a wealth of world-class jazz musicians and we’re absolutely delighted to be part of this ground-breaking opportunity to help them and their European contemporaries develop and shine on the international stage.
“This is a much-welcome investment in the future of jazz here in Scotland and across Europe and it’s going to be a real pleasure for me personally and for audiences in Scotland to play a part in nurturing the next generation of exciting jazz musicians.
“In 40 years of promoting jazz in Scotland, there has never been such a group of extraordinarily-talented musicians coming through at the same time and the Royal Conservatoire is to be credited for the role it’s playing in nurturing and developing talent, as are the range of organisations across the country who are working with primary and secondary school-age young people and introducing them to the artistry and pleasure of jazz.”

One of the most exciting aspects of Scotland’s contemporary cultural landscape has been the emergence of a group of hugely talented young jazz musicians. Even in their early twenties, a number of them are major figures on the Scottish jazz scene, attracting large audiences at festivals and clubs and making strides into the international market.

They include Fergus McCreadie and Matt Carmichael, from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s highly-acclaimed Jazz programme.

Pianist Fergus McCreadie celebrated his 22nd birthday leading his trio in a packed concert at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJBF), his fifth consecutive year as a leader at the festival. His trio has already performed at Oslo Jazz Festival and headlined at high profile clubs and concerts in Estonia, Sweden, Norway and Lithuania, as well as all over Scotland and England. This autumn they play headline shows at Ronnie Scott’s in London and Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Saxophonist Matt Carmichael is 20 and recently completed his second year at RCS. He also headlined a show at EJBF this year and his quartet play the respected Latitude Festival then tour in England including a performance at Kansas Smitty’s in London in September.

EJBF has also announced talent development projects funded by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh City Council’s Place programme, which will link young Scottish musicians with peers from Norway and Belgium over the next few months.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is consistently recognised as one of the world’s top performing arts education institutions (QS World University Rankings), endorsing its status as a national and international centre of excellence for the performing arts.
Building on its roots in 1847 as a national academy of music, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has become one of Europe’s most multi-disciplinary performing arts higher education institutions, offering specialised teaching across music, drama, dance, production, film and education. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is encouraging trans-disciplinary learning throughout its innovative curriculum.
More than 1200 students are currently pursuing degrees at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland across its specialisms. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland works in partnership with all of the national artistic companies to provide students with the very best learning experiences the Scottish landscape has to offer.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is number one in Scotland for graduate employability (Higher Education Statistics Agency (2016/17) with 99.2% of graduates in employment or further education (or both) six months after graduating.
Located in the heart of Glasgow, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is also a busy performing arts venue; it hosts more than 600 public performances each year and welcomes an audience of more than 50,000 annually.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland teaches more than 3000 part-time learners every year through its Junior Conservatoire and Lifelong Learning departments, as well as national widening access programmes.

Edinburgh Jazz Festival was established in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist, Mike Hart. Mike’s initial focus was on traditional jazz and a host of events taking place for free admission in pubs. By the mid-80s the Festival had added ticketed events, and had broadened its musical policy to encompass swing and mainstream jazz and occasionally some more modern groups.
A Princes Street parade was launched and free events in the Grassmarket and Princes Street Gardens. A blues weekend centred on the Caledonian Brewery in Slateford was added. The administration became professional and significant sponsorship, especially from brewery companies, helped the Festival to present many major international names from the worlds of classic and swing jazz. Amongst the regular visitors were Buddy Tate, Warren Vache, The Black Eagles Jazz Band and the Hot Antic Jazz Band.
From the Festival’s commencement the artistic policy has been to concentrate on musical excellence (rather than the “star system”) and to champion spontaneous creativity: music making on the spot in Edinburgh. These virtues have been developed in the 21st Century with the production of a wide range of new music, the establishment of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra, and an on-going commitment to supporting Scottish musicians to realise creative ideas, and to link with international musicians. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has also grown its world outlook, presenting high quality musicians from all over the world.

Labelled as “the most exciting new talent to emerge from Scotland in a decade” (Jazz Scotland), the Fergus McCreadie Trio is poised to take a place as one of Jazz’s most compelling outfits. Comprising McCreadie on piano, David Bowden on bass and Stephen Henderson on drums, the music is an innovative blend of jazz and Scottish traditional music. The compositions are new, fresh and exciting - but they also strike that point of familiarity for a listener that can make them seem like songs they have known since childhood. Improvisational freedom clashes with the rugged beauty of Scottish landscape to create a space where an audience can languish in the vivid imagery of Scotland’s scenery while also being challenged by the unpredictable nature of improvised music. Particularly notable about the trio is their deep empathy and connection with one another - the band have a group dynamic that can only be achieved through years of playing, performing and recording together.
In 2018, the trio released their debut album, Turas (Scottish Gaelic for Journey) to rave reviews. The album features eight original compositions, designed to take the listener on an auditory journey of the band’s native land. From the West Hebrides to the East Neuk of Fife, the music paints an evocative picture of the landscapes it has taken inspiration from. The Scotsman described the album as “Erik Satie on Islay Malt rather than Absinthe” while famous magazine JazzWise labelled the trio as “simply outstanding”. The strength of the album was affirmed at the 2019 Scottish Jazz Awards, where the trio were awarded the prize for Best Album. McCreadie, Bowden and Henderson are also awards winners in their own right - McCreadie is a winner of the Best Instrumentalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards, while Bowden is a former Young Scottish Jazz Musician and Henderson named “one to watch” by JazzWise.
In 2019, the trio embarked upon their first international tour - their 18 concerts took them to Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia, and Ronnie Scott’s in London, as well as across Scotland. Future plans include more dates in Autumn (including a performance at Stockholm Jazz Festival), and another album in 2020.

Matt Carmichael is a tenor/alto saxophonist and composer originally from the highlands of Scotland. He began playing saxophone aged 11 and was introduced to jazz music a few years later by teacher Allon Beauvoisin. He was inspired to take music more seriously after hearing Scottish groups such as Brass Jaw, SNJO and TSYJO.
Matt is studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has performed with the JM World Jazz Orchestra, The Mark Hendry Octet, NYJO, Tom Mcguire and the Brassholes, Fergus McCreadie, Paul Harrison, Jonny Mansfield and many more. Performing highlights to date include Newport Jazz Festival USA, Pizza Express Jazz Club, Latitude Festival, Love Supreme, BBC Proms, Edinburgh Jazz Festival and Celtic Connections.
Matt composes his own music influenced by jazz and folk which has had radio play on BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM and BBC Scotland.

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