Shetland Jazz Club Gigs

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Calling all musicians and music fans - Exploring Jazz

Shetland Jazz Club is mounting a Jazz Conference at Lerwick Town Hall on Sunday 28 September from 2pm to 5pm. It will be more than a conference, though. It will be more of a forum-cum-jam session-cum-networking opportunity. All musicians and music fans are invited, free of charge, to come along and join with the jazz club in exploring all the possibilities for developing vibrant new ways of promoting, presenting and playing jazz.

The history of jazz is liberally sprinkled with bold new initiatives. It has never been a standstill genre. From its earliest days in the Louisiana Delta and New Orleans jazz has been a developing music. Growing out of the blues and the songs of the cotton fields, all sorts of offshoots arose. Brass bands, honky tonks, ragtime, Dixieland, all flourished. Then came the big bands of Paul Whiteman and Fletcher Henderson, taking stars like Louis Armstrong along with them. Then there was swing music, followed by bebop, cool jazz, experimental fusion music, progressive jazz, all the way through to hip hop and rap.

Joe Harriott successfully blended jazz and Indian music in his Indo-Jazz fusions. John McLaughlan, Chick Corea and the excellent Weather Report welded rock music and free form jazz. Quincy Jones not only provided the inspiring arrangements for Michael Jackson's most successful album, Thriller , but also provided some of the best jazz music of the twentieth century, mixing rock with hip-hop, blues, free-form rapping and big band jazz.

Jazz music has permeated the soundtracks of films, adverts and some of the most memorable music you have heard. It has even influenced a plethora of classical composers, Stravinsky, Aaron Copeland and Gershwin to name a few.

In Shetland, Peerie Willie Johnson successfully integrated a swinging guitar jazz into folk tunes and left a legacy that many have adopted. The likes of Ron Mathewson and Billy Kay also added to that rich legacy.

It is in the spirit of all these fine endeavours that Shetland Jazz Club stages this unique conference in the great hope that some new dynamic cross-fertilisation can happen within the Shetland musical family and that some new ideas will be fermented for the presentation of future jazz oriented gigs.

The conference is free and anyone with the slightest interest in jazz or related musics are welcome to participate in what should prove to be a fascinating and entertaining day. Bring your instruments and try things out. Make a noise for Shetland jazz. And there will be an all-day bar to help things along.

Cathie Rae

The conference will be followed at 8pm with a gig featuring some of the best players on the contemporary Scottish jazz scene. The rising new band Cat's Club features Graeme Stephen on guitar, who is the Scottish Jazz Musicians of the Year, Paul Harrison on keybards, the phenomenal Mario Caribe on bass, John Lowrie on drums, all backing Cathie Rae, one of the great Rae dynasty of Scottish jazz performers, singing a fine selection of songs old and new.

Part of a new Scottish tour. "Cat's Club is poised to become one of Scotland's best musical outfits… it ticks all the boxes" William Wilson, Lyth Arts Centre.

Tickets for this excellent gig are just £12.00 (10.00 concs) from the Shetland Box Office

The whole day should be a hum-dinger of a musical experience.




Friday 6 June 7.30pm Town Hall
Licensed bar - great party atmosphere
On Door only - £5.00



'First Steps' album launch
Town Hall - 16 February 2014 2pm

Shetland Improvisers Orchestra has a new CD coming out at a special Town Hall launch. The SIO CD is called First Steps and comes out on Trevor Taylor’s FMR Record Label, where most of the eminent world improvising musicians have their recordings. The CD is a record of the orchestra from its very first meeting up to their celebrated performance at the Glasgow Improvisers Festival. This latter performance is included in its entirety.

The orchestra was formed in 2011 and had its first public performance in the first Shetland Jazz Festival. A series of improvisation workshops were arranged with George Burt and Raymond MacDonald from the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra leading the proceedings. It was out of these sessions that the idea and the actual formation of the orchestra occurred.

Shetland Improvisers Orchestra members are working on improvised accompaniments to silent Dada and Surrealist films. It is interesting challenging stuff. In the world of improvisation you start all over again and learn how to use sounds rather than musical notations and forms. It's a bit like tightrope walking without a safety net.

The Town Hall concert on 16 February will also feature solo piano pieces by Lewis Hall and duets by Jill Slee Blackadder and Clare Aldington, as well as the celebrated Afro-Shetland percussion ensemble Aesteawast, some of the players of which also play in the improvisers orchestra. It promises to be a relaxed Sunday afternoon session of interesting music and drink at the laid-on bar. There is no booking, just turn up at 2pm and pay on the door - £6.00 which includes a free copy of the First Steps CD.

Tickets on door only: £6.00 includes a free CD - bargain!



The Grand Shetland Jazz Buffet

Saturday 14 December 2013 7.30pm

A great night out with a scrumptious feast

7pm arrive to sparkling wine and brandy cocktail and delicious canapés

Dr Jazz Christmas Radio Special – some of the very best Christmas tunes in jazz style.

Bill Wells and the National Jazz Trio of Scotland
big Santa of a man with some of the finest
Christmas tunes as you have never heard them before -
and only heard on record as flight cancellations
prevented the band's appearance.

Break for Festive Jazz Buffet – help yourself to an array of delicious festive foods
and great veggie alternatives for all tastes; quiches, terrines and fabulous
side trimmings... all you could wish for a great Christmass feast.

Selection of succulent sweets from the Peerie Café organisation

Clear some tables and be ready to dance the rest
of the night away with upbeat funky music from
Norman Willmore's Funk Combo

Ideal for group party celebrations – book a table or two now
and all this for just £25.00 a head including food


Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
with a glorious tribute to the

Spirit of Duke Ellington
and a sumptuous performance of
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue

11th October 2013 at Mareel

Shetland Jazz Club kicks off the 2013-14 season with an absolutely fantastic concert at the Mareel. The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra have just returned from the USA and Canada where they caused an absolute storm with their Spirit of Duke performances, recreating the music of the legendary jazz composers Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Multi-award winning pianist Brian Kellock took the piano chair, to enormous acclaim, and as an additional bonus audiences were treated to an astonishingly refreshing rendition of that great George Gershwin concerto Rhapsody in Blue. To say it brought the houses down in the North American venues in New York, Rochester, Toronto and Montreal is an understatement. Audiences were ecstatic in their approval of such great music so immaculately played.

As we all saw at the 2012 Shetland Jazz Festival gig at Clickimin, the SNJO is a company of brilliant players who play together with the kind of corporate coherence but effortless individuality that you would expect from an ensemble like that of Duke or Miles. Here we have it all in a Scottish orchestra.

And then there’s the Gerswin. The lush sounds of the Rhapsody are a perfect complement to the Ellington material and the Kellock/SNJO recording of it stands up against any other version you may have heard. As one reviewer said, “I can't recommend this album highly enough. If there is only one thing wrong with it, it's that it's all just one track. This is a problem because once you put it on you won't want to take it off.”

A concert for connoisseurs indeed, of jazz and concert music, and a wonderful opportunity for Shetland audiencesto share in this internationally renowned concert. Definitely not to be missed.

Tickets on sale now - from Mareel or Shetland Box Office


Debate may continue regarding Mareel’s events programme, and specifically that not every event promoted there is packed to the rafters – but what venue anywhere could boast that?

However, a bumper crowd on Thursday night for Seth Lakeman, a pending sell-out on Saturday for Big Country (with our very own Revellers in support), plus, sandwiched in between, a sell-out crowd for a Friday night of top quality music courtesy of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, with Tommy Smith on saxophone and Brian Kellock on piano, isn’t a bad return, I would suggest.

Jeff Merrifield aka 'Dr Jazz' (the ‘Duracell Bunny’ of the Shetland jazz scene) took to the stage resplendent in white jacket to introduce the evening, billed as The Spirit of Ellington - with Smith and Kellock’s own major arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Jeff enthused about the night to come in his own inimitable fashion. “Wonderful”, “fabulous” and “marvellous” were just three of the superlatives he used. If his exuberance for the music could be turned into euros this man could singlehandedly wipe out the Greek national debt.

“We’re on the last night of our tour, so we’re all very drunk,” joked orchestra leader Tommy Smith, perhaps the finest sax player in the UK today, as the band launched into Ellington’s Black and Tan Fantasy. This was followed by Sweet Velvet, written for the Queen in 1955 - who Ellington apparently had a bit of a crush on).

More tunes in the Spirit of Ellington followed, ranging from the frantic Daybreak Express to the passionate Prelude to a Kiss, with, from time to time, musical side-dalliances into special arrangements, including Grieg’s classics Hall of the Mountain King and Morning, plus Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Brian Kellock and Tommy Smith. It takes a big man to fill Duke Ellington’s shoes on piano, but Brian Kellock IS a big man and more than up to such a daunting task. He’s a national treasure and nothing short of a wizard on the instrument.

And the orchestra rarely fell short of mind-boggling, with solo after solo drawing enthusiastic applause from the large audience. Smith has clearly inherited Ellington’s talents as a bandleader. No mean feat, and, yes, that good!

Then it was time to close the first half with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. What followed was a wonderfully protracted version, laden with improvisational dexterity. Smith described it as “an arrangement of an arrangement of an orchestration of an arrangement”. Whatever, it was astonishing.

Smith and Kellock teamed up again early in the second half with such intensity and ferocity it threatened to blister the varnish off the Mareel auditorium. Other tunes, including Ellington’s classic Mood Indigo, were eerily and spine-tinglingly beautiful in their delivery.

The show climaxed with more Ellington standards, winning a richly deserved standing ovation, before the inevitable encore demands were answered with Sepia Panorama and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

“When we first came here all those years ago we used to sit up playing till around three in the morning with the likes of Peerie Willie,” recalled Smith, “so we’ve only got another 50 tunes to go now!” Everyone seemed disappointed that he was only joking.

So, yes indeed, Dr Jazz it was wonderful, fabulous and marvellous as you quite rightly predicted at the outset of the evening. It was quite simply a fantastic night of music, courtesy of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the most committed promoter in the business – not forgetting the Shetland Jazz Club committee too, of course.

Davie Gardner


Bevvy Sisters Shetland Tour

26h July at Scalloway Hall with Beef Cleaver
27th at Islesburgh with Troppo Funk - Jazz Buffet and cabaret
and Sunday Jazz Brunch at Tingwall Hall

see Dave Hammond's little movie ad for this gig on FaceBook

Dr Jazz at 70

BBC Radio Shetland's jazz presenter
has a birthday bash and celebrates a life in jazz
with one of his all-time favourite performers

Town Hall 10 March 2013 7.30pm

Gilad Atzmon and the
Orient House Ensemble
Click here for full details

Gilad Atzmon saxes
Frank Harrison keyboards
Yaron Stavi bass
Eddie Hick drums

plus small groups from the
Shetland Improvisers Orchestra

Gilad will be playing music from his brand new album Songs of
the Metropolis
which features music inspired by great cities.

Orient House Ensemble are celebrating their tenth anniversary as
a performing group. During that time they have regularly played
gigs at places like the South Bank, the Barbican and Pizza Express,
all top London venues, as well as touring the UK and internationally.
Gilad's style is at the cutting edge of jazz and world music, combining
the musical traditions from many cultures and developing a creative
expression that is vibrant, multi-cultural and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tickets £16.00 (14.00 members and concs.)
from Shetland Box Office
01595 745555


Previous Gigs



Tommy Smith Live at Mareel


The Great Grand Christmas Jazz Dinner
15 December - Town Hall

Featuring Brass Jaw playing special Chrissy Jazz + support
and Bo Simmons scrumtious gourmet Christmas food


22 September 2012
Now at the Mareel!


Julian Arguelles - saxes
Gareth Lockrane - flutes
Euan Burton - bass
Ernesto Simpson - drums
Phil Robson - guitar

Phil Robson (guitar/composer), Julian Arguelles (saxophone), Gareth Lockrane (flutes), Michael Janisch (bass) & Ernesto Simpson (drums). Born of a commission from Derby Jazz in early 2011, this exciting new band launched their debut CD  Phil Robson - The Immeasurable Code (Whirlwind Recordings Ltd) and was featured at the Purcell Rooms in November as part of The London Jazz Festival, acquiring a 4 star review in the Evening Standard.  The material, (composed by Robson) is based around a concept of communication methods - ancient to modern. ‘I can only describe this group as unmissable’ London Jazz Blog

22 September at 8pm - Supported by MAHOGANY
Originally scheduled for Town Hall but now in the MAREEL
Twelve date British tour in association with Jazz Services
Tickets: £11 (concs and members: £9.00)
From Shetland Box Office: - 01595 745555




Dorian Ford Trio - The Bill Game
A NEW format for playing jazz is to be explored in Shetland later this month by pianist Dorian Ford and his trio.
The trio will feature in two concerts at the end of this month playing the music of Bill Evans, the US pianist-composer
noted for the unique sound world he created during the hey-day of US jazz in the 1960s and 1970s. The music of Bill Evans
will be lovingly recreated by Dorian Ford and presented in all its simplistic beauty by an all star trio.

Bigton Hall
Friday 27 April 2012 8pm

Shetland Town Hall
Upper Hillhead
Saturday 28 April 2012 8pm
with Dorian Ford piano, Mick Hutton bass, Tom Skinner drums
£8 - 01595 745555 -


Sunday 29 April - 6pm - open workshop session on free improvised music by Raymond MacDonald
leading to the formation of the Shetland Improvisers Orchestra and a gig at the festival.
Open to all - Islesburgh Centre 6pm - 10pm - free in every way.

Tom Gibbs of Stu Brown's band fame - he was here on the animated jazz project - now comes to work with local musicians in one of a continuing series of workshops leading to the festival

Tomm Gibbs

Cathie Rae Trio
featuring Cathie Rae - vocals - from the famous Rae Family of Scottish musicians
Graeme Stephen - on guitar - the Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year
Julian Arguelles - on sax - one of the great European jazz musicians

This is a real quality ensemble and all those who enjoyed our Christmas gig, at which Cathie's father played bass, will also love this one. Graeme Stephen is a dream of a player and Julian Arguelles is renowned as one of Britain'e very best sax players with an international reputation. This is one not to miss.

Bigton Hall Friday 24 February 8pm
Lerwick Town Hall 25 February 8pm
Tickets £9.00 (£7.00 concs) from Shetland Box Office 01595 745555

Improvisers Workshop at Islesburgh Centre Sunday 26 February 6pm to 8pm
with Raymond Macdonald and George Burt from Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

The second in a series of workshops to explore the art of improvisation leading up to the 2012 Shetland Jazz Festival with the first public performance of the Shetland Improvisers Orchestra. Everyone welcome.


Jazz Workshop Project
5 November - Islesburgh

Shetland Jazz Club has organised a series of jazz workshop projects where well-known pianist-arrangers come to work with Shetland musicians to put together a jazz gig at the Islesburgh Centre. The first of these sessions will be on Saturday 5 November when Steve Hamilton, keyboard player with Tommy Smith's Karma amongst others in an illustrious career, will come and prepare a session featuring a range of local musicians.

These should be great gigs in the style of the old jam sessions. All interested musicians are welcome to attend.

Workshop session: 4pm Islesburgh
Evening gig (open to public): 8pm Islesburgh

Pianist Steve Hamilton alternates McCoy Tyner-esque cascades with sumptuously lyrical episodes worthy of Herbie Hancock or Keith Jarrett. [Peter Marsh -, Jazz Reviews]

Tickets for evening gig £5.00 only - on the door.













 Great Christmas Jazz Feast - 10 December Town Hall

Shetland Jazz Club is laying on a special treat for Christmas – a rather scrumptious jazz feast. With catering in the safe hands of Bo Simmons only the highest of standards can be expected. From the arrival to canapés and brandy cocktail, through the gourmet boned turkey (or delightful nutroast veggie alternative) dinner, to the heavenly galuska trifle, this will be a Christmas meal to savour and long remember.

 And the musical fare that goes with this feast is equally succulent and to be savoured. The heavenly voice of the legendary Fionna Duncan will be augmented by two other national jazz legends, pianist Brian Kellock and bass player Ronnie Rae. Now is that some dream team? It’s the nearest thing to jazz royalty you can get in Scotland. A feast of music for the ears to match the gourmet treats for the palette.

 All this will take place on 10 December at the Town Hall in Lerwick. This extravagance of delights is available to anyone but we are informing known jazz enthusiasts on our mailing and Facebook lists first. Ticket will be sold on a first come basis as numbers are limited. When you book your tickets you will be given a choice of turkey meal or vegetarian alternative. Tickets for the complete package cost £36 – and that is a real bargain for what is on offer – from the Shetland Box Office as usual – 01595 745555. So come on, be brave and pamper yourself for Christmas – and this could be an ideal option as an office outing. Spread the word.


Shetland Box Office - 01595 745555 -