Edinburgh support worker and musician organises online Christmas ‘concert’ for care homes and hospital wards

Posted by Dick Playfair on Dec 22, 2020

She didn’t want her gran to miss out on Christmas music this year.

Alex Stewart, an Edinburgh-based support worker and musician (Red Hot Rhythm Makers, Cat Named Jack etc), decided when it looked inevitable there would be no live carol singing visits to care homes this Christmas (2020), including the home where her gran Marion Stewart is a resident, St Olaf’s Nursing Home in Nairn, that she needed to do something about it.


Be contemporary, not temporary. Be like John.

Posted by Dick Playfair on Oct 19, 2019

The Anoushka Nanguy Quartet and the Georgia Cécile Quartet at the St Bride’s Centre, Edinburgh, opening Gallus, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Jazz Weekend.

In my last blog I was spoiled for jazz, and this time I was spoiled for more. The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has a new little brother (or should it be sister?) in Gallus, the Scottish Jazz Weekend, which kicked off at the St Bride’s Centre, Edinburgh last night, the opening acts being newcomer Anoushka Nanguy followed by a now familiar face and voice on the Scottish jazz scene and further afield, Georgia Cécile, each accompanied by a trio. And what a great night it was.


Spoiled for jazz!

Posted by Dick Playfair on Oct 5, 2019

It wasn’t the Festival. It wasn’t the Fringe. It wasn’t the Jazz Festival, but you could be mistaken for thinking it was given the number of top-line jazz gigs that have been happening in Edinburgh over the last few days. We’ve had the Verneert/Simon Quartet – a French, Belgian, Spanish mix – at Polwarth Church and at Whighams, and Simon Spillett with JazzMain at the Voodoo Rooms. There’s been the Yati Durant/David Patrick Miles, Miles, Miles project at the Jazz Bar, and visiting US bassist Adam Booker with Richard Bailey and Keith Haldane at Palmerston Place. And, to round it off, trumpet maestro Jon Green launching his new album with a stellar line-up of Scotland’s finest at the Outhouse.  And then there was all the usual programmed activity too.


CoartJazz – an exceptional concert to bring the curtain down on a fabulous week

Posted by Dick Playfair on Aug 29, 2019

You know those times in life when you’ve sat through a really mediocre film without nodding off or persevered to the very last words of a rubbish book and thought “please can I have that time of my life back.”  And we have all been to gigs like that too.  Well, the concert staged by the septet of intervenants, the professionals, to round off the CoartJazz week in August was the absolute polar opposite.


A change is as good as a rest, musically speaking (1)

Posted by Dick Playfair on Aug 27, 2019

An inspirational week at CoartJazz

The mediaeval village of Coaraze clings to the top of a rocky outcrop a 40 minute drive from Nice on the Cote d’Azur, playground of the rich and famous. But last week it was Coaraze that drew the discerning jazzerati like bees to a honey pot.


The Red Hot Rhythm Makers – percolatin’ brilliant

Posted by Dick Playfair on Aug 10, 2019

There is a palpable buzz as the “gals” get ready. There’s no luxury of a dressing room, or backstage.  This is the Edinburgh Jazz Bar, the temple of Jazz, and what a place to see Scotland’s six-piece all girl jazz band, the Red Hot Rhythm Makers.  Heads turn as a few bars of Duelling Banjos ring out for the soundcheck, and then, after a brief introduction, it’s straight into Royal Garden Blues.

Led by Ali Affleck (vocal, washboard, cymbal, woodblock), the show is based loosely on the band’s project, Six Gals Named Smith, all of whom were singing or performing songs through the early years of the 20th century, and Bessie Smith, Trixie Smith, Ruby Smith, Clara Smith, Laura Smith and Mamie Smith, are the inspiration and the source of much of the content, along with some Ma Rainey and Memphis Minne.


Blooming marvellous – Anna e rovesciata i fagioli

Posted by Dick Playfair on Aug 6, 2019

We’ve had an interesting discussion in the office today about entertainment and angst and concluded that, of course, we go out of our way to be entertained by the fortunes of others. But equally by their misfortunes. King Lear, Mimi, Valjean, Baldrick and so on.

Magical jazz singer and actress Anna Vanosi’s Late Bloomers’ Tales falls into a cherry orchard, tragi-comic middle ground. She recounts her life’s journey so far, taking you on it with her (how old is this girl?) and it’s one of disappointment, unfulfillment and ‘late blooming’. And all the while she’s in her pyjamas!  If you get the Facebook clips, it’s a bit of a Daytona Slingshot of a ride.


JazzMain break the rules

Posted by Dick Playfair on Jul 21, 2019

I really enjoyed The Silver Project a few years back when JazzMain put a celebration of Horace Silver numbers together.

I haven’t seen JazzMain since although this must be one of the hardest working quartets on the circuit, popping up at this and that in Scotland (and Ireland), and leader, my jazzy chum Nick Gould, finding every available opportunity to deliver some tenor madness – at home, in France and beyond.


Stomps, rags, struts and blues – The Tenement Jazz Band storm it with Brian Kellock

Posted by Dick Playfair on Jul 20, 2019

I was brought up on a diet of early jazz – Jelly Roll Morton, Freddie Keppard, King Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Kid Ory. It was all my dad played if he got near the Bush Gramophone, apart from opera. So, a lunchtime with Brian Kellock, the unquestioned current supremo of Scottish jazz piano and the Tenement Jazz Band was going to unlock a box of nostalgia for me.  It did.

Brian opened proceedings at this one-off gig at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival 2019 in inimitable style with Put A Shine On Your Shoes, the ballad I’ll Never Be The Same melting into Slow Boat To China, and then a little entertaining chat for those of us old enough to remember Kia Ora and Woodbines. Then he left the stage.


Five go to The Stranglers

Posted by Dick Playfair on Mar 24, 2019

I saw The Stranglers for the first time in June 1977 at Cambridge Corn Exchange, just after the release of Rattus Norvegicus. I saw them again this week at the same venue in the company of four good friends, the ‘oldest mates’, all contemporaries at Magdalene. A bonus was that Dr Feelgood reincarnate, originally that anarchic pub-rock quartet from Canvey Island, but sadly now with no remaining founder members, were the opening act.