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Jazzers Let The Music Speak For Itself

Jeff Zycinski | 23:34 UK time, Monday, 23 June 2008


Off the train from Inverness to Glasgow tonight and straight to the Old Fruitmarket in Candleriggs for the finals of BBC Radio Scotland Young Jazz Musician competition. Only at Stirling did I remember that I had to write a speech to open the event. I mentioned the midsummer weather in Glasgow but, at the last moment, decided against a cheap joke about dolphins in the River Clyde. I sensed the audience might have lynched me.

A great show, however, hosted by Stephen Duffy and featuring some of Scotland's most talented young jazz musicians. None of them actually introduced themselves to the audience, which is a bit of a shame, but I suppose it allows the judges to make a decision based on their music rather than their stage presence or banter.

In the end the winner was eighteen year old Joe Wright who played tenor sax and delighted the audience with her version of Body and Soul as well as his own composition Bennachie Summit.

There was also a brilliant set from last year's winner, Alan Benzie. I spoke to him after the show and heard how he as spent the last twelve months as a student in Boston. He's heading for the second year of a four year course and his funding comes from a charitable trust. The trouble is, he has to apply for that funding every year so he can't be sure he'll ever make it to the end of the course.

The Glasgow International Jazz Festival seems to endure a similar existence. Those in the know tell me it has gained a solid reputation as a venue for top class British jazz musicians...and talented (but lesser-known) international artists. But it doesn't tend to go for celebrity musicians and, therefore, attracts no big sponsors.

Let's hope it's not a victim of its own success.


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