The annual general meeting of Shetland Jazz Club took place last week and a healthy turnout of people ensured a positive and purposeful future of jazz presentation on Shetland.
The last year has seen a revival in jazz interest and significance, with highly successful visits from saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, pianist Harris Playfair and drummer Alyn Cosker. The result of this revived interest was shown by the increased numbers attending the meeting.
The other strong feature of this jazz revival has been the involvement of young jazz players in the process. The Playfair weekend also featured Kirkwall Grammar School Big Band and Shetland Youth Jazz, while Norman and the Folding Deckchairs have played as support in all the other jazz gigs.
All of the visiting jazz musicians have run workshops and masterclasses, mostly attended by young people. Jeff Merrifield, secretary of the jazz club, emphasised the point: “This pattern of jazz presentation has now been adopted by the Shetland Jazz Club and all future visiting jazz musicians will be asked to present workshops alongside their performance. Already we have booked the guitar legends John Etheridge and Jim Mullen, around the time of the Guitar Festival, and both have agreed to offer workshop opportunities.”
This emphasis on the practical involvement of young musicians was reflected in the election of officers, with Norman Willmore being elected as honorary president and Max Tyler taking on the role of publicity and electronic communications (he’ll be involved in the website development as well as setting up Facebook, MySpace and Twitter sites for the jazz club fraternity). Also elected onto the committee were Tracey Leith and Chris Horrix, while Lesley Roberts and Jeff Merrifield were re-elected chair and secretary respectively.
In May, as a result of a previous funding application to the Scottish Arts Council, saxophonist Rob Hall and pianist Chick Lyall will be visiting Shetland for concerts and workshops. These two highly talented and respected jazz musicians are also at the top of the tree in terms of jazz education.
The next presentation of Shetland Jazz Club is the Scottish premiere of the jazz documentary film My Name is Albert Ayler, regarded as one of the finest jazz films ever made. You can see it tomorrow at the Shetland Museum, showing time 7pm, tickets on the door.