Shetland is to host some of the world’s finest young jazz musicians next weekend when the Michael Janisch Quintet make their way north during their current tour.
An eclectic mix of everything from Latin and swing to soul, groove and the avant garde can be expected from Janisch’s band at evening concerts in the Sandwick Social Club on Friday 17th and St Columba’s Church, Lerwick, on Saturday 18th, followed by a session in the Lounge on Sunday 19th.
Not content with playing two concerts and the Lounge session, the band will also be holding a series of school workshops and an informal jam session with the public at the Sandwick Social Club before their concert on Friday. There will also be a masterclass at St Columba’s on Saturday afternoon.
Each concert will feature support from one of Shetland’s up and coming young bands, Norman and the Folding Deckchairs.
The visit marks the last of the Peerie Willie Guitar Season concerts, held in celebration of the late great Shetland guitarist Willie Johnson. Performances and educational events this year have featured Ian Bairnson, Jim Mullen, John Etheridge and the Lulo Reinhardt Latin Swing Project.
The group is led by electric and upright bassist Janisch. The name may be familiar to Shetland audiences as Janisch visited as a member of the Alyn Cosker Quartet earlier this year and has been keen to return since.
Mr Janisch said: “I’ve been all over the place and Shetland was still by far one of the most interesting, fun, and dare I say mystical places I’ve ever toured!”
Originally from Wisconsin, he is now based in London where he is an in demand session player, and hosts a regular night at the famous Ronnie Scott’s jazz club.
His virtuosity has resulted in numerous press accolades: The Times described him as “always hip, melodic, and bouncy” while The Guardian noted that Janisch is “One of the UK’s most exciting new Improvisers with percussive, Mingus-like power”.
Shetland Arts’ music development officer Bryan Peterson said: “A group led by a bassist is a first for the Peerie Willie Festival. It is fitting as Willie himself was a great bassist as well as seminal guitar player.”
Janisch is joined by four musicians in guitarist Phil Robson, saxophonist Paul Booth, trumpeter Jay Phelps and drummer Andrew Bain, who have a host of awards and accolades between them.
Robson, who has won numerous awards for his playing including the Perrier Young Jazz award for the Best Instrumentalist of the Year and the Parliamentary Jazz Awards Best Jazz Musician of the year, has list of playing credits including Barbra Streisand, Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine, Georgy Fame, Martin Taylor, Michael McDonald and Pee Wee Ellis.
Canadian Phelps is at the forefront of the young and creative generation of jazz musicians in the UK. Remarkably experienced for a musician in his 20s, he has played with the likes of Courtney Pine, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Brown, George Benson, Jamie Cullum, Sir John Dankworth, Amy Winehouse and Charlotte Church.
Saxophonist Booth is one of the most exciting and in demand musicians on the scene today. He has won many awards including the prestigious Clifford Brown/Stan Getz fellowship in Miami and the Best Modern Jazz Player category in the televised Young Jazz Player of the Year competition. Currently in the Steve Winwood band, he has performed worldwide with the likes of Eric Clapton, Snowboy, Tony Hadley and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Finally, drummer Bain is one of the leading performers and educators in the UK today. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Manhattan School of Music, and winner of the BBC Big Band Drummer award, he has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman and Bob Mintzer. Bain is also co-director of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland.
The band are currently on tour to support Janisch’s debut album Purpose Built which has been receiving great critical acclaim.
Mr Peterson added: “The group truly are some of the most prodigiously talented jazz musicians in the world. I urge everyone to take the opportunity to experience their music, and thoroughly recommend local musicians of all styles to come along to the masterclass on Saturday and session on Sunday to get an insight into their remarkable playing and compositional techniques.”