The first notes of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival were played at the Spiegeltent in George Square, this time in memory of founder Mike Hart whose hard work and dedication spanned over 60 years.
In a celebration of Hart’s contribution to the Edinburgh jazz scene four acts, three of which he was personally involved with, came together to celebrate his love of jazz. The Climax Jazz Band, Scottish Jazz Advocates and The Society Syncopators were reformed for this special event featuring members both new and old. Hamish McGregor put together this special program alongside colleagues Norrie Thompson and Graham Blamire.
First up was the Climax Jazz Band. The group kicked things off with some traditional New Orleans style jazz & blues. The Society Syncopators, led by Mike Daly, followed up with a blend of swing and blues with vocalist Wendy Wetherby utilizing her strong vocal talent for a few ballads. Rounding off the first half with classic tracks like A Kiss To Build A Dream On and I Can’t Give You Anything But Love with some acoustic flair from Phil Adams.
After a short interval Spirits of Rhythm commenced the second act with a moving performance. Featuring the original lineup led by pianist Violet Milne, the band harkened back to the old school sounds of New Orleans and featured vocals by Dave Strutt & Kenny Milne bringing a feeling of nostalgia and reminiscence.
Last but certainly not least, Scottish Jazz Advocates round up the final 40 minutes with an exciting final set filled with energy, charm and humor. Led by Hamish McGregor, the groups undeniable talent and charisma proved to be the perfect final performance, a particular highlight being Ross Milligan’s banjo led performance, whose constant shifts and high tempo had me on the edge of my seat.
From traditional New Orleans tunes to slow romantic ballads and everything in between, this session of Edinburgh Jazz Roots compiled Mike Harts legacy. This opening show was a fitting tribute to the man who founded the very festival we know and love today through his hard work and a passion for jazz.
By Sonny Neil