Nordic fiddles and all that jazz

editorial image
Share this article

Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre has a musical week ahead, with jazz duo Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock tonight (October 23), and a Scandinavian-Scottish fiddle trio next Wednesday.

The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, who play next week (October 29) at 7.30pm, feature fiddle players Anders Hall from Sweden, Norwegian Olav Luksengård Mjelva and Kevin Henderson of Shetland.

Norway, Sweden and Shetland have three of the richest fiddling traditions in the world, as well as many well documented historical links going back hundreds of years. The Eastgate’s Liz Taylor writes: “It is refreshing to see these links being rectified in the musical collaboration, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc.

“They have blended three individual styles from these three Nordic regions, but they still allow their three distinct flavours to come through in a sound that is unique, meaningful, intense and invigorating.”

The collaboration was the brainchild of Anders Hall, whose hunch proved to be correct after the musicians first began exchanging musical thoughts with each other in Voss in May 2009.

Liz added: “From the first note that was played, they realised this was a collaboration that had to continue, such was the feeling of excitement and respect for each other’s playing and traditions.”

Individually, they are regarded as three of the finest young fiddle players currently working in the international folk music scene, and now collectively, they find themselves increasingly in demand across the world. Recent high-profile appearances include the Fiddles on Fire Festival in the Sage, Gateshead; the Baltimore Fiddle Fair in Ireland; Celtic Connections and the Shetland Folk Festival.

Tickets cost £14 (£5 schoolchildren).

Tonight at 7.30pm, jazz musicians Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock will also perform tracks from their three CDs – Bezique, Symbiosis and The Whispering of the Stars, which feature the great American and European song book.

Brian is widely regarded as one of the UK’s finest jazz pianists. Stylistically, he aligns himself with figures such as Oscar Peterson or Monty Alexander, but he is equally at home in mainstream and contemporary jazz styles.

Tommy is an international recording artist, composer and arranger of extraordinary ambition and, not least, a jazz educator. He is a leading light in European jazz, first and foremost as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, and latterly as the founder and current director of The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO).

Born in ’67, his prolific career began in earnest when, aged only 16, he recorded his first album, Giant Strides. His reward was a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, which shaped his affirmative approach to jazz. Since then, he’s made 26 solo albums as a leader for Blue Note, Linn and his own label, Spartacus Records.

Tommy’s tenure with the SNJO has seen acclaimed performances and recordings of programmed and commissioned works, including treatments of Ellington, Gershwin, Weather Report and Miles Davis. He is also founder/director of The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and is current artistic director of the first full-time jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS). He also holds three honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt, Glasgow Caledonian and Edinburgh Universities, and a professorship from the RCS.

Tickets cost £15 (£5).