Jazzing up the Kingdom...

Ian Siegal
Ian Siegal

Jazz takes centre stage in Fife with a host of top names playing concerts across the Kingdom next week.

Fife Jazz Festival takes place over the weekend from February 7-9 in theatres, colleges, hotels, pubs and arts centres throughout the region.

The Red Stripe Band.' 'Photo: Lorcan Doherty Photography

The Red Stripe Band.' 'Photo: Lorcan Doherty Photography

Although the whole Kingdom is involved in the programme, this year a bumper number of concerts will take place in St Andrews, where festival organisers have arranged for the Byre Theatre to be re-opened for the first time since its closure a year ago.

The seven concert programme at The Byre will be headlined by The Big Chris Barber Band, making a rare outing in such an intimate venue.

Barber and his band, will also feature at Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall.

Joe Stilgoe, the outstanding jazz and cabaret singer comes to the stage fresh from five star success at the Edinburgh Fringe, with his new show, ‘Songs on Film’.

Also among the programme for the St Andrews venue is Stephanie Trick, who makes her first trip to Fife.

The American musician is the new star of early jazz piano styles and will play both in Dunfermline and in North East Fife.

Other highlights for the weekend include a rare collaboration between original Average White Band members when ex-AWB lead singer Hamish Stuart and his band get together with sax star, Molly Duncan.

There’s also a blues programme that features the multi-award winning Ian Siegal, and Scotland’s top Blues Band, Bluesn’ Trouble.

The ever popular ‘The Big Dance’ returns to Rothes Halls where the Scottish Swing Orchestra plays strictly for dancing.

It’s a great chance for dancers to enjoy dancing to a live Big Band and with such a huge dancefloor and a terrific atmosphere.

Festival favourites Red Stripe Band also return to the Kingdom and bring their infectious brand of boogie-woogie, swing, blues and jump jive to the Adam Smith Theatre.

As well as the big names, the festival will once again show its support for Fife jazz talent.

This year among those talented locals taking part over the weekend are the Woodmill High School Jazz Band from Dunfermline, who are playing Carnegie Hall in a double header with ex-Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra violin star, Charlie Stewart and his group.

Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra themselves will play a concert at the Craws Nest in Anstruther, which will also feature a set by singer, Angie King.

In a first for the festival, the leading players in FYJO, The FYJO Combo, will play some jazz classics at Cupar’s renowned blues club, opening the show for Bluesn’Trouble.

This year it’s not just about the young musicians as other Fifers get involved in the programme too.

A concert will take place in Newburgh featuring local multi-instrumentalist Dave Ford, who is a special guest with Dave Watt’s Diminished Fifth Jazz Band.

The hugely successful concert by Inverkeithing Community Big Band at the Bay Hotel in Kinghorn is set to be repeated, again with Margaret Douglass directing and with Australian trombonist, Chris Grieve, as guest soloist.

And Fife-based modern jazz group, Strangeness and Charm, led by saxophonist, Richard Ingham, will play.

For 2014, Fife Jazz Festival also presents three of Scotland’s most popular current bands, all of whom have artistically exciting new takes on jazz history: Nova Scotia Jazz Band bring their classis ‘traditional jazz to swing’ programme to Freuchie; Alison Affleck and Vieux Carre mine the tin pan alley songbook for their show in St Michaels and there’s a concert in Aberdour that also features top Glenrothes singer, Grace Black.

Colin Steele’s new Chet Baker show, with singer Iain Ewing, will play a Sunday lunchtime slot at the Byre.

However for the organisers there’s one particular band they are excited to present.

John Burgess will lead a new group playing beautiful ballads, blues and soul classics with his gorgeous tenor saxophone sound.

This is for audiences who love the classics played by a master of the instrument who will put melody, taste, sound and musicality before individual soloing prowess - ‘So In Love’ will play the St Andrews’ theatre on February 7.

Fife Jazz Festival is a collaborative promotion by Jazz Scotland and Fife Cultural Trust.

Roger Spence, Jazz Scotland director told the Press: “ Last year, we spent most of the Festival dealing with the closure of The Byre a few days before we started.

“This year, we’re on the front foot, and we have a programme packed with acts that will appeal to a wide audience – well beyond the hard core jazz fan. We expect it to be our busiest Festival to date.”

Evan Henderson, programme manager for Fife Cultural Trust, said: “ This is the seventh year that we have collaborated with Jazz Scotland in presenting Fife Jazz Festival and every year the Festival brings out the crowds and makes Fife into a hive of exciting jazz and blues activity.

“This year’s programme is no exception. Jazz is most definitely ON in Fife in February.”