Fergus McCreadie, Sketches, Edition ****

As a succinct snapshot of what Fergus McCreadie is all about, Sketches, the pianist's first solo piano release is ideal. You get the optimism, flow and bright, folk dappled lilting facility that the Scot does so well that has in part catapulted him …

Published: 26 Nov 2023. Updated: 3 months.

As a succinct snapshot of what Fergus McCreadie is all about, Sketches, the pianist's first solo piano release is ideal. You get the optimism, flow and bright, folk dappled lilting facility that the Scot does so well that has in part catapulted him in recent awards-laden years to the pinnacle of jazz piano in the UK. You also gain a solo version of 'Glade,' from McCreadie's Mercury shortlisted album Forest Floor. In a word - wonderful.

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Emma Johnson's Gravy Boat, Northern Flame ***1/2

On tour at the moment Leeds saxophonist Emma Johnson, inspired by stories of Northern women, stakes her claim as a composer just as much as an instrumentalist here - this studio album recorded in Wales has a sound that factors in strong guitar from …

Published: 26 Nov 2023. Updated: 3 months.

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On tour at the moment Leeds saxophonist Emma Johnson, inspired by stories of Northern women, stakes her claim as a composer just as much as an instrumentalist here - this studio album recorded in Wales has a sound that factors in strong guitar from Fergus Vickers and a solidly grounded rhythm section in which Richard Jones on piano nudges the often wistful and poignantly bittersweet material into spaces you wouldn't expect the direction to be. Johnson's themes are stately and weighty, an anthemic feeling coming through as the ideas coalesce into a group sound.