A hot spot for jazz in Scotland at the moment centred on the Blue Lamp the line-up of the Aberdeen Jazz Festival is: Roo and Neil, Maridalen, Martin Kershaw Octet and Rachel Duns Duo, Atom Eyes, SNJO's Peter and the Wolf, Son Al Son Feat. Tania Fahey Palma & Melodie Fraser, Seb Rochford and Kit Downes, Georgia Cécile & Fraser Urquhart, Kyla Brox, Dee Don Danube, The Vintage Girls Orchestral Spectacular, Remembering Chet, Raf Ferrari Quartet, Dock in Absolute / Dave Milligan Solo, Rhyme Lounge Sessions, Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band, Soundbath, Jazz The Day, Fergus McCreadie and Matt Carmichael, Magro, Funk Connection, Mary May - Best of Billie Holiday, Tim Kliphuis Jazz Four Seasons and Torus.
Seb Rochford who is from Abderdeen readers will be familiar with the recent A Short Diary our pick of the month for January that finds Kit Downes as guide and interpreter of Rochford's compositions and is far less oblique than he can be - and certainly last year's wonderful Vermillion is a completely different aspect to his artistry - and it is fascinating the clarity that Rochford's musical lines delineate. 'Ten Of Us' - Rochford is one of 10 brothers and sisters - is the most significant of the pieces and the drummer is very good here and elsewhere at stealthily entering the musical scene after Downes clears and explains somehow melding serenity with a painterly Debussy like impressionism in some passages expert at creating not just the ultimate culminating note but contributing meaningfully to its if you like after-note meaning via cadential weight and sheer empathy. The album was recorded at Rochford’s childhood home in Scotland and again sense of place is significant here given how often distance from things we hold dear can be such an obstacle even more psychological than physical.
Maridalen from Norway impressed us most of all with their 2021 self titled debut which had almost rockabilly double bass once you get into it with a sort of a Jimmy Giuffre-type atmosphere hard baked into the ambience to boot. Bortenfor the follow-up we didn't quite like as much but it still resonated given the high conceptual level the band achieves. The presence of trumpet - it's Pixel's Jonas Kilmork Vemøy no less - is almost an afterthought because the Maridalen sound is greater than the sum of the parts and is a collective unity. From Norway the band sound as if they were born in a jazz club and yet they made that particular ground breaking first album in a church. Dates are 16-26 March. Website
Seb Rochford, above. Maridalen, main photo