Okay, I suppose this is what happens when you don’t post anything on your own website for 22 months, but much has happened in that time and there’s a lot to tell…
First up, String Sisters. I’ve been playing with this group since 2001. Our first concert was at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival and while the gigs have been somewhat sporadic over the years that followed (only 4 of the 10 musicians in the band live in Scotland; the rest are scattered between Sweden, Norway, Ireland and the US), things have been a little busier of late. Last year, we recorded our 2nd album, Between Wind And Water – it was released in February of this year, and we’re off out to do some gigs to celebrate:
May 24-27: Orkney Folk Festival (tickets & info)
May 29: Eden Court Theatre, Inverness (tickets & info)
May 30: Queens Hall, Edinburgh (tickets & info)
May 31: Cecil Sharp House, London (tickets & info)
Next is the Colin Steele Quintet. This is also a group I’ve been playing with for the best part of 20 years. Last year saw the release of the quintet’s 4th album Even In The Darkest Places, and joining Colin and the ever-present-yours-truly are Michael Buckley (saxophones), Calum Gourlay (bass) and Stu Ritchie (drums). You can hear and/or buy the album here, or hear the story behind the recording in Colin’s own words by watching the video.
We did some beautiful gigs last month in Scotland, mainly west coast but with an appearance at Aberdeen Jazz Festival to boot. We have one more coming up in the Edinburgh Jazz Festival on July 21st… you know what to do.
Shortly after making Even In The Darkest Places, I went in to the studio with Colin again to make a quartet album, this time with Calum Gourlay on bass and Alyn Cosker on Drums. The result was Colin Steele Quartet Diving For Pearls.
Colin was approached by the Marina record label to consider recording an album of jazz versions of the songs of the Pearlfishers. He’d actually played on many sessions with them before, and shares many similar tastes in music with the Pearlfishers’ David Scott. The original brief was to record with Colin’s quintet, but he was quickly very sure that he didn’t hear the sound of saxophone as part of this project.
Colin and I talked through how the arrangements might work, then spent an afternoon playing through the tunes. All of the guys in the band are extremely busy, so we only found one afternoon to run through these tunes as a group, before going in to record for a single day. We recorded 2 takes of pretty much everything and almost every tune that ended up on the album was the 2nd take, with the exception of ‘You’ll Never Steal my Spirit’ which came out great on the first time of playing. It’s an album I like very much; you can get it from the usual outlets (iTunes, Amazon etc) – go check it out.
We’ll be playing the music of this album at Glasgow Jazz Festival on June 21st. See you there? Wonderful.
One other thing I’ve been meaning to post about for a while is a project that’s a little outside my normal world… Produced by The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and The Old Vic, London, I’m very excited to be working as music supervisor on the world premiere of Local Hero, a musical stage production based on the hit 1983 film of the same name. With the stage adaptation and book co-written by The Lyceum’s Artistic Director David Greig, the production will bring together some of Scotland’s greatest artistic talents, including multi-award winning director and writer Bill Forsyth, and acclaimed composer and producer Mark Knopfler – founder of internationally celebrated band Dire Straits, whose album Brothers in Arms is one of the top 20 highest selling albums in UK history. It’s been a hugely enjoyable experience working with Mark on the original score over the last few years, and it’s finally all starting to come together!
The Lyceum’s Artistic Director David Greig says:
“Local Hero is one of those great Scottish stories that has captured the imaginations of people across the world, it has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it as a teenager.
To have the chance to revisit these wonderful characters to help create a musical is an absolute delight, but to be working alongside Bill Forsyth and Mark Knopfler to bring this to The Lyceum and Old Vic stages is a dream come true –it really feels like the stars have aligned!”
The Old Vic’s Artistic Director Matthew Warchus says:
“Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero is high on my list of all-time favourite films. I have watched and re-watched it many, many times and never tire of its perfect mixture of situation comedy and romance, combined with a strong and important message. I’m absolutely delighted to be collaborating with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and this first-class creative team on what promises to be an unmissable stage adaptation.”
Local Hero is due to open at The Lyceum in Spring 2019 before transferring to The Old Vic.