Events Diary 23
Norman Willmore Norman Willmore is an enigma, wrapped in a stupendous talent. He describes himself on his Instagram as “a musician born on the kitchen floor in the Shetland Islands and now living in Glasgow.” He’s much more than that. We’ve watched him grow and blossom here in Shetland. From an early age he was a fundamental part of the local jazz scene, on the committee of Shetland Jazz Club, forming and playing terrific stuff in bands such as Troppo Funk. Moving to Cardiff to study jazz at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he further grew and was at the heart of the jazz scene, setting up and curating many of the gigs in the city centre. From Cardiff to Glasgow and his music flourished to the stage where he was being spoken of as “the rising star of Scottish jazz”. He has developed a unique style, effortlessly blending jazz with traditional Scottish, Scandinavian and Appalachian folk music, often invoking the landscape of Scotland. With his distinctive quartet his latest album 'Alive & Well at The Muckle Roe Hall', delivers ballads and jigs with energy and exuberance. Norman was recently nominated for the rising star of Scottish jazz award and described it as a “huge surprise”. “I’m super excited to be nominated alongside so many talented people, who are also friends,” he said. “I really did not know it was going to happen, so came as a huge surprise. “The awards are a great thing for jazz in Scotland, and I encourage everyone to listen and check out all the nominees and vote for your favourites.” Reviewing the Norman Willmore Quartet playing music from the album, Patrick Had field said: “Not quite but almost as far north as you can go in the British Isles is Muckle Roe. Famously nearer Norway than Edinburgh, Shetland is a long way off the beaten track for most jazz bands, and whilst national orchestras might make it to Lerwick, I imagine few get as far as Muckle Roe. Still, saxophonist Norman Willmore is a local, and that is where he took his band to make this live recording. Gigs in such places always have a special atmosphere, and this recording captures the mood: opening with a pipe-like pibroch from Willmore’s alto which becomes increasingly free until it breaks down into a full jazz-jig, the band deliver a dose of ceilidh culture that would be right at home in any highland community. The quartet blow up a storm of vigorous energy to match the westerlies blowing in off the north Atlantic. But the band have the chops and imagination to bring together a rich blend of Nordic influences, Scots traditional music, Appalachian tunes with a full-on jazz sensibility. There are quieter, more introspective moments, too, such as the slow, mournful ballad Sip Sorrow From The Cup, which segues into the exhilarating closing track, Red Prairie Dawn.” Norman has played some prestigious gigs at Celtic Connections and latterly joined the Peatbog Faeries, an instrumental Celtic fusion band from the Isle of Skye, whose music embodies many styles and influences, including folk, electronica, African pop, rock and jazz, although their main influence is traditional Celtic music. He’s coming with that band to play at the Tall Ships extravaganza. For our season, he’s playing at the Islesburgh Centre on Saturday 25 February, alongside Norman Goudie, John Johnson, Renzo Spiteri and Joy Duncan. Should be some gig.

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Shetland JAWS (formerly Shetland Jazz Club)

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