IF at first you do succeed, then why not try again? Aberdeen Jazz Festival held a hugely successful online event this year in its traditional March slot, exceeding all audience expectations, but the organisers were keen to bring live music back to the city.

As soon as restrictions were lifted, the festival presented saxophonist, Tommy Smith, in an extraordinary solo concert at St Machar’s Cathedral, and now the popular Jazz Festival is back for “take two”.

The second-largest jazz festival in Scotland proved live music was back, and so from September 30, an entirely new 10-day festival packed with leading jazz names will see concerts at The Blue Lamp, Queen’s Cross Church, Spin, Revolution de Cuba, Lemon Tree and Aberdeen Art Gallery.

And for all of the festival’s new online admirers, there is an online festival from October 15 to 22.


A TOTAL of 18 live concerts over the 10 days will range across jazz styles, from swing to big band; gypsy jazz to funky/soul; folk-jazz crossovers to late-night clubbing; classy jazz vocals to Latin jazz parties. The festival organisers said: “Across all of the concerts, there’s a special sense of celebration amongst the musicians – everyone involved is very excited to be playing a festival again in front of live audiences. Aberdeen Jazz Festival is delighted to welcome international musicians once again and the festival opens with one of the great European bands of today’s jazz world: pianist Espen Eriksen brings his Trio to the Blue Lamp. This will the first of 11 shows at Aberdeen’s iconic jazz club.”


PERHAPS the most poignant moments will come on the opening Friday at the Blue Lamp, when the festival salutes one of the greatest Aberdonian jazz musicians, Bill Kemp, who died in April.

Bill was a mainstay of nearly every leading Aberdeen jazz group from the 1960s to the 2020s, and a drummer who played regularly with many national and international stars. Marisha Addison, who performed with Bill for more than 40 years, will present We Love You Bill, where old and young musical colleagues will play together in different formats.


THEY include a new all-female group led by singer, violinist and broadcaster Seonaid Aitken, featuring five string players and saxophonist, Helena Kay.

Other recommended include the leading Glasgow soul-funk-nu jazz group Corto Alto; the brilliant Greek singer Irini Arabatzi, in duo with piano wunderkind Fergus McCreadie; a festival debut for the stunning piano-bass-drums Trio Nadurra; a Lemon Tree party with the irrepressible Tom McGuire and The Brassholes; a special celebration of Big Band drummers with Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra and Alyn Cosker; a new double tenor saxophone-led band featuring two of Scotland’s hottest young musicians, Matthew Kilner and Matt Carmichael; the infectious grooves of Funk Connection; and the sultry soulful vocals of Niki King with her new project, Time.


NEIL Gibbons, festival director at Aberdeen Jazz Festival, said: “In the teeth of lockdown, we began Aberdeen Jazz Festival 2021 in March with a series of digital concerts which proved very popular.

“What a pleasure to be back to complete the festival with a programme of local and international music that we know audiences will love.

“The spirit of Aberdeen Jazz Festival is very much alive and we can’t wait to get started again and welcome audiences during our brilliant festival celebrating all that’s great in live jazz.”


TICKET prices range from £5 to £15, and are available from www.aberdeenjazzfestival.com

Eleven of the concerts will be recorded for an online festival, where the complete shows will be available for a full week for a single ticket of £25, from www.aberdeenjazzfestival.com

The festival is funded by Creative Scotland and the City of Aberdeen Council. “Their support makes the event possible, and we thank them for their ongoing commitment to jazz in Aberdeen,” said a festival spokesperson.