10 young musicians to watch for at Edinburgh Jazz Festival

MORE than ever Scotland can boast a host of talented young players these days causing one critic to suggest we have a jazz hotbed approaching New York proportions. Here are some of the new and intriguing new faces emerging onto the scene and worth watching out for at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2019.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 1:05 pm
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival champions Young Scottish musicians -Fergus McCreadie.

Fergus McCreadie Trio

This young pianist is making waves all over Europe from being a finalist on BBC Young Musician of the year to touring across Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania, and taking part in Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio festival this August.

Fergus says, “concerts of other people’s original music have been the biggest learning curve for me - for some reason, most Scottish musicians write really hard music.”

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Fergus’s unique music weaves folk influences into jazz “communicating warmth of personality and the ability both to convey a sense of place and landscape and make a melancholy phrase somehow spiritually uplifting”.

His trio comprises David Bowden (bass) and Stephen Henderson (drums) and excitingly they are talking about recording a second album.

See then: Friday 12 July,7.30pm at Teviot Row

Matt Carmichael

Saxophonist Matt Carmichael is making waves on the jazz scene. Jazzwise named him ‘One to Watch’ and Tommy Smith describes him as ‘world class’.

Matt started playing the saxophone aged 11 and grew up playing in bands such as the East Dumbartonshire Schools Jazz Orchestra, NYJOS, TSYJO, explaining “jazz was introduced to me by my teacher at the time, baritone saxophonist Allon Beauvoison”.

Increasingly promoters are sitting up and taking note and this year he will be performing in London at Pizza Express.

See him: Saturday 13 July,7.30pm at Teviot Row


Combining elements of noise-rock, experimental hip-hop and jazz delivered with punk energy on stage, saxophonist Harry Weir’s band AKU! follows the path set by Shabaka Hutchings, Fela Kuti and Young Fathers.

He grew up listening to James Brown, Average White Band.

First jazz album I heard was probably ‘Miles Ahead’ when I was around three or four - my dad is a big Miles fan.

“I started paying jazz around age 14, taught by Paul Towndrow, joined various youth big bands and formed my first band “The Cosmonaut Arkestra”.

After studying in Birmingham, Harry returned to Scotland joined Graham Costello’s STRATA and formed AKU!.

See them: Friday 19 July, 8.30pm at The Jazz Bar

Georgia Cécile

One of the sparkling young voices on the jazz scene today, singer Georgia Cécile, is inspired by a range of musical influences including Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder.

A powerful onstage presence and adept lyrical interpreter with tremendous tonal command, Cécile’s mature delivery belies her young age.

From studying music at Napier University she says, “I immersed myself in jazz music, spending many hours observing the masters. I learnt the ropes playing with musicians on the scene, it took many years to develop my craft.

“The ultimate goal for me is connection - if I can send people some place through a song, then I’ve succeeded in my art.”

Now she is joined by a stellar sextet featuring writing partner Euan Stevenson on piano, Mario Caribe on bass, Max Popp on drums, Konrad Wiszniewski on saxophone and Colin Steele on trumpet as she features material from her forthcoming debut album alongside well loved standards.

See them: Saturday 20 July, 8pm at Assembly Hall


Led by bass player, David Bowden who says, “Mezcla (which means mixture) comes from a desire to mix all my musical influences into one project, so there’s jazz, funk, rock, folk, world music and everything in between.

“I spent some time studying in Ghana in 2017 and that West-African influence has ended up being a big part of the Mezcla sound too”.

David is also a member of Fergus McCreadie Trio.

See them: Tuesday 16 July, 8.30pm at Piccolo

Bernadette Kellermann Colourworks

Violinist, Kellermann blends Scottish folk music, contemporary classical music, jazz and minimalism into contemporary soundscapes which The Fountain described as “truly transcendent”.

Kellermann is a founder of the contemporary folk trio Farrland and a member of the award-winning jazz/funk/folk collective Fat-Suit.

To realise her musical vision for Colourworks she has enlisted the services of some of the finest young musicians in the Glasgow jazz scene, including Fergus McCreadie (piano), Mark Hendry (double bass) and Graham Costello (drums).

See them: Monday 15 July, 6pm at The Jazz Bar

Jed Potts & the Hillman Hunters

“Blues is my musical first-language and it infuses everything I play. Even when I’m playing with The Katet or Thunkfish the blues is always there. I don’t think I could hide it even if I wanted to.”

Jed started playing the guitar aged nine and performed his first gig at 16.

In 2015 Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival sent Jed to the US to seek out blues musicians. He met and worked with stellar harmonica player Brandon Santini creating a musical partnership that continues today – with Jed travelling to America last year to guest on Brandon’s latest album.

The Hillman Hunters repertoire ranges from 1950s and early 60s blues classics and original material.

See them: Concert: Saturday 20 July, 5pm at Teviot Row

Cat Loud

Music is in singer Cat Loud’s blood.

She comes from Mull, sang in the primary school’s gaelic choir and her grandfather was accordionist Bobby MacLeod.

She is a born performer too, “I love theatricality, satire, mingling with an audience and finding that fine balance between comedy and pathos”.

Since graduating she has worked with Finn Anderson on the Fringe and performed with Blueswater.

She’s always loved jazz and now steps centre stage fronting two bands at EJBF and paying homage to the great singers that have gone before including Billie Holiday, Chet Baker and Melody Gardot.

See The Cat Loud Duo: Thursday 18 July, 8.30pm at Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre

See The Cat Loud Quartet: Sunday 21 July, 6pm at The Jazz Bar

Graham Costello’s Strata

Powerhouse drummer, Graham Costello, fronts one of the most exciting bands on the Scottish scene.

Clash Magazine describes their music as “startling, groundbreaking...it explodes definitions to seize fresh space” and it’s also hugely popular as CD and ticket sales from their debut album Obelisk confirm.

He started drumming aged just six and he explains “I think I’ve taken quite a different path to the jazz scene compared to others. I came up playing in the Glasgow independent/underground scene with my noise rock guitar-drums duo Young Philadelphia, then later on with electro-psych band Outblinker. I believe the way I play my instrument and the way I write music is very much in keeping with these jazz and experimental backgrounds coming together”.

As well as playing with his standard quintet, for EJBF, Graham is also adding a hand-picked string quartet in the STRATA Expanded Project.

Strata includes Fergus McCreadie, Joe Williamson, Liam Shortall, Harry Weir and Mark Hendry.

See Graham Costello’s Strata: Saturday 13 July, 7.30pm at Teviot Row

See Strata Expanded: Saturday 20 July, 7.30pm at Teviot Row

Nicole Smit

Smit’s star is in ascendant... She fronts several bands including Queen’s of The Blues, Cow Cow Boogie but for Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival she has created a new show, the eponymously titled Nicole Smit.

“The show is going to be about how the blues inspired my career, how the female artists that inspired me found their space and how they inspired me to find my space in the industry.

“There will be elements from older Queens of Blues shows and then new songs that I have chosen myself this year and new arrangements of a couple originals”. T

his show represents a coming of age for Smit, who recollects, ”I was incredibly shy and self-consciousness as a child and a young person due to my brachial plexus injury which I’ve had since birth. I was reluctant to have anyone pay attention to me because I was painfully aware that I wasn’t perfect. This was my biggest fear as I took the stage for the first time but I faced my fears and slowly accepted myself as I am and not as I thought I should be.”

The music will be powerful just like the singer.

See her: Friday 19 July, 7.30pm at Teviot Row

Tickets for all gigs are now on sale from 0131-473 2000 or The Hub, Castlehill. For full details of the Festival (12-21 July) programme visit www.edinburghjazzfestival.com