Meet the Edinburgh Jazz Festival stars inspired by David Bowie, Joni Mitchell and Radiohead

OFTEN rock and jazz seem like opposite ends of a spectrum, but a few of the concerts at this year’s Jazz & Blues Festival show that for many musicians, crossing over is where it’s at.

Monday, 8th July 2019, 3:49 pm
David Bowie
Pic: Jo Hale/Getty Images
David Bowie Pic: Jo Hale/Getty Images

Bowie famously recruited saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s band as collaborators on Blackstar, but then his musical life started with a choice “to be a rock’n’roll singer or John Coltrane”.

He explained, “When I first came into the business it was as a jazz musician”.

So perhaps it’s not surprising he turned to a jazz combo at the end”. The collaboration turned McCaslin’s life around too. Now I feel empowered to “just let my creative imagination go… just to see where that creativity would take me”.

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McCaslin’s new band with singer, Jeff Taylor, are “taking cues from their former boss. See them on 18 July, at Teviot Row.

Joni Mitchell’s collaborations with jazz musicians are well known. Mitchell describes her music as more “art than hit”. It’s this sense of melody and freedom of interpretation that has attracted trumpeter Colin Steele to pay homage to the singer at this year’s Festival.

Steele is attracted to the work of pop/rock musicians as they offer a fresh challenge to the jazz standards.

Audiences can hear what he makes of Chelsea Morning, Big Yellow Taxi and the like when his quartet, with pianist Dave Milligan, play George Square Spiegeltent on 17 July.

Like A Cat Tied to A Stick, a new group of emerging talent under the baton of guitarist Dorian Cloudsley, play jazzed up versions of Radiohead tunes.

Cloudsley explores, “...the endless potential for creative re-interpretation that Radiohead’s music allows, using a full horn section and three vocalists”.

They play at Piccolo on Sunday 21 July.

The connection between rock and jazz can also be seen elsewhere at the Festival; Kenny Wayne Shepherd has played with Brian May; former AWB singer, Hamish Stuart is famed for his work with Paul McCartney; and Maggie Bell who sang with many rock stars including Rod Stewart, is now one of the biggest selling acts at the Festival -her show on Saturday 20 July is already sold out.

For full details of the 2019 festival visit