Published: 30 July, 2008
NAIRN Festival, which this year runs from August 2 to August 7, makes no bones about how it organises its annual event programme – if the audience has loved a gig or an artist then they are brought back for more! And trumpeters take the centre stage throughout this year’s event.
And despite funding cash being short and airfare soaring, a full programme of American stars have been lined up.
Duke Heitger has been on the bill with Evan Christopher for a number of years – but this year he flies into the event to take residence for the whole Festival and feature in all sorts of new line-ups – including introducing fellow New Orlean vocalist Topsy Chapman for his Paddleboat shuffle, and for the first time in the Festival programme, Engelbert Wrobel on clarinet, for an interesting History of Jazz.
He has also brought in a red-hot selection of other horns including Randy Reinhart (cornet/trumpet) and Bill Allred (trombone) – in the Wild Bill Davidson Legacy Band. Australia’s finest Bob Barnard (trumpet), performs together with Reinhart and Jon-Erik Kellso (cornet/trumpet) in the Nairn Trumpet Summit and the later as a special guest of the Swedish Jazz Kings, adding a fresh note as they both make Nairn Festival debuts.
And even on a more reflective note… the death of cornet legend Ruby Braff in 2003 has not stopped this year’s event recalling his now historic final live performance in Nairn 2002. Ruby opened the first ever Festival of Food and Jazz as it was then billed in 1990 and it is his long-time friend Scott Hamilton (who also featured in the programme that year) who pays tribute to him along with John Bunch, piano and Dave Green, bass, reprising their roles, and US cornet player Jon-Erik Kellso – in what is set to be one of the usual flagship exclusive concerts within a slightly more humble, but yet packed, programme.
The Knockomie Hote, one of the staunchest supporters of the jazz festival in Forres, will again be hosting a concert. The Classic Jazz Quintet, featuring Bent Persson on lead trumpet and special guest Dan Barrett on trombone, will be playing a late night concert, starting at 9.30pm, on Tuesday, August 5.
Funding has been much more difficult this year and along with late awards and the soaring cost of US airfares, which make the budgets even tighter than usual, the organisation decided to be a bit more frugal and invest in what it could deliver well, rather than continue on the wider development and growth plan of the last few years.
But even this did not stop organiser Ken Ramage revisiting his own personal highlight concert of 2007, which featured pianist Larry Fuller, and with the support of The Davidson Trust, he has managed to bring him back for another exclusive, the Nairn International Piano Trio line-up featuring Nairn’s favourite bassist Andy Cleyndert and Basie drummer Butch Miles.
Ken said: “We have received continued significant local sponsor support from Hawco Volkswagen and Gordon Timber and decided to go ahead with what I am billing as a reflective programme, filled with the essential elements that have become synonymous with the brand style now known as Ramage Jazz.”
Of course the key to making any event a success is not only the programming but ticket sales and the event is hoping that along with its loyal audience, now from all across the UK, it will hit the right note with locals when it strongly needs their support.