The monthly jazz gigs at this north Edinburgh venue are becoming increasingly popular with locals, perhaps as the church hall setting acquires greater familiarity to a jazz-going audience. Of course, what matters most is that Jazz at St James is hosting, in this middle-sized concert space, some really excellent Scottish music.
Last month the Kevin McKenzie Trio, channelling Bill Frisell, was hosted here, whilst next month (on Saturday 16 November), piano – sax duo, New Focus Duo will re-visit with their lyrical jazz-classical. Riches indeed.
But tonight it was the turn of the youthful Fergus McCreadie Trio (FMT) who played a lovely, mature – beyond – their – years set to a full house.
McCreadie composed most of the tunes tonight, other than an evolved piece by double bassist David Bowden, who was BBC Young Scottish Musician of the Year 2017, nowadays leader of energetic world music – jazz group, Mezcla.
Tonight’s concert consisted mostly of McCreadie tunes from the band’s 2018 award-wining debut album, TURAS, his signature Celtic jazz beginning as a still, small voice, gradually building to high-speed, thunderous climaxes before resolving serenely. The newest tunes – some as yet un-named and hopefully to appear on the next FMT album due out in early 2019 – were noticeably richer and no less melodious than the earlier ones.
To this listener there is a quintessential Scottishness to McCreadie’s compositions, related to the Celtic lyricism but also to the wide-ranging emotional intensity. The pianism is evolving fast and his much-vaunted star quality is emerging too in his band mates, Bowden and dynamic drummer Stephen Henderson. Already gigging overseas, this is a band well worth keeping an eye on.