Fergus McCreadie Spotlight 26 Sep 2019
Fergus McCreadie has achieved a lot by the young age of twenty-two, having just reached the shortlist for the Scottish Album of the Year Awards for his album Tarus. Being a strong force in the every-growing young Jazz scene it made perfect sense for Fergus to take on the curating of Gallus- A Scottish Jazz Weekend.
We caught up with Fergus at our own Jazz School, held at St.Bride’s Centre to get his thoughts on the upcoming events!
You’ve Created the Programme for Gallus, which means Bold and Daring, Would you say this title reflects the overall programme and the over Scottish jazz scene at the moment?
I would say that Gallus as a word- Bold and Daring- definitely can be used to describe the Scottish jazz scene, there’s definitely a lot of innovation happening in the Scottish Jazz Scene at the moment. There’s definitely and lots of bands actually combining other types of music with Jazz, which is where the really interesting stuff I think, happens for me. I think this programme for the Scottish Jazz Weekend reflects the breath of all that experimentation. So hopefully bold and daring is representative.
What did you have in mind when you curated the program?
Most important to me in the programme is that all aspects of the scene were represented. For such a small scene it is actually very deep the different levels that you get. Some people are very traditional Jazz players, some people like Jazz that is very hard and free and fast, some people play Jazz that’s very introspective and sparse. It is actually really challenging curating a suitable line-up so that every corner is touched upon.
You’ve reached a 1,100 monthly listeners on Spotify, congratulations for that, where do you think live performance stands in the age of streaming and social media?
I mean I think this different between recorded music and performed music is always going to be the same no matter how we consume music. First it was LPs then it was tapes, CDs and now it’s online data. No matter how easy it is to access live music it doesn’t change the fact that music is something that you experience live and definitely that’s true of Jazz. There’s no way to capture that live intensity of being in a room and hearing music created on the spot than n a record. Live performance is just better, it always will be.
As an organisation we are continuously striving to encourage the cross over of generations on stage, such as your collaboration with Tommy Smith at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, from a musicians’ perspective why do you think this is important?
I think cross-generational collaboration is actually hard to pin down [in terms of] why that is exciting. I mean you’ve got a concert like Colin Steele and Michael Butcher, you’ve got someone like Colin who has been playing for a long time and is a Stall worth of the Scottish Jazz scene coming at his playing from a really mature angle but then you’ve got that real freshness of Michael Butcher. He’s in the young scene, plays in Mezcla and Fat Suit occasionally, he’s comes it from that exciting way. Both of them embody different types of bold and daring, maybe Colin a bit more of an experienced one but Michael’s a sort of exciting, fresh way of being bold and daring. There’s just a space there between the generations for exciting things to happen I think.
Apart from performing and curating our programme you have also been involved in the Jazz School, which will be hosting a showcase as part of the weekend on Saturday 19th, what have the students been preparing for this event?
What we emphasise most in the Jazz school is this idea that playing is fun, it’s not like really heavy theory classes or anything. You know no one goes home crying because it’s really difficult or brutal or nasty, it’s just meant to be a safe space for people to have fun and people to enjoy playing and I think that’s what you’ll se if you come to see this showcase gig of Jazz School students, you’ll se people having fun, people taking chances and people getting play with other people which I think is the most important thing.
You feature on Luca Manning’s new release ‘When the sun comes out’, being performed at St. Brides on the 19th with Laura MacDonald, what was it like working with Luca on this project?
Working with Luca was an absolute dream, it was so easy. We finished the record and we had like four-five hours more recording time. So we actually recorded a bunch more takes on things, and those takes ended up being on the album as well. Me and Luca have been playing together for a long time and it kind of feels normal and natural to be playing with him. It kind of becomes easy, it’s not like we have to force anything or rehearse to get the chemistry working, it just works as musicians I think.
Can you share some final reflections on the state of the current Scottish Jazz scene?
The most interesting thing about the Scottish Jazz scene is the sheer volume of new music, which is being written at the moment. There are so many bands and the moment doing really cool, interesting new things. I think it really punches above it’s weight as a Jazz scene maybe compared to other Jazz scenes just at the amount of daring creativity, which goes on here. The level of musicianship is really astounding as well, I sometimes watch gigs of my fellow musicians, my friends and I think “my friends are absolutely killing it!”. I think the more things like this happen, The Scottish Jazz Weekend and the infrastructures and audiences start to support these musicians, the more music I think we can expect to see.
Why do you think everyone should come to Gallus- A Scottish Jazz Weekend?
I think everyone should come to Gallus because it is very exciting to have an entire festival just dedicated to this new wave of really exciting music that’s happening. There’s not that many places that you’ll get this concentrated a level of one scene working together towards a similar shared creative destiny.
Fergus McCreadie will be playing live at Gallus- A Scottish Jazz Weekend on Saturday 19th October together with Luca Manning presenting their new release “When the Sun comes out” together with Laura MacDonald. This will be followed by a performance showcasing Fergus’ love for traditional Scottish folk music blended with Jazz where Charlie Stewart will join him.