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How one festival is keeping musicians going until live gigs return

In-person live gigs may be cancelled for now, but Glasgow Jazz Festival has found a way to continue supporting Scottish artists.

The prolonged pandemic lockdown has been particularly hard on musicians, many of whom were relying on money from now-cancelled, in-person live gigs to make ends meet.

But the Glasgow Jazz Festival has found a way to support some of the best and brightest Scottish acts – by commissioning them to create new music for an upcoming, digital edition of the festival.

Festival director Jill Rodger said: “The past 15 months have been a tough time for musicians across the board, so Glasgow Jazz Festival has been looking at new and innovative ways to support them during the pandemic.

“By putting on the digital festival, as well as streaming year-round sessions, we’ve been able to pay musicians from our local jazz scene during a time when live gigs haven’t been possible, and also open them up to a worldwide audience in the process.”

The festival premiere new work by brand new all-star band Ryan Quigley’s Homeland Sextet, critics’ favourite Fergus McCreadie Trio, award-winning nu-jazz collective corto.alto and Laura MacDonald Quartet.

The new commissions are about more than just putting money in the musicians’ pockets, said Rodger. They also allow artist and audience to process what’s been going on in the world.

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“Not only does this provide an additional income stream for the artists, it also gives them a chance to reflect on the past year when their world has been turned upside down. It’s also an exciting chance for audiences at home to experience something new that they won’t get at any other concert,” she added.

Leading Scottish saxophonist and composer Laura MacDonald – who is also known for her culinary skills, having recently made it through to the final of BBC’s Masterchef – has chosen to celebrate the strength of spirit she sees in the musical community.

Her piece is optimistically titled ‘We’re OK’.

“I wanted to write something with a positive vibe” MacDonald said. “The spirit within musicians is really strong and I know that when we have the opportunity to play music together that we are ok – hence the title! Music makes everything better.”

The Glasgow Jazz Festival runs from June 18-20. For more information see jazzfest.co.uk

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