The Scotsman Sessions #104: Brian Kellock

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts world shutting down for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, jazz pianist Brian Kellock plays two Irving Berlin standards: No Strings (I’m Fancy Free), memorably sung and danced by Fred Astaire in Top Hat, and No Business Like Show Business from Annie Get Your Gun.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 2:55 pm

In these times of doom and gloom, reckons Brian Kellock, we need more of the likes of Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin. The widely acclaimed pianist, in demand to perform and record with names as diverse as Liane Carroll, Sheila Jordan, Julian Arguelles, Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, is steeped in classic jazz and has chosen a couple of Irving Berlin standards for his Scotsman Session.

“I was in St Andrews recently and in a second-hand bookshop I picked up this book, Ninety Golden Years of Irving Berlin, although I know most of the songs anyway,” he says. Consequently, he’s chosen the songs No Strings (I’m Fancy Free, memorably sung and danced by Fred Astaire in Top Hat), and No Business Like Show Business from Annie Get Your Gun.

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“I’ve got a great album of Astaire singing songs like that with the Oscar Peterson Trio. I just thought we could do with some feel-good just now.” In fact, Kellock’s 1998 debut album with his long-time collaborators bassist Kenny Ellis and drummer John Rae, was a collection of Astaire numbers, Something’s Got To Give.

Brian Kellock

Kellock has an elegantly considered way with a good melody, which shines from his enthusiastically received solo album of last year, Bidin’ My Time, but he can also dazzle and has been working on his stride piano chops during lockdown. Once able to get back into the studio he hopes to make a duo album of vintage jazz with saxophonist and clarinettist John Burgess.

During lockdown, the pianist hasn’t done much streaming from his home in Glasgow until now – “I got bamboozled by the technology” – and finds the process of playing to an invisible audience (as he did during the recent online Glasgow Jazz festival) disheartening: “You get no feedback, no interaction with the punters, but it’s playing with other musicians that I miss most.”

For more on Brian Kellock, visit https://www.facebook.com/bkjazzpiano

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