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Nova Scotia Jazz band

A truly unique experience, Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival is a festival devoted to the finer things in life, jazz and whiskey. Using the whole of Hebridean island as a stage, the island hosts over 17 concerts across 3 days. The festival takes place Friday 14th September - Sunday 16th September 2012 so there is still plenty of time to plan your trip - we guarantee you won’t regret it.

The unusual and atmospheric setting of Islay provides the perfect backdrop to the high quality artistic programme, enticing a diverse and eccentric crowd, including photographers and golfers, to anglers and of course, whiskey enthusiasts! Although housing a small population, Islay holds no fewer than eight whiskey distilleries so whatever your taste, you’re sure to find a whiskey to suit you. Lagavulin, makers of the festivals official whiskey, marks the spot of a special place for fans of this distinctive single malt Scotch. The distillery is housed on a small, romantic site by the sea, just across from the ruins of Dunyvaig Castle. The intensity of the malt comes from the heavily peated barley from the Port Ellen Maltings; the four traditionally-shaped copper stills; a leisurely fermentation and distillation regime, followed by a long maturation of 16 years in refill American oak - we promise it’s worth the wait!

The festival hosts a diverse and exciting mix of acts and this years offering doesn’t disappoint. Friday includes, the Neil Cowley Trio, self confessed ‘Jazz for Radiohead fans’, makers of high energy shows with the drive of rock and surging dynamics of dance music; Mario Caribe Jazz Bossa with Special Guest Miriam Aida featuring laid back rhythms, sultry vocals and chilled saxophone, plus an all-star band including Paul Harrison on piano; and Fredrik Kronkvist Quartet, one of today’s most exciting alto saxophonists playing delightful melodies and catchy tunes with soul, blues and groove.

Saturday features, Laura Macdonald and Kevin Mackenzie, Konrad Wiszniewski and Pascal Schumacher, a double bill of intriguing duos, Macdonald and Mackenzie play catchy tunes inspired by Jazz and folk, whilst Saxophonist Wiszniewski is joined by vibraphone player Pascal Schumacher for a beautiful chamber jazz set; The James Brown Experience, a tribute to the Godfather of soul-legendary tunes brings plenty of funky beats; Keith Nichols and Brian Kellock step back to the classical jazz era with two virtuoso piano soloists; and Lorna Reid Quartet celebrates The Jazz Divas, featuring sultry jazz and blues of all the greats, from Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to Diana Krall.

Sunday offers, Brian Kellock celebrating the great American songbook, whilst the second act sees Laura Macdonald and Julian Arguelles join in a tribute to the musical genius of Duke Ellington; Miriam Aida Trio/Keith Nichols one of Sweden’s leading singers, sing a jazz set paying homage to Nina Simone; and Colin Steele Quintet, an absolute must see, playing with ‘celtic melody, lovingly threaded into the American jazz tradition’ (The Guardian).

With so much to choose from, we suggest you check out all three days if you can, but make a particular effort to attend the Sunday as the festival is known to boost a spectacular send off! This year the festival has introduced a ‘Taste of Islay’ to the programme so be sure to look out for the Oyster Bar and Seafood Shacks at events, the perfect food to enjoy with all that jazz. Whilst you’re there, why not take some time out to explore the island, take a walk on the beach or maybe even play a round of golf.

Fiona Alexander, promoter of Jazz Scotland, speaks highly of the festival and welcomes this years further sponsorship by Lagavulin, stating,

‘Visitors to the Festival arrive with a sense of enchantment and discovery. The timeless beauty of the constantly changing landscape and the warmth of welcome provide a great backdrop to the heritage of Lagavulin production and the handcrafted creation of live jazz’

If you’re planning on traveling by ferry, the nearest port is Kennacraig however there is also flying options. There are plenty of taxi services once you arrive on the island and also the option to rent your own car if you would prefer more freedom.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay within easy access of transport, and plenty of scenery of its own, we suggest you check out either of our sites, Drimsynie Estate or Hunters Quay, both offering a unique and comfortable stay.

Hope to see you there!

Best Wishes,

Argyll Holidays


Photo credit to Neil Ridley at Caskstrength Creative

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