With much excitement, Kultura performed at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. We had the privilege to take our set to the fest to be performed and recorded at the Assembly Roxy in the centre of Edinburgh. Usually festival gigs bring about the stresses of running from venue to venue with your gear, cramming into the loading bay and setting up before the next audience gets chaperoned in.
This year, it was a little different. Empty halls with 5 camera crew, a lighting director, sound engineer and 2 festival managers. A step up from the lack of audience for the last 15 months but a beautiful/weird experience nonetheless. Having spoken to the other performers in the fest this year, we all had a similar consensus about the "feel" of playing to an empty venue and trying to ignore the cameras swirling around us. It felt wrong.
In the jazz idiom, we rely so heavily on the response of the other musicians and, not to forget, the audience. Back in the day it was normal to be booed off stage if the crowd didn't like you or you could hear cheers if the soloist referenced a popular melody in their solo. Basically, we missed the crowd.
Having to isolate and get tested 24 hours before the gig raised tensions as we all hoped for negative tests. Luckily a trio only needs 3 people to test negatively. So to our relief, we were cleared for the gig and off we went. A church conversion to an events venue with high ceilings and and tall columns was to be our home for the 4 hour recording session. The concert is 30 min long, but with soundcheck, camera check and social distancing... everything runs a little slower with the added layer of caution.
However, we got play again. And it was beautifully documented by the camera crew and sound team. We found some beauty in the big silent hall and played with that space. Focusing on keeping the energy humming in a low idle. It never felt empty. The solos were personal and dynamic with lots of interplay between musicians and smiles from ear to ear. It was a great gig.
We had written two new tunes specifically for this performance and we gave it our all. Entitled "Olaf Goes to Town" and "A little bit Mozart", we had brought in a new flavour to the band's repertoire and we opened with them.
We had a wonderful time performing our set for the festival and we hope to be back next year with people in the audience to cheer us into euphoria (or to boo us off stage....), either way, we'll be ready! :)
Thanks to the EJBF for the filming and recording of this project and I credit Justyna Kochanska, Omar Aborida and Harrison Reid on the Videography and Editing, Sound by Stevie Cossar and photography by Ben Glasgow. An amazing job guys! :)