Twelve months ago I sat right where I’m sitting now, filling in the online application for the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award on behalf of my quartet, Square One. We’d just returned from playing at a small jazz festival in the North East of England, one of our first gigs outside Scotland. As always happens after a successful concert, we’d chatted at length about where the band might go next, and how we might take our music to new audiences and new places.
One year on, I’m writing this next to a large box of our new CDs, having just finished packing for our album launch tour, which will take us across the UK and beyond – it still hasn’t sunk in!
It’s been an incredible year for the band, thanks to the great opportunity provided by the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, funded by Help Musicians UK. Immediately after winning the award, we were keen to get some new media out as soon as possible. In January we hired a film crew and a recording studio, and came away with two high-quality videos which have been invaluable in raising the band’s profile and getting our music out to new listeners and promoters while we prepared to record our debut album.
In April, we hired top-notch studio CastleSound for two days to record the album. We write all our own material and had been preparing the music for months, and it was genuinely exciting to be able finally to record it in such a great space, with the excellent engineer Stuart Hamilton. Over the next few months, we worked with fantastic mixing and mastering engineers and a brilliant visual artist to create our finished product, ‘In Motion’.
Since winning the award, we’ve gone on to organise a national tour to release the album, as well as a weeks’ worth of dates in Poland. We also had a fantastic gig at the Glasgow Jazz Festival, and I was commissioned to write a new piece for Square One to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary – all this thanks to the fantastic boost given to us by winning the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award. A big thanks to the team at Help Musicians UK for making this possible.
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