The Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra – FYJO – is an award winning big band located in Fife, and has been led for 39 years by our Musical Director, Richard Michael, winner of the 2013 Jazz Educator of Year award, and a 2009 parliamentary jazz award for services to jazz education. Our Musical Director is assisted by tutors Carlo Madden and Pete Petrie.
Richard is one of Scotland’s most versatile musicians, who has influenced a generation of teachers and students with his innovative methods of teaching improvisation through forty years work with Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (FYJO) and a career as composer, performer and workshop leader. As a pianist and organist Richard gives recitals on The Art of Improvisation, and can improvise in any key, in any style at the merest hint of a theme! He is Radio Scotland’s “Jazz Jargonbuster”, demonstrating many styles of jazz in “The Jazz House” and has recently been featured on Radio3’s “Jazz Line-up”.
CD Review: Richard Michael – Contemplation
Richard Michael (solo piano)
reviewed by the Jazz Press and “Be-bop spoken here”
‘With CDs dropping down like meteorites from a distant universe what I need like a hole in the head is a double CD. But, this is the cross I’ve chosen to bear, so I travel on which, in this case, isn’t such an arduous task – in fact it’s actually a most delightful walk in the park!
Richard Michael, a Scottish jazz legend both as a pianist and an influential educator, is that rare breed of musician blessed with the ability to move effortlessly between styles and genres. Here he pays homage to his favourite pianists/musicians offering his own interpretations rather than rattling off a transcription by, say, Art Tatum. No, the man from north of the border pays homage to Fats, Brubeck, Corea, Trane, Duke, Herbie, Bill Evans, Django and many more in his own sweet way.
It may verge on ‘Easy Listening’ but most certainly nowhere near what that misleading term means – I’ve been in record stores and found Coltrane albums filed under Easy Listening – no wonder folks are buying online!
I use the term because it is easy to listen to and please do not dare to make conversation whilst I’m listening!
Apart from the beautiful renditions of the standards there are also some intriguing jazz versions of – wait for it – We Plough the Fields and Scatter coupled with What a Friend We Have in Jesus; Postman Pat; The Lark in the Clear Air which is twinned with Brother James’ Air and a couple of personalised originals – A Kwela For Caitlan (his daughter) and When All’s Said and Done (for his wife, Morag).
What comes out from all this is that it’s likely to be the best solo piano album I’ll hear this year – it certainly is up to now,
And the story doesn’t end with the final track Love Walked in as love walks in once more on October 5 when, as part of the Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music, Richard Michael gives an afternoon workshop at Sage Gateshead and plays a gig at the Globe Jazz Bar in the evening.
A masterclass in jazz piano throughout the ages but, don’t take my word for it, have a listen.’
Pete is an established music teacher and professional musician who has been working with Richard since his teens (Pete’s). Pete Leads the Junior Band at FYJO and helps out in the Senior Band when his trombone is required!
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