Bernadette Kellermann's Colourworks at The Jazz Bar in Chambers Street was an early evening, low-key event centred around Bernadette Kellermann’s solo project and debut EP – COLOURWORKS. What perhaps makes this event a little different from others is that, along with Bernadette, the line up featured some of the most promising young talent on the Scottish contemporary Jazz scene - Fergus McCreadie (piano), Mark Hendry (bass) and Graham Costello (drums). All musicians also play on the EP along with Alice Allen (cello) and Cameron Thomson-Duncan (trumpet), who were not on stage tonight.
One of my likings for Jazz music is the way that its format allows musicians to move in and out of different combinations as the musical project takes them without the more rigid structure of other musical genres, and this is what always makes things interesting for me as no two projects or performances are ever alike. On this project, Bernadette is exploring elements of music from traditional Scottish folk music, classical music, and jazz and fusing everything together into something new. This approach by Bernadette and other young musicians (including those on stage with her tonight) of taking inspiration from their own musical heritage as well as more formal Jazz and classical sources is creating music for a new generation of audiences and it is much needed as musical innovation has always been the driving force of Jazz (or any musical genre), and it is good to see and hear young musicians who could easily relax and play “the standards” instead choosing to create their own music and identities.
There was at times here a little bit of “uncertainty” from Bernadette presentation wise, but that is allowable as we found out that this set was only the second public performance of “Colourworks” with the first being back in November 2018. There was also a modesty about the individual achievements of everyone on stage tonight. Bernadette, Fergus and Graham have all worked with the expansive Jazz collective “Fat Suit” who were winners of the “Best Band” category 2017 Scottish Jazz Awards, and The Fergus McCreadie Trio won “Best Album” with "Turas" at this year’s awards. All the young musicians on stage already have an impressive work-load of other musical projects both old and new to their individual and collective names.
Taking an instrumental concept like “Colourworks” to stage was always going to be a challenge, but it all worked here and the audience obviously enjoying works like “Vardo” and “Incarnadine”. Even a long 20 minute performance piece (2 songs with an added middle section) kept the audience’s attention. I say “even” as concept works of this length can be difficult to perform live, but there were times in my head where I could swap Bernadette’s violin for The Velvet Underground’s John Cale playing as both have that inquisitive experimental musical sound to them. Not everything was from “Colourworks”, and “The Wild Iris” based on a poem of the same name worked well thematically with the main works.
Jazz music needs young musicians like the ones on stage tonight, musicians who are looking forward with new ideas of their own rather than looking backwards and re-creating what has gone before. As a reviewer I see far too many faces in the audience of any jazz concert that are of my age at least, and far too few young faces. Jazz needs to get its injection of youth back both on-stage and in the audience. Perhaps some of this new music may not be what some people define as “Jazz Music”, but I dislike “musical genre boxes” at any time. Music is simply music and should be allowed to find its inspiration from anywhere and everywhere.
For more information on Bernadette Kellermann's C O L O U R W O R K S visit
Review by Tom King