Introduce yourself, Tell us a bit about your musical career to date, and maybe a fun fact or two:
I began lessons on the practice chanter aged 9 in Aboyne, NE Scotland. Saxophone appeared some while later, and those two contrasting traditions have guided my music making one way or other, ever since. I’ve had good fortune to play in various bands over the years and travel extensively to perform as a result. 9 solo albums over 21 years isn’t perhaps as prolific as some, but I enjoy creating new music most of all.
Favourite gigs / concerts that you’ve performed:
Most have their merits…for several years I’ve deputised for Mike McGoldrick with group Capercaillie. Mike’s an in-demand fellow so the opportunity comes round often enough. It’s always good fun.
Playing duo gigs with guitarist Graeme Stephen is a pleasure, and doing so over an extended period of time, as we have, means ample chance to experiment and develop as musicians. Baku Jazz Festival, 2005, was memorable, if I have to pick one.
The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen in the late 90s was often fairly jumping when playing with Old Blind Dogs…
Too many!… My Mum and Dad, piping teachers Ian Grant and Jack Taylor + a group of c.150 musicians, working mostly in Scotland, whom I’ve learned alongside.
Key collaborations or collaborators over the years:
Nedyalko Nedyalkov (Bulgaria), Sabir Khan (India), Walther Castro (Argentina), Graeme Stephen
Old Blind Dogs, Salsa Celtica, Mr McFalls Chamber, Grit Orchestra, Capercaillie
What you’re looking forward to at Islay Jazz Festival this year:
Giving a world premiere live performance of my most recently released music… plus the beautiful scenery, and perhaps a wee dram.
A story from a past Islay Jazz Festival (if you’ve been before):
Colin Steele’s ‘Stramash’ ( a folk/jazz large ensemble) featured one year, performing and making a live recording for Radio 3 in the Lagavulin Distillery. I was playing border pipes and whistles. I can’t recall exactly how far into the journey from Edinburgh we were when the feeling something was missing set in, not in the first couple of hours anyway. Border pipes need bellows to operate, to pump in the air, but I’d left mine at home. God bless the late Fraser Shaw of Islay – a great piper and fortunately a player of the same Nigel Richard made border pipes as myself. Fraser met me in the middle of the moor on Islay to loan me his bellows for the day, saving me much embarrassment.