Two former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year winners will combine their musical talents when they appear together at Quarrymen’s Arts Centre in Creetown on Friday 12th May.
Saxophonist Helena Kay won the title in 2015, while pianist Peter Johnstone took the prize in 2012. The two musicians have more than a prestigious music award in common, however.
“Pete and I seem to have been either in the same band or pursuing the same goals forever,” said Helena. “We played in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland together. Then we were both in saxophonist Tommy Smith’s Youth Jazz Orchestra at the same time.”
Helena’s group, KIM Trio recently released their second album, Golden Sands to international acclaim, with Peter as a guest, and as well as playing in a duo, Helena and Peter are currently members of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.
Although still in her twenties, Perth-born Helena has been impressing knowledgeable jazz observers for more than ten years now. When she won the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year the judges included one of Scotland’s greatest-ever jazz musicians, the late saxophonist Bobby Wellins.
Helena said: “It was a great confidence boost to know someone as respected as Bobby Wellins liked what I was doing.”
Now based back in Scotland after living and studying in London and New York, Helena is enjoying being part of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and being able to play concerts more often with Glasgow-based Peter, who became the first student on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s jazz course to return as a lecturer.
“We’ve played a few concerts as a duo,” says Helena. “The first one we ever played was for Perth Festival of the Arts, which was a fairly prestigious way to start. They invited us back, so we must have done okay.
“Pete’s always fun to play with. He always has loads of ideas and he really keeps me on my toes. We probably won’t decide what tunes to play in Quarrymen’s until we get there but we’ve heard lots of good things about the venue and it sounds like an inspiring place to play.”
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