A brilliant fusion of jazz, classical, pop and Scottish folk influences is among a dazzling list of nominees for Scottish Album of the Year.
Falkirk pianist and composer Euan Stevenson is thrilled that his collaboration with Konrad Wiszniewski, from Cumbernauld, has made the longlist of the SAY awards – the duo’s album ‘New Focus’ sitting comfortably with offerings from big name artists such as Emile Sande and Calvin Harris, as well as fellow Bairns Malcolm Middleton and Karine Polwart.
For them, it’s proof that at least one musical ambition has been achieved.
Euan said: “We normally work in the jazz genre which can be quite inaccessible but we wanted this album to be accessible and melodic and not to make it exclusive, so we are delighted with how it has been received.”
‘New Focus’ uses a classical string quartet with jazz quartet and harp, blended by Euan’s arrangements into one unique sound that has attracted glowing reviews.
One critic described it as being “aesthetically pleasing and then some but also, in essence, just plain damned heart-lifting.”
“That’s a great thing for a critic to say,” said Euan. “Apart from all the technical stuff, any composer wants people to be emotionally moved.”
But their nomination has attracted interest for another reason. This is the second year in a row Falkirk has produced a serious contender for the title, following Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells’ collaboration taking the prize at last year’s inaugural event.
Euan has been asked what it is about the town that is producing such a diversity of strong creative voices.
He said: “I think in part it’s down to geography. Because Falkirk is so central, I suppose you don’t feel like you belong to the west or the east. Now I live in Glasgow I’m aware of the east/west difference in character but in Falkirk I don’t think you slot into either, which I think is healthy.”
SAY’s long list will be whittled down to ten, with the winner taking a £20,000 prize and the nine runners-up each receiving £10,000.
One of the places will be won by public vote which is open only on May 27, and Euan and Konrad would appreciate your votes. Find out more by visiting www.sayaward.com