McCreadie reaches for the top with Cairn

Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie’s second album, Cairn is showing early signs of emulating the success of his award-winning debut album, Turas.

Released on January 29, Cairn has already been tipped as one of the top UK jazz albums of 2021 by respected radio presenters and the first video single from the album, featuring the title track, reached No 1 in the influential international Amazon Fresh Jazz playlist, following in the footsteps of top jazz draws, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and the Hot 8 Brass Band. 

“The early responses have been amazing,” says McCreadie, who won both the UK’s leading jazz prize, the Parliamentary Jazz Awards Album of the Year, and Best Album at the Scottish Jazz Awards in 2019 with Turas. The album also reached the Scottish Album of the Year shortlist, a rare feat for a jazz release.

“When we recorded Cairn back in January last year, I felt it was a progression from the first one,” McCreadie adds. “It felt more mature. We’d been touring a lot and I thought that showed in the way we worked more closely together. There was just a slight worry that, because Turas was so well received, people might listen to the new one and say it wasn’t as good. But the reactions we’re hearing so far have all been really, really positive.”

Cairn is McCreadie’s first recording for the highly respected Edition Records label, having self-released Turas while still a student on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He joins top jazz names including saxophonist Chris Potter, singers Gretchen Parlato and Kurt Elling and one of his own favourite bands, Phronesis in recording for the label.

The pianist, who added the Best Instrumentalist title at the Scottish Jazz Awards in October 2020 to his achievements, has had several high-profile gigs postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic. His trio, with David Bowden (bass) and Stephen Henderson (drums), were due to appear at Rochester Jazz Festival in New York in June and at the massive Love Supreme festival in the south of England in July.

However, the trio, which headlined at Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival in 2019, has achieved a notable success with its appearance at the prestigious Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, which moved online this year.

“Everything was going well until the first lockdown caused live music to stop,” says McCreadie. “But musicians all over the world are in the same situation. We’re hoping that Rochester and Love Supreme can be rescheduled. It’s also fantastic to be part of a major event like Celtic Connections with its world-wide audience. So, with the new album due at the end of January, it would be good to think we can pick up the momentum we created before the pandemic.”

Adam Roberts

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