KIM Trio is led by tenor saxophonist Helena Kay (Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year 2015, Peter Whittingham Award 2017), and features Ferg Ireland (Kansas Smittys) on double bass and David Ingamells (Yamaha Jazz Scholarship 2013) on drums. The trio have performed at the London Jazz Festival, Glasgow Jazz Festival, played live on BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Now, as well as various other gigs in London and the UK. Inspired by greats such as Sonny Rollins and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and by contemporary names like Melissa Aldana and Larry Goldings, the trio enjoy playing a varied mixture of Helena’s originals and tunes from the jazz canon. Helena has just returned from three months in New York to start touring her debut album, we're delighted to welcome her to The Verdict on Saturday 15th December.
Your debut album Moon Palace is about to be released, how are you feeling?
A little nervous, it's my first album and it's been a huge learning curve. I'd like to record another album now that I know how it's done! I am also really excited, I just can't wait to get started with the tour and play with Ferg Ireland and David Ingamells again. It's been a while because I've been in New York.
Tell us a little about the album. What inspired its title?
The title is stolen from the Paul Auster novel 'Moon Palace'. He's my favourite author; I love all of the books I've read by him, and I thought this title would lend itself to some interesting album artwork, which it did! Tallulah Pomeroy did a fantastic job with the illustration. It's also the title of one of the tracks on the album.
You grew up in Perth, how did jazz enter your life and become such a focal point?
Though Perth isn't exactly the place for jazz, I was very lucky to grow up in a city with such a good music service, and was lucky to have such an excellent woodwind teacher in particular, Philip Alexander. My first saxophone teacher (before Philip Alexander), Jim Morrice, is into jazz, and I remember going to his studio every week and being forced to improvise: I hated it! It took a very long time to build up the courage to give it a go. I joined the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra when I was 14, which was and still is led by Richard Michael, whose enthusiasm for the music is so infectious, and not giving it a go is not an option! By the time I left FYJO in 2012 I had completely fallen in love with the music. I was also a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, and the directors (Malcolm Edmonstone and Andrew Bain) encouraged me to apply for music college.
Winning Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year 3 years ago must have been a great achievement after all your hard work and dedication, how did that moment shape your career?
Part of the prize for winning the competition was a gig in the Glasgow Jazz Festival and the London Jazz Festival in 2016. Without winning it would have been much harder to get a gig at those festivals, and it also meant I was invited back to play at GJF in 2018. The award also helped raise my profile in Scotland and the rest of the UK, for example I was asked to represent the UK in the EuroRadio Jazz Orchestra in 2017 by BBC Radio Scotland, which I doubt would have happened unless I'd won the award.
Tell us about your incredible trio.
I love playing trio, especially with David Ingamells (drums) and Ferg Ireland (double bass). They are incredible musicians and I'm really looking forward to doing a whole tour with them. I met Dave at Guildhall - he was in fourth year when I was in first year, and I met Ferg through Dave. They sound great together, and they're both very much in-demand so I'm very lucky they were both available for the whole tour.
What can the audience expect from your show next week?
They can expect to hear some of the tunes on the album (which was released on 7th December - I'll have some copies to sell at the gig), and also some brand new tunes I've been working on recently, as well as some of my favourite standards/jazz tunes.
Tickets to see KIM performing at The Verdict on Saturday 15th December are available on our What's On page.