Durra dedicates gig to Jazz Bar legend

Award-winning American pianist Louis Durra will dedicate his gig at Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar tomorrow night (Wednesday, 23 November) to his friend, the Jazz Bar founder Bill Kyle, who died suddenly at the end of last month

Like everyone on the Scottish jazz scene, Durra was shocked to learn the news about Bill Kyle’s death on October 31. He had got to know the Jazz Bar proprietor while appearing at the Fringe in 2007, when he was over from Los Angeles working with comedian Taylor Negron.

“Bill booked me for a couple of trio gigs that year,” says Durra. “Then, when I decided to come back with my own presentation in 2011, he was able to give me a residency at the Jazz Bar for the duration. That visit changed my life. I ended up winning a Herald Angel award, came back the next year and then, after a visit to Berlin, I decided to live in Europe.

The year after his first Fringe residency Durra became a surprise hit on American college radio when his album The Best of All Possible Worlds, featuring jazz versions of songs by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Radiohead and Alanis Morisette, caught DJs’ attention. He has since followed up with two more albums, again featuring jazz versions of pop songs alongside his own compositions and gained a cult following in the UK and Europe as a result.

On his Jazz Bar gig, which is one of four dates he is playing in Scotland this week, he’ll be accompanied by Scottish musicians, drummer Doug Hough and bassist Euan Burton whom he met through Bill Kyle on previous visits to the Jazz Bar.

 “I know I’m not the only musician Bill helped,” says Durra. “He seemed to help everyone on the Scottish jazz scene and he gave many, many musicians – some of them big names – their first gigs in Scotland. He’ll be sadly missed and although he won’t be there with us on Wednesday we’ll be thinking about him and playing some music in his memory.

Words: Rob Adams

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