Martin Kershaw – Playtime

How would you describe this project?

Playtime was founded by Martin Kershaw and Graeme Stephen in 2014, with the tagline ‘New Adventures in Music’. Since then it has provided a platform for all kinds of innovative composition and performance, as well as presenting the opportunity for a reappraisal of classic and contemporary jazz repertoire. The core quartet of Kershaw (reeds), Stephen (guitar), bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Tom Bancroft has been central to Playtime’s success – all are supreme practitioners on their respective instruments as well as being award-winning composers. In addition, guests are frequently brought in to perform at the fortnightly Playtime concerts held at The Outhouse, Broughton St Lane, Edinburgh. This has helped create a still wider range of new musical experiences, with players exploring their own and each others’ original works in a highly receptive, intimate setting. Audience numbers have steadily grown since 2014, with the project now enjoying a consistently high, enthusiastic turnout for every event.


This project takes jazz music into a new space…what was the process that took you there?

The particular focus of Playtime provides a musical experience that is otherwise basically lacking in Edinburgh, but within that there have been many nights of music that have been completely improvised, with two sets of unbroken, unprepared music. This approach has been particularly embraced by the Tangential Excursions Trio of Kershaw, Stephen and Bancroft, either on their own or joined by guests such as DJ Dolphin Boy, George Burt, Robert Henderson or Lau’s Martin Green. It is perhaps in this sphere that Playtime has created the most innovative approach – the format and line-up creating a unique musical experience that simply doesn’t exist elsewhere in Scotland.


What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

The core members of Playtime all have their own projects: Martin Kershaw plays lead alto in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, has his own Quartet and will embark on a major writing project this year to commemorate the passing of the author David Foster Wallace; Graeme Stephen has his own Quintet, along with ongoing projects composing and performing original film scores; Mario Caribe has his own Quartet, is a long-standing member of Moishe’s Bagel, and is a teacher on the renowned RCS Jazz Course; Tom Bancroft has his own highly acclaimed Trio Red, the ABC Education Project and is in constant demand as a performer, composer and educator of unusual versatility and energy.


What other pieces have you seen or heard in the last year that you think will stand the test of time?

The Grit project is clearly a remarkable undertaking that will surely continue to flourish; Paul Harrison’s Sugarwork is a hugely important project that will never grow stale.


In an ideal world, what is the piece or project that you would most like to write or create? 

Playtime is constantly looking to explore new angles, work with different musicians and expand its audience. As a collective, we would certainly love to be able to have more time and space to create more ambitious, complex musical ventures – a residency somewhere would be good, or the funding to take some time out to work on compositional and improvisational approaches, whether simply as a quartet that works together very well, or in collaboration with other musicians from Scotland and further afield.

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