Rise by Jess Gillam
Last year was a historic year for the BBC Young Musician awards. They had their first ever saxophonist in the finals. Now to those who don’t know, this is a bigger deal than you might think. It’s historically pianists and violinists with a smattering of other strings and occasionally a token woodwind or brass through to the finals of these kinds of competitions. So for Jess Gillam to get through is a true testament to her musicianship, at the ripe old age of twenty years! So in celebration, Decca have signed her on, and this is her debut album. I have to say I loved it for so many reasons. It really reflects the crossover that happens between truly great modern classical music, with elements of pop, rock, folk and more. We’ve got some Milhaud, Kate Bush, John Williams, Dowland, Shostakovich, Nyman and Bowie. If that’s not a wellrounded programme, I don’t know what is. The first track, Pequeña Czarda by Iturralde completely blows you away with Gillam’s technical capabilities. While in the Dowland you hear long melodic lines that sweep you away into another world. A bit overly poetic you might say? I think Gillam deserves it for making a bit of history and winning one for the woodwinds.