Kirkpatrick Juxta Church in Beattock is delighted to announce that it will be hosting the Church of Scotland’s very own Heart & Soul Swing Band on Friday 9th March, in St Andrew’s Church, Moffat. The twenty-piece band will be performing its unique blend of upbeat gospel, swing, jazz and blues songs together with some new arrangements of traditional favourites, all with a jazz feel.

The band is the brainchild if the Rev Dr Robin Hill, minister of Longniddry linked with Gladsmuir (in East Lothian). Robin’s cousin in Australia is a professional musician who played in a gospel jazz band which, among other things, offered free performances and took part in worship in local churches. Having heard them, Robin wondered if something similar could be achieved with a group of amateur musicians here in Scotland, and so used his study leave in 2012 to develop the idea.

He sought help from Richard Michael BEM, the organist in Abbotshall Church, Kircaldy but better known to many as a great music innovator who, with the world renowned saxophonist, Joe Temperly, founded the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra some forty years ago. Richard, an honorary professor of Jazz Music at St Andrews University, mixes performance and teaching roles with frequent appearances on Radio Scotland. Richard has proved to be a great source of inspiration both to Robin and the band as a whole, becoming an enthusiastic and challenging mentor who quickly transformed the musicians’ approach to group playing.

After a couple of warm-up gigs the band made its first full appearance at the church’s “Heart & Soul” festival in 2013 – hence the name. The full band comprises a rhythm section of drums, percussion, vibraphone, piano, bass and guitar and a front line of 6 saxophones, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones and flute, with the occasional clarinet thrown in for good measure. Add to that two great singers and you have without doubt the hottest band ever to rip up a jazz, blues and gospel numbers, old and new.

The Heart & Soul Swing Band doesn’t charge for performances but asks for donations to the Church of Scotland’s HIV Programme. While there have been many positive advances in the worldwide fight against HIV and Aids, its effects remain widespread and it continues to ravage lives, families and communities, particularly in the developing world, but also here in Scotland. To date, Swing Band performances have raised more than £21,000 for the programme.

So put the date –  9th March 2018 – in your diary and prepare to have the Heart & Soul Swing Band blow away your winter blues. The concert starts at 7.30 pm, entry is free but any donations to the HIV programme will be gratefully received.