A SCOTTISH jazz musician has launched a petition in order to save Jazz Nights from being axed by BBC Radio Scotland. 

The broadcaster confirmed to The National that it would be making changes to its programming “in response to there being a licence fee freeze and to refocus some of our efforts from broadcast to digital output”. 

The music show is normally broadcast on a Sunday evening and features monthly concerts, artist profiles and jazz from across the sub-genres. 

Tommy Smith, who established the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 1995, has now started a petition in a bid to save the show. The petition is well on its way to 1000 signatures. 

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In the message attached Smith expressed his disappointment at the show’s cancellation, saying that now is the time to “expand jazz” rather than “cut is head off and make invisible a music which is flourishing in Scotland”.

He adds that the timing of the cancellation is also strange after jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie was named as the winner of the Scottish Album of the Year last October. He was also shortlisted for the Mercury Prize.

McCreadie told The National he was “gutted” at what he felt was a “deeply regrettable” decision.

“I had some of my earliest performing experiences on the programme when I was 15, and over the years it has been a great supporter, playing the music I’ve released regularly as well as often hosting live sessions in the studio.

“I’m only one musician of many as well – everyone I know has benefited from the programme in some way and it’s been a key part of the development in the scene in Glasgow”, he said.

The musician said: “The most heartbreaking aspect is that we’re now in a place with jazz in Scotland that more and more exciting things are happening in the scene – and yet now there won’t be the radio infrastructure to support it.

The National: Fergus McCreadie said the news of the show's cancellation was 'heartbreaking'Fergus McCreadie said the news of the show's cancellation was 'heartbreaking'

“I hope that those who made the decision can see how much of a mistake it is, and a reversal can be made – perhaps cuts are inevitable, but it is so unfair it is the arts that are first on the chopping block.”

The petition adds: “I don’t want to advise my students to move to London to get their feet on the first step of the career ladder; we need a robust infrastructure here in Scotland; festivals, clubs, agents, recording, education and BBC Radio Scotland. 

“I am very concerned that Jazz Nights is being cut, and I urge BBC Radio Scotland to keep this invaluable programme in place and to continue shining a light on Scotland’s jazz scene as it is currently the envy of many countries around the world.”

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The call has also garnered support on social media, including from musician and National columnist Pat Kane, who encouraged his followers to sign the petition. 

He said: “At a time when the quality and numbers of young Scottish jazz musicians is at its world-class highest, this is sheer vandalism!”

Smith also pointed to the success of Georgia Cecile, who won UK Jazz Act of the Year and Vocalist of the Year at the 2022 Jazz FM awards.

A BBC Scotland spokesperson told The National: “We are making some changes to there being a licence fee freeze and to refocus some of our efforts from broadcast to digital output.

"As part of this we have had to make some difficult decisions across our output including the decommissioning of Classics Unwrapped and Jazz Nights.

"We will still reflect our vibrant classical and jazz communities in Scotland on our schedule, and we’re working on new and creative options for achieving this. 

“We also know audiences who enjoy this music can continue to access it across the BBC. At the moment BBC Scotland produces two piping programmes, one for Radio Nan Gaidheal and one for Radio Scotland and so we are looking at the most efficient way of serving both audiences which will involve a different piping offer. 

“We remain committed to showcasing the musical talent which exists in Scotland across all genres and we look forward to developing fresh and vibrant ideas which will allow our audiences to listen wherever and whenever they choose.”