Bill Kyle, drummer and Edinburgh jazz club owner, died suddenly on 30 October

An indefatigable force and visionary on the Scottish jazz scene, Bill Kyle was raised in Dunfermline and after establishing himself as an in-demand drummer in Edinburgh and Glasgow, formed Scotland's first fusion band, Head, in the early 1970s. From his daytime job as a trainer at IBM in Greenock he gained insights in project management and the effective channelling of creativity and applied these to the Scottish jazz scene. In 1972 Bill was the prime mover in establishing Platform, Scotland's first non-profit organisation, with the aim of creating a touring circuit so that both indigenous and visiting jazz groups could be heard in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen. With the support of the Scottish Arts Council (its first foray into jazz), Platform launched with a short tour by Don Weller's Major Surgery. This was quickly followed by the Mahavishnu Orchestra's memorable performance at the Kelvin Hall and by several years of successful concerts.

Meanwhile Bill had left IBM to set up his own training business and consultancy, while continuing to promote jazz activities in Edinburgh and Glasgow. After periods in London and New York, Bill returned to Edinburgh and In April 2002, opened Scotland's first-ever full-time jazz venue, The Bridge Jazz Bar, presenting memorable performances from top jazz names including Joe Locke, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Bob Sheppard, Benn Clatworthy, Theo Travis, Viktoria Tolstoy, Buster Williams, Lenny White and Lee Konitz.

After a mere seven months of operation, however, disaster struck. A massive fire in the Cowgate area of central Edinburgh on 7 December 2002 destroyed many buildings including the Bridge Jazz Bar and all its contents. Assisted by the loyal support and goodwill of musicians and audience, Bill resolved to have another go and The Jazz Bar in Chambers Street, across the road from Edinburgh University, opened on its doors on 1 July 2005.

In the past decade The Jazz Bar, with its relaxed, friendly ambiance, has been a mainstay for visiting jazz artists and for upcoming young bands as well as established figures on the Scottish jazz scene. Much loved and admired for his creativity and passion for the music and for his encouragement of young players, jazz music in Scotland, hundreds of musicians. and his many long-time friends will miss Bill Kyle – an impossible act to follow.

– Charles Alexander

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