Recent reviews


"Scottish guitarist Graeme Stephen’s rippling, sensuous score for Wallace Worsley’s 1920 proto-horror flick The Penalty, starring Lon Chaney as a double-amputee crime lord intent on looting San Francisco for his evil ends. Stephen’s luscious, lyrical music – for the velvety combination of himself on guitar and Pete Harvey on cello – emphasised the film’s underlying melancholy over its Grand Guignol, however, conjuring remarkably rich, subtle textures. *****" David Kettle, The Scotsman


"Freshly composed music motored and danced with confident locomotion and verve ... brilliantly realised melodic discovery, shrewdly applied electronica, and an exciting element of order from near-chaos marked an outstanding success" The Herald


"Another sell out show crammed into the award winning JazzBar; I've never seen it so busy. Playing music solely written by guitarist Graeme Stephen, his quartet consists of local and formerly local musicians Calum Gourlay, always impressive on bass, Stu Ritchie on drums and Phil Bancroft on saxophone. Stephen uses a variety of pedals and loops to create textures over which he and the band play, producing music of depth and emotion. The band were all excellent, but Bancroft in particular played a series of scorching solos. Ritchie's drumming had both finesse and guts. The music was at times dark, at others humorous, and sometimes both. This was an unexpected triumph, and it felt a privilege to hear musicians I see regularly pull off something both world class and original" Patrick Hadfield, London Jazz News


"There is an intimate sense of shared experience in viewing such a film with effectively a 21st-century cinema orchestra stationed between you and the screen ... From the string quartet's ominous opening chords over Stephen's pulsing electric guitar, reflecting the inexorably grinding machinery on screen, the musicians play more or less non-stop for two hours, ranging from delicate lyricism for moments of pathos to snarling guitar and drums as the action intensifies ****"The Scotsman


“Graeme Stephen again underlined the qualities that make him a player on the international jazz stage with his latest project presenting a veritable harvest of beautifully written vignettes for his superb group. Where the Aberdeen-born guitarist triumphed in particular, though, was that he didn’t just graft on music to someone else’s work: he actually made the movie – in this case one considered by many to be the finest of its kind ever made by a Hollywood studio – seem almost like a component of the band, a visual singer, if you will” – The Herald

“Stephen made good use of the wide palette of instrumental colour and texture available to him from this unconventional line-up, the combined effect was spell-binding” The Scotsman

"Murnau’s Sunrise is a compelling story full of drama, with storms both emotional and meteorological, private moments, bustling public scenes, a twisting plot and a not easily reached happy ending. It calls for a detailed score, and it got one here as Stephen set the scene with hypnotic guitar work that gave way to a veritable harvest of beautifully written vignettes" The Herald


"The frightful shadow of the vampire slides up a staircase to the reverberating strains of electric guitar … The grainy images flickering on screen are vintage, but the musical accompaniment is as contemporary as you can get: welcome to the world of guitarist Graeme Stephen, a widely respected guitarist on the Scottish jazz scene who in recent years has been turning his compositional talents to “live” scores which he and colleagues perform for silent movies" – The Scotsman


“Stephen’s daring writing and willingness to complement conventional lyricism with sonic experiment makes for a powerful experience, fiercely driven at times but often subtly impressionistic, with rock and folk influences and electronic effects all judiciously woven into the soundscape” – Kenny Mathieson, The Scotsman