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30 under 30: Helena Kay

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Helena Kay started playing alto saxophone when she was 11 years old and was introduced to jazz when her first teacher gave her a Charlie Parker CD. It was when she joined the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra that her love of jazz grew, and she progressed to the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland when she was 16.

A couple of years later she joined the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra where she still plays today. She is currently in her fourth and final year at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, studying with Malcolm Edmonstone, Martin Speake, Gareth Lockrane and Christian Forshaw.

In June 2015 she won the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year competition on tenor saxophone (an instrument-switch inspired by her love of Sonny Rollins). She plays regularly in a trio with David Ingamellsand Misha Mullov-Abbado, and is very happy to be playing in a trio with David and Calum Gourlay in the Glasgow Jazz Festival.

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