Ken, and all that jazz

publicity still for The Man with the Jazz Guitar
publicity still for The Man with the Jazz Guitar

JAZZ fans will no doubt have their pick of shows this week, as the Glasgow Jazz Festival kicks off today (Wednesday).

But for one southside-born film producer and animator, the festival marks a homecoming as she showcases her latest work – a documentary about one of the genre’s (and the city’s) greats.

Linda Chirrey, of Five Feet Films, returns to Glasgow this week to launch The Man with the Jazz Guitar, a study of the popular radio broadcaster Ken Sykora.

Linda, a former Williamwood high pupil from Netherlee, told The Extra: “Four years in the making, this project has given me a great excuse to come back home more often than normal, and I’m particularly pleased that it’s showing at the GFT – a cinema I spent a lot of time in as a student”.

As for the subject, it’s a name which many readers of a certain generation will recognise.

Ken Sykora presented on both Radio Scotland and Radio Clyde for over 20 years, with shows including Sykora’s Emporium and Eater’s Digest: “a food programme not just for cooks, but for everyone who eats”.

The film charts Ken’s life story, spanning 80 years as a jazz guitarist – before World War II and on the 50s London jazz scene – and later a broadcaster (as well as a brief stint in hotel management).

For Five Feet Films it’s “Ken as a character, more than his career, or achievements, that is compelling: the way he chose to live his life, full of integrity, passion and humour and the lasting impact this had on those around him”.

The film features intimate interviews with his children, close friends and colleagues both musical and broadcaster, and there are also snippets of his radio voice alongside animations.

Former southsider Linda is keen to stress that it’s not just a film for jazz fans – although there is no doubt a wealth of them in town at the moment who would enjoy the show.

Instead, it’s a trip down memory lane for fans of a well-loved Glasgow broadcaster – or the chance to discover the man for the first time.

The Man with the Jazz Guitar is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre today and tomorrow (Thursday) at 3.15pm and 8.25pm. Tickets are available from the GFT.