Martyn Bennett never got to become a festival programmer. If he had done, it seems fair to say that the programme the virtuoso musician-cum-maverick traditionalist would have put together would look a bit like Celtic Connections' Martyn Bennett Day - except bigger.

In a conversation before the release of what was to prove his final masterpiece, Grit, Bennett imagined bringing together his dream line-up. It included Tuvan throat singers, French jazz musicians, an improbably talented tambourine player, fiddlers, pipers, Gaelic psalm singers, a chamber orchestra and Bennett on DJ decks. Some of these elements will be present as Celtic Connections pays tribute on Saturday to a musician who died far too young, right at the end of the festival last year.

Bennett didn't acknowledge musical categories. A musician who was schooled in the tradition on pipes, classically trained on violin and piano, and entirely self-taught in experimentation, he just went for what sounded right to him. And if that meant turning Scots traditional singing's national treasure, Sheila Stewart's version of Ewan MacColl's Moving On Song, into a heavy-duty club track, or the diminutive dynamo Annie Watkins's recording of Eh'll Awa' Hame into electronica of Wagnerian proportions, so be it.

The marvellous thing about Bennett was that he somehow managed to retain - indeed, magnify - these singers' personalities, rather than lose them in the welter of sound. His music moved the tradition forward with respect, and no little mischief.

This Saturday's celebration comes in two parts. The show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (1pm, main auditorium, GBP12.50, GBP10, 0141 353 8000) focuses on Bennett's classically slanted compositions and includes Mackay's Memoirs, an orchestral arrangement of Liberation, from Grit, and Piece for Small Pipes and String Quartet. Later, the newly refurbished Old Fruitmarket's acoustics get a soundcheck from Bennett's recreated Cuillin Music band (10pm, 0141 353 8000), a mob rather than a corps of pipes and drums, and DJ sets.

Elsewhere on this first weekend of the festival, there's a potentially explosive double bill at the Strathclyde Suite (tonight) featuring Shetland fiddler Chris Stout's quintet and At First Light, the group fronted by the outrageously gifted uilleann piper John McSherry.

Irish music enthusiasts can catch the Chicago-based fiddler Liz Carroll with guitarist John Doyle at the Tron Theatre tomorrow before going on to surrender to Lunasa's magic and majesty at the Old Fruitmarket.

The same night, Steeleye Span are reuniuted at the Garage. And in keeping with the festival's wide interpretation of whatever Celtic music might mean, Les Yeux Noirs present Eastern European gypsy traditions with a touch of jazz at the Arches on Sunday.

Celtic Connections runs until Sunday January 29. See p15-18; call 0141 353 8000 or visit www. celticconnections. com