The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra releases on the 15th of April music from its acclaimed concert series at St Giles’ Cathedral.
Where Rivers Meet itself is a product of Covid times. A celebration of the free-spirited, blues and gospel-influenced jazz that reflected the turbulent times in America during the 1960s, the concert series was staged online from the 12th century St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh in May 2021 during the SNJO’s silver jubilee year, with the extraordinary visual artist, Maria Rud.
Orchestra founder-director, saxophonist Tommy Smith says: “The setting of St Giles’ was inspiring. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t have an audience with us to share the event due to the Covid restrictions at the time. Everyone in the orchestra put their hearts and souls into the music, and the results were terrific, filled with expression and emotion.”
Where Rivers Meet comprises four suites dedicated to pioneering saxophonists Albert Ayler, Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman and Dewey Redman and arranged by Paul Harrison, Paul Towndrow, Tommy Smith and Geoffrey Keezer. Saxophonists Martin Kershaw, Konrad Wiszniewski, Paul Towndrow and Tommy Smith are the featured soloists, and the project has already enjoyed critical acclaim.
London Jazz News described Wiszniewski’s contribution as “beguiling” and remarked on the arrangement of Dewey’s Tune from the Redman suite as providing “a prime example of big band bounce.” And leading jazz blog Bebop Spoken Here found Towndrow’s interpretation and execution of Coleman’s compositions “triumphant.”
The CD version of Where Rivers Meet follows an initial release via online music platform Bandcamp to mark the SNJO’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the orchestra’s founder as well as its musical director,Tommy Smith is deeply appreciative of the ensemble’s audience’s continued support.
“It’s been a quick quarter of a century,” he says. “One hundred seasons have cycled through their revolutions, and the SNJO have followed similar curvaceous evolutions during our short stint on the earth. We hope that Scotland’s connectivity and pathways become stronger so that musicians have a stable future and a strong voice in the country we call home. Many thanks for supporting the art and allowing us to play for you. You never know what the wind will bring.”