As the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra play their last concert of the year you can see why they are considered by many to be one of the best contemporary big bands in Europe. The sheer level of passion, enthusiasm & expression, not to mention talent & skill is both enjoyable & impressive. It should come as no surprise that when they beautifully arrange the compositions of great legends and have them performed by great guest musicians, their performances are really off the chart! But for someone like me there is also another reason why they make such a great night out…
For a young guy like me who loves music & a fun, friendly, relaxed atmosphere it is wonderful that you can sit at the bar in The Queens Hall before the show & see groups of young lads, couples both young & old, families, people from all ‘classes’ & backgrounds, first timers & regular faces all coming together to enjoy music, a drink, conversation & a sit down. And if you are under 25 you can get all this for just a fiver with a youth card… BARGAIN!
The night’s performance was ‘Jaco!’ the music of bass player extraordinaire Jaco Pastorius who created an energetic, accessible modern jazz, both varied & technically brilliant… As a bass player & music lover I am an avid fan. Definitely not elevator music! After previously playing critically acclaimed performances of the music of ‘Weather Report’, one of Jaco’s bands, there was no other orchestra more qualified to captivate the audience than SNJO.
Taking the coveted role of bass player tonight was guest Laurence Cottle, a well established jazz musician, composer & bass player with an extensive repertoire & love for Jaco’s music. For him listening to Jaco’s first album completely changed the way he approached bass playing. He had beautifully arranged a wide selection of songs for the big bandsound while still keeping wonderful flowing medleys. Other guest musicians were Argentinian percussionist Mario Doctor & flutes (yes, plural) player Gareth Lockrane. The dynamic expression throughout the songs, including the many different solos from every instrument had the audience doing everything from tapping feet, rocking back & forth to simply being hypnotized… We had so much to talk about in the interval let alone the end of the night!
The wonderful performers received a standing ovation & finished on the jamming standard famously re-arranged by Jaco & praised by the composer (James Brown’s saxophonist none the less): The Chicken.