A great CD Review from Dan McClenaghan for All About jazz The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, SNJO, under the leadership of saxophonist Tommy Smith, has proven itself to be one of the premier large ensemble outfits out there.
Beauty and the Beast: The SNJO with special guest Bill Evans
“The whole orchestra plays brilliantly,…….well worth the wait.”
From the opening drum salvo and funky bass/ piano, this piece hits you and carries you along in a wave of euphoria. For those who remember Tommy Smith as a lyrical hard-bop sax player, the music here might not come as a surprise. What is, perhaps, surprising is the depth and complexity with which he uses the whole palette available in this jazz orchestra to colour and build the pieces in this suite.The pieces are not named but numbered 1-7. The motivation for the seven pieces here was a meditation on the duality of the human psyche – hence, Beauty and the Beast (although, continuing the Scottish theme, it could as easily have been Jekyll and Hyde).
“…a magnificent achievement by all concerned.” Part 1: After a Kentonesque intro (had Kenton still been around) Bill Evans, who isn’t a reincarnated pianist nor an aka Yusef Lateef, erupts on soprano. This is definitely the Beast. Part 2: A change from major to minor mood suggests that the beast is eying up a young […]
A Christmas Festival of Jazz with the SNJO and TSYJO They better watch out, better not cry, better not pout because, as the song doesn’t go on to say, the next generation might be after their jobs. There was no sense of anti-climax in the “feeder team” – the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra – […]
Preservation and renewal were at the heart of this excellent celebration of one of jazz’s major pioneering figures. In the sixty-one years since his death, many have sought to capture Charlie Parker’s spirit. His tunes are still rites of passage for jazz players, and not just for those who take up his chosen instrument, the […]
The past few years have seen the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra consolidate their international status and eclectically adventurous repertoire, having their sweet way with a Mozart piano, deconstructing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, collaborating fruitfully with American singers and Scandinavian bassists and, just this month, releasing yet another live concert album, this time recorded with US […]
Of all the many hours of music that the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra has played and shared over the past twenty-one years it’s the ensemble’s affinity with Charles Mingus that’s the most striking. The orchestra celebrated this most characterful of jazzmen’s work in the early years of this century with a firecracker of a concert […]
“Glasgow-born Bobby Wellins composed an early version of this work more than 50 years ago, and recorded it in 1965 with Stan Tracey and a simple quartet.