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The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) is considered by many to be one of the UK’s foremost contemporary big bands. Founder/Director and leading saxophonist Tommy Smith established the SNJO in 1995 with a crystal clear artistic vision and core values of versatility, discipline and expression.

Since its inception more than twenty years ago, many of the leading lights in world jazz have enthusiastically shared the stage with the SNJO. People like Gary Burton, Arild Andersen, Branford Marsalis, Joe Locke, Makoto Ozone, Mike Stern and Kurt Elling have all joined the orchestra to explore virtually every room in the house of jazz.

The SNJO’s diverse repertoire has included re-imaginings of works by the great, the good and the gigantic, including Basie, Mingus, Monk, Miles and Coltrane. They have also recorded vivid interpretations of Gershwin, Miles Davis, Mozart, and Duke Ellington.

They have also played the music of Chick Corea, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Weather Report, Steely Dan, Pat Metheny, Keith Tippett, Oliver Nelson, Benny Golson, Jaco Pastorius, Dave Brubeck, Mike Stern, Steps Ahead and many others.

The SNJO is completely committed to inclusivity, especially where young people are concerned. They have also produced wonderful concerts for young people including, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, and Jazz Toons, which featuring some of the best-loved cartoon, television and movie themes ever scored.

Several gifted arrangers have been commissioned by the SNJO to re-imagine many iconic works in a wide-ranging repertoire. Names such as Michael Abene, Geoffrey Keezer, Florian Ross, Christian Jacob, Bill Dobbins and Fred Sturm have all contributed to the SNJO’s evolution as an innovative musical force.

The SNJO have made several recordings both live and in the studio, often with notable special guests who work at the highest level in jazz. The first recording to appear was Miles Ahead in 2002 followed by a stunning re-arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue (2006). Then came Tommy Smith’s biblical epic Torah (2010) and the ECM-tinted Celebration (2011). These successes were followed by the critically lauded In The Spirit of Duke (2013), American Adventure (2014), Jeunehomme (2014) and Beauty and the Beast (2016).

The most recent SNJO releases (available in CD and digital download formats) are the specially commissioned Sweet Sister Suite, composed by Kenny Wheeler, and featuring Laura Jurd on trumpet and the singing voice of Irini Arabatzi; and the astonishing Scots language version of Prokofieff's 'Peter and the Wolf'.

Over the past twenty-one years, the SNJO has provided a platform for startling original works such as The Wheeler Suite (1998), The Edinburgh Suite (2001), A Day in the Life (2002) The Orcadian Suite (2003), What If? (2005) The Alaskan Suite (2005), Torah (2010), Beauty and the Beast (2010), The World of the Gods (2010) and The Culloden Moor Suite (2011), and Spirit of Light (2017)

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Tommy Smith’s tenor sax bewitchingly opens the more sombre Andantino before a simmering tango emerges; and the quirkily punchy third movement becomes a bebop tear-up for the SNJO soloists, and a flying classical stride from Ozone at the close. It’s a clever, sympathetic and truly musical example of the treacherous art of jazz/classical cohabitation. —John Fordham reviewing Jeunehomme for THE GUARDIAN.

“Aesthetically and artistically, a jazz version of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is a risky venture. But hats-off to Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra for pulling off this convincing jazz corollary.” —Stuart Nicholson JAZZWISE

“The entire performance (of Peter and the Wolf) tears up the rulebook in the best possible way

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Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Sweet Sister Suite

Spartacus Records
2018

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Peter and the Wolf

Spartacus Records
2018

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Beauty And The Beast...

Spartacus Records
2016

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Jeunehomme: Mozart...

Spartacus Records
2015

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Scottish National...

Spartacus Records
2014

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Culloden Moor Suite

Spartacus Records
2014

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