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ALBUM REVIEWS

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Beauty And The Beast feat. Bill Evans

Read "Beauty And The Beast feat. Bill Evans" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

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. They have released a series of uniformly excellent recording, beginning with 2002's Miles Ahead, featuring Ingrid Jensen, a remake of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans gem; an expansive take on Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue; a big tip of the hat to Duke Ellington with In the Spirit Of Duke, all of these on Spartacus ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Makoto Ozone: Jeunehomme: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9 K-271

Read "Jeunehomme: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9 K-271" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

It's Mozart, so you expect genius to jump out of the speakers, and it does, on Jeunehomme: Mozart Piano Concerto No 9 K-271. And it's not just the genius of the composer, it's also a brilliant showcase for pianist Matsuko Ozone's arranging and conducting skills, and for the hearty magnificence of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was twenty-one years old when he wrote this piece, and it is often considered his first true masterpiece. Taking ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bobby Wellins and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Culloden Moor Suite

Read "Culloden Moor Suite" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

It's over 268 years since the Battle of Culloden and yet the event continues to resonate in contemporary Scotland (which votes on independence just a few days after this album is released). Tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins wrote his Culloden Moor Suite in 1961, inspired by John Prebble's book, Culloden, released in the same year. The composition gets a new lease of life with this big band recording, from May 2013, which brings Wellins together with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tommy Smith/Brian Kellock: Whispering of the Stars

Read "Whispering of the Stars" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Tommy Smith is known best for his directorship of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. The group has emerged as one of the finest of big bands with offerings like the classic In the Spirit of Duke (Spartacus records, 2013), a tribute to Duke Ellington, Rhapsody In Blue (Spartacus Records, 2006), an extended and stunning remake of George Gershwin's classic tune, and the inspired backing of Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen on the 2012 ECM Records release, Celebration. But Smith is also ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: American Adventure

Read "Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: American Adventure" reviewed by John Kelman

Sometimes an idea seems great on paper, but in execution doesn't exactly work out as planned. Other times, that same idea doesn't just look great, it actually exceeds already high expectations. When saxophonist Tommy Smith--almost single-handedly responsible for rebuilding a modern jazz scene in his home country of Scotland, where he returned after studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music in the 1980s and releasing a couple of well-regarded albums on Blue Note--brought his Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In the Spirit of Duke

Read "Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In the Spirit of Duke" reviewed by Jack Bowers

It had long been saxophonist Tommy Smith's dream to perform and record a live concert of music written by or associated with the great Duke Ellington. As leader of the acclaimed Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Smith set about making that dream come true, and in October 2012 it happened, as an enthusiastic audience saw and heard a stellar performance In the Spirit of Duke by Smith and the SNJO, one that those who weren't lucky enough to be present that ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In the Spirit of Duke

Read "In the Spirit of Duke" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Another tribute to bandleader/composer/pianist Duke Ellington? Is this necessary? Pulling from the archive a few recent nods to one of America's musical icons reveals 1997's elegant Count Plays Duke (Mama Records), by the Count Basie Orchestra; Don Sebesky's unabashedly gorgeous Joyful Noise (RCA Victor, 1999); and pianist Ted Howe's excellent trio affair, Ellington (Summit Records, 2005). Each album explores Ellington deeply, while offering its own idiosyncratic twists to the music.The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra--and let's put it up ...


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