Scotland's award-winning, internationally acclaimed jazz orchestra delivers an authentic Ellington experience under the leadership of saxophonist-director Tommy Smith with special guest, pianist Brian Kellock.
Recorded on tour in Scotland in October 2012, 'In the Spirit of Duke' captures the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in one of its best-ever performances. Following every last Ellington detail, including the stage set-up, using specially sourced period mutes and playing scores that in some cases were specially transcribed from Ellington performances, SNJO director Tommy Smith set out to give audiences as close to the real-deal Ellington experience as possible. And he succeeded.
Audience responses were ecstatic and reviews enthused about the triumph in presenting the music, which spanned almost Ellington's entire career, as both true to the spirit of the original and as if it was freshly minted. The repertoire includes such Ellington hits as "Black and Tan Fantasy", "Concerto for Cootie", "Harlem Airshaft" and a ravishing tenor-piano duet of "The Single Petal of a Rose" and as well as movements from The Queen's Suite, it features extracts from Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's, at the time, controversial re-interpretation of Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite.
With outstanding individual performances from soloists including pianist Brian Kellock and a world-class ensemble sound, this is Ellington and the SNJO rockin' in rhythm, harmony and peerless swingtime.
Personnel: Tommy Smith (tenor saxophone, director), Brian Kellock (piano), Ruaraidh Pattison (lead alto & soprano saxophone, clarinet), Martin Kershaw (lead clarinet, alto saxophone), Konrad Wiszniewski (alto & tenor saxophone, clarinet), Bill Fleming (alto & baritone saxophone, clarinet & bass clarinet), Ryan Quigley, Cameron Jay, Tom MacNiven, James Marr (trumpet), Chris Greive, Phil O'Malley, trombone), Michael Owers (bass trombone), Calum Gourlay (acoustic bass), Alyn Cosker (drums)
'There are some real personalities in the band, who add spice to the superb professionalism of the rest...Smith, Pattison and Quigley are terrific, but it's the sheer ease of Kellock which impresses most.' -- The Daily Telegraph, (Ivan Hewett) * * * * *
'Last autumn's Duke Ellington-themed tour by the SNJO was undoubtedly one of the best live Ellington experiences in Scotland in living memory. This CD is a 16-track fusion of the five Scottish concerts and it not only captures the young band getting a kick out of the glorious repertoire, but also showcases its world-class ensemble playing and terrific soloists.' -- Scotland On Sunday, (Alison Kerr) * * * * *
'An exhilarating re-enactment of Ellington's gigs...it catches a hot contemporary band in real time, creatively interpreting in the free-spirited way only the best jazz musicians can.' -- The Guardian, (John Fordham) * * * *
'The ensemble playing is quite breathtakingly good. No pastiche here, more of a healthy respect and regard for the music...if you have the slightest interest in Ellington's music and its continuing validity, then this is for you.' -- Jazzwise, (Peter Vacher) * * * *
'The SNJO's ability to get its musicians under the skin of its great forebears has drawn much praise, deservedly, over the years. Last autumn's Duke Ellington celebration, however, raised the orchestra's already high standards even higher, and here's the proof...the individual playing captures the idiom perfectly.' -- Sunday Herald, (Rob Adams)
'Highlights include "Koko" and "Harlem Airshaft" accurately replicated from the original three-minute recordings with the sinuous sensuality of an authentic Ellingtonian experience.'
--Financial Times, (Mike Hobart)