RECENT LISTENING: June 2021

‘Divided Horizon’ – Aki Rissanen
Aki Rissanen – solo piano/Omniwerk
Release date: 25 June 2021
editionrecords.com

‘Right Here, Right Now’Charlotte Keeffe
Charlotte Keeffe, Moss Freed, Ben Handysides, Ashley John Long, Diego Sampieri, London Improvisers Orchestra
Release date: 11 June 2021
discusmusic.bandcamp.com

‘Path of Seven Colors’ – Ches Smith’s We All Break
Ches Smith, Matt Mitchell, Miguel Zenón, Sirene Dantor Rene, Daniel Brevil, Markus Schwartz, Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene
Release date: 11 June 2021
weallbreakpyroclastic.bandcamp.com

‘Tales from the Jacquard’ – Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra
Julian Siegel, Nick Smart, Tom Walsh, Percy Pursglove, Henry Lowther, Claus Stotter, Mark Nightingale, Trevor Mires, Harry Brown, Richard Henry, Mike Chillingworth, Jason Yarde, Stan Sulzmann, Tori Freestone, Gemma Moore, Mike Outram, Liam Noble, Oli Hayhurst, Gene Calderazzo
Release date: 25 June 2021
juliansiegel-whirlwind.bandcamp.com

‘We’re Young Pilgrims’ – Young Pilgrims
Richard Foote, Kieran McLeod, Mike Adlington, Sean Gibbs, Sam Wooster, Michael Owers, Chris Maddock, Jonathan Silk, Euan Palmer
Release date: 18 June 2021
emporium.stoneylane.net

‘Isn’t It Romantic?’ – Aki Takase, Daniel Erdmann
Aki Takase, Daniel Erdmann
Release date: 7 May 2021
bmcrecords.hu

‘Effervescence’ – Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra

effervescence

TAKE A LOOK at that cover art – a clue to the polychromatic flamboyance of this new release from the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Formed fourteen years ago by renowned Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith, the TSYJO has consistently provided an important, ongoing, step-up platform for young jazz musicians. This third album is a real joy because, rather than reflecting any insecure naivety of youth, Effervescence emphatically displays the orchestra’s unfettered go-for-it creativity, all backed up by solid musicality. In fact, all eight of these sumptuous tracks fizz without any trace of inhibition, Smith’s choice of material showcasing the players’ versatility.

The breathless, strummed pace of Woody Herman’s Apple Honey sets the tone. Complete with feisty wah-wah trumpet section and rolling saxes, Liam Shortall’s brash trombone antics are met with appreciative band cheers; and Helena Kay’s whirling, spirited clarinet connects with the piece’s origins. Jerome Kern’s familiar phrases in The Way You Look Tonight (lavishly arranged by Florian Ross) swing with life-affirming positivity, summoning a delicious alto spotlight from Adam Jackson, whilst a tangible rhythmic reduction clears the way for trombonist Kevin Garrity’s sublime, held-back solo. Glitzy Blues March (Benny Golson) parades to snappy snare, with infectious piano swing at its heart; and Florian Ross’ expansive arrangement of Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty (more familiar in trio format) is imaginatively colorised by guitarist Joe Williamson and pianist Pete Johnstone, including an intricate feature for drummer Stephen Henderson.

From within the orchestra’s ranks, trumpeter Sean Gibbs’ composition Tam O’Shanter coolly saunters to crunchy, pitch-bent rock guitar and high-blasting trumpets before its switch to an effusive, driven, spy-thriller of a middle section; and the big-band swing of Nefertiti (Miles Davis, arr. Ross) is becalmed for Michael Butcher’s lush tenor solo, supported by smooth, sustained trombone voices. The rapidity of Things To Come is audacious (you can almost sense Dizzy Gillespie applauding Sean Gibbs’ display from the wings), whilst the orchestra’s sensitivity to crescendi and diminuendi is especially notable, underpinning a fluvial alto solo from Helena Kay – altogether an utterly convincing performance. And Christian Jacob’s tightly-swung arrangement of Chick Corea’s Bud Powell, featuring tenorist Samuel Tessier, is both sleek and snappy.

Entertainingly feel-good, all the way, Tommy Smith and his players are to be congratulated on this exuberant release.

Effervescence is available from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra website or Amazon.

 

Tommy Smith director, producer

Helena Kay alto sax, clarinet
Adam Jackson alto sax
Samuel Tessier tenor sax
Michael Butcher tenor sax
Heather Macintosh baritone sax
Tom Walsh trumpet
Sean Gibbs trumpet
Joshua Elcock trumpet
Christos Stylianides trumpet
Cameron T Duncan trumpet
Tom Clay Harris trumpet
Michael Owers trombone
Liam Shortall trombone
Kevin Garrity trombone
Richard Foote trombone
Joe Williamson guitar
Fergus McCreadie piano
Pete Johnstone piano
David Bowden acoustic bass
Stephen Henderson drums

Also available: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s Beauty & the Beast – an original work composed and directed by Tommy Smith, with guest saxophonist Bill Evans.

tsyjo.com
snjo.co.uk
tommy-smith.co.uk

Spartacus Records – STS024 (2016)