"Any band led by the Scottish sax-star Tommy Smith always raises the bar." The Independent, JOHN FORDHAM
Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra releases a second album, Emergence that re-confirms the ensemble's ability to deliver jazz from a wide-ranging repertoire with passion, verve and maturity beyond their years. Established in June 2002 by internationally acclaimed saxophonist Tommy Smith, the TSYJO features the very best young musicians on Scotland's burgeoning jazz scene and has already drawn enthusiastic responses from critics and audiences alike on both sides of the Atlantic. To underline the high standards set over its lifespan, musicians from the TSYJO have regularly progressed into the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, which has earned the accolade of Europe's leading large-scale jazz ensemble, and all five winners of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year competition, which was launched in 2007, feature on Emergence.
Emergence includes jazz classics by Ellington, Basie, Miles Davis and Billy Strayhorn, the new tango style patented by bandoneon master Astor Piazzolla and a glorious big band take on Steely Dan's Black Friday, all delivered with collective zest and individual creativity of the first order.
01 MICHELANGELO 05:29 Astor Piazzolla arr. Fred Strum
02 IN A MELLOW TONE 06:00 Duke Ellington arr. Oliver Nelson
03 FLINTSTONES 05:48 Will H. Shaeffer arr. Pino Iodice
04 HAY BURNER 03:39 Sammy Nestico
05 MOOD INDIGO 04:02 Duke Ellington, Albany Bigard, Irving Mills arr. Dave Wolfe
06 BLACK FRIDAY 05:31 Walter Becker & Donald Fagen arr. Fred Sturm
07 JOSHUA 11:00 Miles Davis/Victor Feldman arr. Bob Mintzer
08 TAKE THE A TRAIN 08:08 Billy Staryhorn arr. Don Sebesky
09 NUMBERS 05:38 Tommy Smith
10 MOTEN SWING 07:30 Buster & Benny Moten arr. Sammy Nestico
Lucy Kerr [alto on 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 10] soloist on 10
Adam Jackson [alto on 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9] soloist on 1, 7
Ruaridh Pattison [alto on 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10] soloist on 3
John Fleming soloist on 3, 8
Joe Wright soloist on 9
James Marr soloist on 5, 8
Ed Marr soloist on 2, 10
Kieran McLeod soloist on 8
Richard Foote soloist on 8
Kevin Garrity soloist on 10
Euan Fulton soloist on 10
Peter Johnstone soloist on 3, 6, 8
Alan Benzie soloist on 2, 7
Andrew Robb soloist on 10
John Lowrie soloist on 3, 6
engineered by Stuart Hamilton, Castle Sound Studios, Pentcaitland, Scotland — 4th/5th January 2010
mixed + mastered by Jan Erik Kongshaug, Rainbow Studios, Oslo, Norway — 17th/18th Dec 2010
photography by Colin Robertson
graphic design by Nadja von Massow [nadworks / Siula Grande Design]
produced + mastered by Tommy Smith
Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra - The Herald
An end of term report on saxophonist Tommy Smith's dedication to nurturing young Scottish jazz talent through this orchestra would reflect on the progression of various members through to the award-winning Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and TSYJO producing all five Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year winners so far. Of perhaps greater interest to potential listeners, however, is the news that this second release, following 2007's Exploration, illustrates the startling maturity and genuinely high-grade creativity that Smith draws from his charges. These are front-rank arrangements of a diverse range of material, including Ellington standards, Steely Dan's roaring Black Friday, Astor Piazzolla's Michelangelo and the no doubt fun but no less demanding Flintstones theme, all played with professionalism and enthusiastic ensemble zing, and featuring superb individual contributions. Smith doesn't like singling out musicians, but Joe Wright's tenor saxophone feature on Smith's own Numbers really is worth the entry price alone.
Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra - Emergence
(Spartacus Records STS016. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Ten years on from its foundation (June 2002), Tommy Smith's Youth Jazz Orchestra continues to give the best possible introduction to the world of jazz to successive batches of young Scottish musicians.
The quality of the playing on this album can be gauged not only by the fact that all five winners of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year competition (est. 2007) are present in the band's ranks, but more importantly, that they negotiate a wide-ranging repertoire with verve, precision and considerable aplomb.
Material from the heart of the big-band canon (Ellington's 'In a Mellow Tone' and 'Mood Indigo', Billy Strayhorn's 'Take the "A" Train', the Motens' 'Moten Swing', the Davis/Feldman classic 'Joshua') is interspersed with slightly more recherché fare (Astor Piazzolla's 'Michelangelo', Tommy Smith's feature for tenorist Joe Wright 'Numbers') and the odd escape from the rock world ('Black Friday' from the Steely Dan songbook), but it is the alternately punchy and crooning ensemble work, the cogent soloing and, above all, the sheer exuberance of the band's overall approach that impresses throughout this rousing programme.
Much more than just an incubator for its illustrious and acclaimed elder relative, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (though many members do progress to the senior outfit), the TSYJO is a considerable creative force in its own right, and plays a vital role, perfectly documented on this wholly enjoyable album, in what is a burgeoning jazz scene north of the border.