SNJO: Rhapsody in Blue Live (4 stars)

SNJO: Rhapsody in Blue Live

It has been a source of regret that so little of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s mighty achievements of the past decade and more have made it onto commercial CD release. This is only the second disc they have been able to issue (although Tommy Smith records just about everything they do, and must have a huge archive of gems awaiting funds), and follows the now distant release of Miles Ahead back in 2002.

The recording comes from the opening night of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in 2006, and captures the energy and invention of the band and soloist Brian Kellock in Smith’s massive new arrangement of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. ‘Arrangement’ hardly does it justice – expanded to three times the length of the original, full of imaginative new writing and superbly played by all concerned, it is a major work in its own right, and the recording allows us leisure to pick up on much that was missed in the whirl of the live outing.

(Spartacus Records)

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