Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra - Exploration (4 stars)

Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra - Exploration

(Spartacus Records)


There is ample evidence here that the flow of talent on the Scottish jazz scene continues unabated. Saxophonist Tommy Smith launched this big band at his own expense in 2002 to help foster the cream of Scotland’s emerging young jazz musicians. The current crop are joined by American vibes maestro Joe Locke and a couple of guests from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in this impressive studio debut, made possible by sponsorship from Shell UK and recorded in Glasgow after a short tour last February.

Their assured ensemble work and imaginative soloing is evident on a characteristic range of material from their regular repertoire, some of it handed down from the SNJO’s own programmes. They open with Oliver Nelson’s exuberant ‘Hoedown’, and include fresh-sounding versions of two jazz warhorses, Ellington’s ‘Cottontail’ and Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘A Night In Tunisia’, alongside contemporary compositions by Kenny Wheeler, Lars Jansson and Fred Sturm.

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