September 2014 Concerts

We are delighted to announce that the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra will be back in Dundee and Glasgow in September.

Friday 12th Sept in Dundee on the Frigate Unicorn starting at 8pm

Sunday 14th Sept in Glasgow at the Royal Conservatoire starting at 7.30pm.

The students are raring to go and will bring their fabulous improvisational talents to these two cities. The orchestra promises another exciting programme that pays tribute to more great names in jazz – including Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and more. Foot tapping favourites, infectious swing, mellow mood and contemporary jazz will inspire and entertain all – an evening of jazz not to miss!

Dundee and Glasgow dates: See Concert page for full details

”TSYJO smashed it!!! I think that they had the best performance of the night”

TSYJO 10th Anniversary Concert Review

TSYJO Concert in Ullapool    Macphail Theatre, 13 September 2012

I DO hope they’ve had someone up there checking the roof at the Macphail this week because the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra must have come very close to blowing it off.

IF YOU weren’t there you can start kicking yourself now, because this review is only going to make you feel worse. What a night! The rain was lashing, the wind was slamming and the loch was boiling under a furious sky. Indoors, though, it was as cool as Fifth Avenue in April, and just as stylish, and as the set opened with a Buddy Rich classic, ‘Love for Sale’, no one in the room was left in a moment’s doubt about the virtuosity of this outfit.

Their precision and cohesion as an ensemble were perfectly matched by the seamless elisions of the featured solo players each of whom demonstrated not just a generous mastery of their instrument but a profoundly mature appreciation of the music. This is a band completely absorbed in its work, already (despite its youth) at home with the genre, and very much at ease in each other’s onstage company.

Two pieces stood out for me. The first, Count Basie’s ‘Hay Burner’, was played with such a delight in its subtlety and such command of the humour of the piece that it really was hard to believe these were musicians only at the start of their careers. To end, they gave us Big Band meets the Modern Jazz Quartet with a sublime arrangement of Lennon and McCartney’s lovely ‘Norwegian Wood’. I’ve been whistling it all week.

It wasn’t just the sneakers and jeans and the cool-dude shirts which lent the Macphail a touch of New York’s Lincoln Center on the night. These guys (and one girl) played like Yankee old hands. They wha-whaed like the best, and clearly enjoyed every syncopation, every tempo rise, every subtle shift of mood. Hell, a couple of ‘em even looked like Buddy Holly! All that was missing was a dry, dry martini.

It is invidious to highlight soloists in such a small outfit (there were seventeen musicians on stage) and when all are so accomplished, but I can’t resist particular mention of Ruaridh Pattison (alto saxophone) – make a note of that name because it’ll be household one day – and Kieran McLeod (trombone) whose delight in their own skills never got in the way of masterly performances or attempted to overshadow the brilliance of the rest.

And now I feel I have to mention the others by name because each brought a necessary presence to the whole, from Young Musician of the Year Peter Johnstone on piano, to Joe Williamson (guitar) and Brodie Jarvie on acoustic double bass. John Lowrie was mesmerically restrained and beat-perfect on drums. The four trumpets were led by John Woodham whose solo playing raised the hairs on the back of your neck; and among the trombones was 15 year-old Liam Shorthall who played like a Cotton Club veteran!

I’m guessing that alto sax players never have to work too hard to get girlfriends (or boyfriends). I mean, how sexy is that instrument? Even in its case! Heather McIntosh was an unsung hero(ine) of the evening on baritone saxophone quietly getting on with the occasional oom-pah, and combining in those strident chords, and still managing to maintain a country smile through the entire performance.

Tommy Smith’s direction appears to be the ultimate in laid-back, but the hours in rehearsal are apparent from the complete engagement of every member of the Orchestra. OK, so you weren’t there, and your applause will never be heard on the live recording they’re making of this 10th anniversary tour, but you can get a flavour of what you missed on Emergence, the Orchestra’s latest CD which is out now on Spartacus Records. You could mix yourself that dry martini at home, before you sit to listen.

© Stephen Keeler, 2012

 

“Emergence” – TSYJO’s 2nd Album

Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra "Emergence"Established in June 2002, the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra features the very best young jazz musicians from Scotland.  Showcasing endless talent, improvisational skills, exuberance and verve, the orchestra members demonstrate these traits in every performance and play with a collective maturity well beyond their years. With a repertoire that makes no concessions to their youth and featuring soloists of startling ambition and creativity, these young musicians bring alive the music and pay tribute to the true giants of jazz making their compositions sing with enthusiasm, style, personality and expression.

“TSYJO smashed it!!! I think that they had the best performance and piece of the night”

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“Exploration” – The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra featuring Joe Locke

Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra "Exploration"At a time when the oral jazz tradition is in increasing jeopardy, you’ve got to admire Tommy Smith. Berklee schooled in the 1980s, the Scottish saxophonist had a promising career in the United States. He was a member of Gary Burton’s mid-1980s quintet, with the vibraphonist producing Step by Step the first of four records Smith released on Blue Note between 1988 and 1992 featuring an all star line-up including John Scofield, Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette. But after a few years in the US, Smith decided to return home to Scotland, where he’s since set up his own Spartacus label and released a series of fine albums, including another all-star session, Evolution (ESC, 2003), and Forbidden Fruit (Spartacus, 2005), with his Scottish quartet.
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The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra “Exploration”

Featuring special guest Joe Locke on vibes – who seizes the attention with every solo, such is his unbridled vigour and tumultuous energy – this album puts Tommy Smith’s young jazz orchestra through its paces courtesy of a sensibly chosen but by no means clich’d repertoire that allows members to explore their nascent soloing capabilities as well as honing their ensemble skills. read more

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Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra: Exploration

**** (4 stars)

SAXOPHONIST Tommy Smith launched this big band, at his own expense, in 2002 to help foster the cream of young Scottish jazz talent, and their debut recording amply illustrates the depth of that talent. Bolstered by some section leaders from the senior Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, the band were joined by American vibes maestro Joe Locke as a dazzling guest soloist for a brief Scottish tour in February. read more

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Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra / Joe Locke, “Exploration”

Tommy Smith knows all about youth jazz – he was a teenage saxophone prodigy himself, on the road with vibes star Gary Burton when barely out of school. Smith has been running an ambitious youth orchestra in Scotland for years, and this set (mainly distributed through the saxophonist’s website) doesn’t just chronicle the sound of the latest edition, but adds the exciting American vibraphone virtuoso Joe Locke. read more

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live at the Jazz Centre Edinburgh

4-star **** FORMED by the renowned Scots saxophonist Tommy Smith, the Youth Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit collective of some of the most promising jazz babies the country has to offer. read more

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