Posts Tagged ‘Spartacus Records’

Tommy Smith’s inadvertent radicalism

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Scots saxophonist Tommy Smith returns to his and some other jazz roots with his new album Karma as well as paradoxically making a perhaps inadvertently radical statement. He tours the music in Scotland in late June and later elsewhere (see below). (more…)

“Visceral precision and imaginative interplay”

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Karma,  Spartacus *****

Tommy Smith’s new quartet includes pianist/keyboardist Steve Hamilton and drummer Alyn Cosker off his 2005 Forbidden Fruit album, but this no less brilliant successor is very different. New is Kevin Glasgow on six-string electric bass, and the lingua franca has become an amalgam of Scottish, Irish and Arab folk elements spiced with funk, fusion and heavy metal. (more…)

‘Karma’ review in The Guardian (4 stars)

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Scottish saxophonist Smith, a teenage prodigy in the 80s, is nowadays one of the most widely respected of European jazz musicians – not just for his sax mastery, but for his influence on his homeland’s jazz culture through the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and its youth wing he founded and still runs. Smith can play the daylights out of full-on post-bop or explore north-Euro ambiance, but this is a hard-hitting fusion album – one that sounds pretty familiar at first, with its hammering backbeats (from the ferocious Alyn Cosker), slick unison choruses and Headhunters keyboard and bass guitar effects. But Smith is much too smart for the obvious, and this set for what he calls his “grunge band” turns out to be a rare splicing of rich-toned, pipe-like themes, fiercely guttural up-tempo tenor improv, Arabic and Irish music, tight grooving that suggests Weather Report or Chris Potter’s Underground band, and some haunting atmospherics from his shakuhachi bamboo flute. Smith’s compositions are way ahead of the usual slam-bang fusion forays, and the sombrely pensive Star (based on an Irish folk song) is a great sax-ballad performance.

read on The Guardian website


Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Tommy Smith "Karma"

Tommy Smith "Karma"

Hailed on arrival by critics as the toughest and most creative group of his career, Tommy Smith’s KARMA sees the brilliant Scottish saxophonist lead a band of virtuosic musicians on a deeply grooving acid jazz adventure that draws on influences from around the world. (more…)


Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Tommy Smith "Spartacus"featuring Tommy Smith (Tenor Saxophone), Kenny Barron (Piano), James Genus (Bass), Clarence Penn (Drums)

  1. The Peacocks
  2. I Want To Be Happy
  3. Emily
  4. Bye Bye Blackbird
  5. It Never Changed My Mind
  6. The Lady Is A Tramp
  7. When I’m All Alone
  8. Spartacus
  9. I Loves You Porgy


John Fordham (The Guardian) ***** — CD of the WeekThis beautifully recorded acoustic jazz record was made at Clinton Studios in New York City on 27th Spetember 2002. The technique of recording direct to 2-track analogue is used by many jazz musicians as it captures the performance, in the moment, and also adds a natural warm lushish sound to the recording; as you would hear it acoustically. James Farber, New York’s most famous recording engineer, becomes a member of the band as he has to mix in real time, as the music is played.

The Christmas Album

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Tommy Smith "The Christmas Album"featuring Tommy Smith (tenor saxophone), Gareth Williams (piano), Orlando Le Fleming (bass), Sebastiaan De Krom (drums)

  1. Winter Wonderland
  2. God Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen
  3. Auld Land Syne
  4. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  5. The Holy & The Ivy
  6. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  7. We Three Kings
  8. The Christmas Song


John Fordham (The Guardian) — This might sound a bit of a turkey, as you might say, since it’s composed entirely Christmas songs, played by Scottish saxophonist Smith and a trio. But it’s impressive how well the sentimentality is replaced by a mysterious, almost abstract air. Winter Wonderland becomes a glimmering musical landscape rather than a Christmas card, with Smith’s haunting tenor sax curling over Gareth Williams’ enigmatic piano riff, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a hard-toned, thundering Coltrane-quartet swinger. Smith’s superb tone control at low volumes poignantly reinvents Silent Night; Auld Lang Syne has a cocky strut to it, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas murmurs like a drier Ben Webster before turning to the lazy mid-tempo swing effortlessly furnished by Orlando leFleming (bass) and Sebastiaan de Krom (drums). Whatever he does, Smith sounds like a man in charge these days.

Into Silence

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Tommt Smith "Into Silence"featuring Tommy Smith (tenor & soprano saxophones & bells)

  1. The Scream
  2. Oran Na Politician
  3. Naima
  4. Libra
  5. Capella
  6. Ad Te Levavi
  7. Deneb
  8. My Romance
  9. Orion
  10. Aquila
  11. Phoenix
  12. Tibi, Christe, Splendor Patris
  13. Cassiopedia
  14. My One & Only Love
  15. Perseus
  16. Ursa Minor
  17. ‘S Ann Aig Posrt Taigh N H-Airigh
  18. Cetus
  19. Lynx
  20. Indus
  21. Vela
  22. Gradual
  23. Draco
  24. Alleluia
  25. Collect
[audio:|titles=Tommy Smith – Into Silence – Naima]

About the Music

This recording features 25 improvisations, folk songs, ballads and some Gregorian Chants within the beautiful and haunting reverberation of the Hamilton Mausoleum.

Alone At Last

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Tommy Smith "Alone At Last"featuring Tommy Smith (tenor & soprano saxes, synth, samples & percussion), Edwin Morgan (poetry), Kenny Barron (piano), James Genus (bass), Clarence Penn (drums), Groven Myhren (soprano vocal), Steve Hamilton (synth & computers samples), Aidan O’Donnell (bass), John Blease (drums, gongs & pionciana pod)

  1. Ally The Wallygator
  2. Into Silence
  3. Wolf
  4. Mercury
  5. Twin Towers
  6. Robert Burns
  7. Over The Rainbow
  8. In The Cave
  9. Folk Song
  10. In The Beginning
  11. Loch Ness Monster Song
  12. The Ring Of Brodgar
  13. Cumiaichean
  14. Jazz Hop
  15. From The Video Box 25

About the Music

Funky Notes ‘Online Magazine’ — It is courting controversy to state that Smith is best known as leader of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and firmly sewn in to a Basie-esqe straitjacket but many a commentator has made that allegation in the past. This album, however, firmly dispels the rumour and portrays the saxophonist as his own man. Much of the content emphasises Smith’s Scottish heritage and background with titles such as Robert Burns and the Loch Ness Monster Song. Indeed, this amazing blend of music and poetry owns much to the Bard. Internationalism is not forsaken, though, with the emotive Twin Towers giving a profound poignancy to the collection. Recorded in New York, Norway and Scotland over a two year period, this album is a true “must” for every thinking jazz collector. We may never see its likes again!


Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Tommy Smith "Bezique"featuring Brian Kellock (piano), Tommy Smith (tenor Saxophone)

  1. Bud Powell
  2. Very Early
  3. Never Let Me Go
  4. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  5. The Thrill Is Gone
  6. Ladies In Mercedes
  7. Don’t You Know I Care
  8. Parker 51
  9. Lush Life


Kenny Mathieson (The Scotsman) ***** — “SCOTLAND’S two leading jazz musicians convened for this duo performance at The Hub in Edinburgh in July and played in dazzling and highly inventive fashion on an intriguing mix of standards and contemporary jazz tunes, many of which were not part of their usual repertoire elsewhere. The vivid live recording captures much of the tension, spontaneous energy and exhilarating interplay of ldeas which made it such a memorable occasion.”

Dave Gelly (The Observer) “CD of the Week” — “The duet is the most exposed form in jazz because there’s simply nowhere to hide, and to record a duet live is a risky undertaking. That’s what makes this virtuoso performance, captured at last summer’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival, so impressive.”

Rob Adams (The Herald) **** — “It would be fascinating, in the time-honoured jazz way, to blind date 100 jazz enthusiats without local knowledge and see how many attribute this recording to two Scottish musicians. Recorded at their first live duo date together at Edinburgh International Jazz Festival in July, these nine tracks capture the saxophonist and pianist living up to their reputations and confirms for those present that both were absolutely on their mettle. There’s empathy, maybe even a little benign rivalry, tender romance, flowing, full cry creativity from both players, humour, and musical hooliganism, too, as Kellock takes Bill Evan’s Very Early from waltz to waltzer, and karate chops a glorious take on Steve Swallow’s latin-dancing Ladies In Mercedes. International class? You bet. Footballers get caps for much less.”

Peter Bacon (The Birmingham Post), Favourite CDs of 2003 — “Both men have technique verging on the gargantuan, yet the music on this live recording from The Hub in Edinburgh is never virtuosic for viruosity’s sake. Smith is the complete saxophonist, possessing a tone muscular when needed, and sweet as a nut on the ballads. Kellock does everything a post-Oscar Peterson pianist should.”

John Fordham (The Guardian) — “These are two of the most formidable soloists on the Scottish scene, pretty much in straightahead mode. Saxophonist Smith, as he has demonstrated with the American Joanne Brackeen, is a good duo collaborator with pianists, his more languorous Jan Garbarek-like aspect in other settings put aside in favour of a surging, hard-swinging style. But his formidable range, particularly in sustaining a remarkable purity on long, high sounds, is fully unwrapped on this collection of 11 standards old and new, including traditionals such as Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life, and Steve Swallow’s Ladies in Mercedes – the latter opening with an abstractedly Monkish piano intro from Kellock.”

Miles Ahead

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Tommy Smith with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra "Miles Ahead"width the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Belinda Gough (flute & alto flute), Mhairi Milne (clarinet), Michael Huntriss, Allon Beauvoisin (bass clarinet), Allon Beauvoisin (bass clarinet), Laura Macdonald (alto saxophone), Eddie Severn (trumpet), Hedley Benson (trumpet), Tom MacNiven (trumpet), Nigel Boddice (trumpet), Colin Steele (trumpet), Charles Floyd (french horns), Paul Klein (french horns), Chris Greive (trombones), Mark Boyd (trombones), Ronnie MacNiven (trombones), Lorna McDonald (bass trombone), Andy McKreal (tuba), Orlando Le Flemming (bass), John Rae (drums)
and special guest Ingrid Jensen (trumpet & flugelhorn)

Tommy Smith (conductor)

  1. Springsville
  2. The Maids Of Cadiz
  3. The Duke
  4. My Ship
  5. Miles Ahead
  6. Blues For Pablo
  7. New Rhumba
  8. The Meaning Of The Blues
  9. Lament
  10. I Don’t Want To Be Kissed