Friday, 1 March 2013


Scunnered last week to miss the latest concert by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. A man only has a limited number of heads and last weekend the running club hat was firmly affixed to mine while the jazz hat remained home – hanging forlornly on the hat stand (the running hat is of the "beanie" variety, while the "jazz" hat is a much more splendiferous and jaunty affair)
Anyhoo…. I shall make up for that tonight. While I missed out on the gig last week I didn’t miss out on the “launch” of the new SNJO offering “In The Spirit Of Duke”. A wondrous collection of songs by and associated with Duke Ellington.
Mr Brown who was at the gig kindly picked up a copy of the CD for me. A copy of the CD “signed” by the great man, Tommy Smith himself, no less…

Q: What’s more rare than a signed Tommy Smith CD?
A: An unsigned Tommy Smith CD!*

This is a “collection” of live performances from 4 nights of a short tour carried out last year when the SNJO were joined by Brian Kellock on piano. Very well edited with just enough "banter" and introductions left in to make the listener forget that its not one gig, but an amalgam of four that they are listening too.
It includes one of my favourite Ellington Ballads “Sunset And The Mockingbird” from the “Queens Suite” (in truth, simply "one of my favourite ballads"). It’s a beautiful cover of the song with Kellock joined by Martin Kershaw on clarinet for a wonderfully slow, languid almost lazy duet. What I didn’t know about the Queens Suite was “[that] Ellington wrote the "Queen's Suite" for Queen Elizabeth II who was presented with a single pressing of the recording which was not commercially issued during Ellington's lifetime”.  How much would that pressing be worth??
This song is the gem in the album for me – but it’s all good really. Some really well known “Cotton Club” era stompers and a few more classical orientated pieces from Ellington’s many suites.
Just buy a big one !!
I’ve only really skim-listened to it so far. I’m going to try and take a bit time out tonight and give it a really good listen to. Trying to get back into my old routine of coffee, cake and jazz on a Friday. Add to that mix the chance to sit and read John Fordham’s jazz reviews in the Guardian on a Friday and you have a pretty good start to the weekend.
Anne buys the cake on a Friday. Her approach to cake purchases are not like mine. She goes for a sort of aesthetic approach based on looks, textures, fillings and general “fanciness”. My main criteria is along the lines of “is the cake the size of a breeze-block”? If “yes” then it’ll probably be fine.

* This is an old joke that I first heard attributed to Terry Pratchett books.

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