Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

In The Spirit Of Duke


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The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra's ability to get its musicians under the skin of its great forebears – be it the Charles Mingus band or the soon-to-be-revisited Stan Kenton Orchestra – has drawn much praise, deservedly, over the years. Last autumn's Duke Ellington celebration, however, raised the orchestra's already high standards even higher, and here's the proof.

Not only can you almost smell the engine oil on those brilliantly written ensembles depicting the Ellington orchestra's almost constant train journeying, the individual playing captures the idiom perfectly.

Trumpeter Tom MacNiven compounds irresistibly dirty lyricism with bluesy expression on the opening Black & Tan Fantasy, and as the repertoire traverses the Ellington decades to include the controversial but masterly Grieg interpretations and 1958's Queen's Suite, every track has its star or stars.

Alto saxophonist Ru Pattison on Prelude To A Kiss, trumpeter Ryan Quigley and clarinettist Martin Kershaw on Harlem Air Shaft: these and more are mighty performances absolutely in the spirit of Duke.

Rob Adams