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Sunday, September 02, 2012

CD Review: Arild Andersen / Tommy Smith and The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra - Celebration (ECM 279 0947)


(Review by Wes)
I've been spending a bit of time listening to the Arild Andersen ECM 40th anniversary Celebration album recently and it’s not hard to recognize that you are listening to musicians of an exceptionally high standard playing at the top of their game.
I don’t think I know anybody interested in Jazz music that doesn’t enjoy the thrill of a big band and would almost surely agree that the live setting is really where it’s at, in all the swinging, screaming, glory and splendour.
So appropriately, the six-track album arranged by Norwegian Double Bassist Arild Andersen for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra under the Direction of Tommy Smith is a live recording from October 2010 at Stevenson Hall, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
What begins as a fairly standard big band record with Dave Holland's May Dance very quickly snakes, twists and turns and really explores the dynamism of Jazz forms to climax with Andersen's own divine composition Independency and a sterling rendition of Keith Jarrett's My Song. The music is quite simply a joy and delight but what is really stunning is this big bands ability to create an intimacy and delicacy that you can feel between the compositions, the music, the players and the audience.
A fabulous album for those new to ECM or long time followers.
Wesley Stephenson

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