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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CD Review: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra featuring Bobby Wellins - Culloden Moor Suite

Bobby Wellins (ten) w. SNJO led by Tommy Smith.
(Review by Lance).
You've got to hand it to them, they do it every year! The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra never fail to come up with a winner. Last year it was In the Spirit of Duke, this year it's  Bobby Wellins' Culloden Moor Suite featuring the composer himself on tenor sax.
Originally recorded by Wellins' Quartet over 50 years ago this big band version (a specially commissioned orchestration by Florian Ross) captures the drama, the bloodyness of battle, the emotive air of tragedy on the killing fields that was Culloden Moor in 1746. Wellins pours his Scottish soul into this epic musical enactment of that dark historical chapter. Perhaps no one could portray it better than the Glasgow born saxophonist, nor could he find a more supportive army than the first battalion of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.
This is one of those suites that rise above genre like Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder; Under Milk Wood  by Stan Tracey -  Wellins' associate at the time of the original composition - or the Gil Evan's/Miles Davis collaborations. 
Wellins, one of the all-time British greats of the tenor saxophone, is as emotive in his playing as his compositions are in his writing, and the beauty of his tone contrasts perfectly with the aura of death that pervades.
The band are superb in support with Cosker's drums conveying a Highlandsian mood without losing the jazz element. Tom MacNiven makes telling contributions whilst pianist Hamilton is the voice of sympathy throughout.
A major work due for release on Sept. 15 (3 days before "that vote") on Spartacus Records.
Lance. 
Ryan Quigley, Jay Cameron, Lorne Cowieson, Tom MacNiven (tpts); Chris Greive, Kieran McLeod, Michael Owers, Lorna McDonald (tmb); Martin Kershaw, Paul Towndrow, Tommy Smith, Konrad Wiszniewski, Bill Fleming (saxes); Steve Hamilton )pno); Brodie Jarvie (bs); Alyn Cosker (dms); Florian Ross (arr).

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