Orchestra Takes “Rivers” on the Road

 The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra opens its latest season by taking the vital, soul-stirring music from its latest, internationally acclaimed album, Where Rivers Meet on tour from Thursday 29th September to Saturday 1st October.

 Recorded in a single session at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Where Rivers Meet celebrates the music of four saxophonists whose work reflected turbulent times in America during the 1960s, including the Civil Rights struggle, and whose legacies continue to grow seven decades on.

 “Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton and Dewey Redman were regarded as mavericks when they emerged on the scene yet many of their own compositions and pieces with which they were associated drew on the blues and gospel music and have passed into the standard jazz repertoire,” says saxophonist and SNJO artistic director, Tommy Smith. “Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman, for example, is played by jazz students and jazz musicians the world over.”

Where Rivers Meet consists of four specially arranged suites, each dedicated to one of the four saxophone heroes, and has drawn praise from across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. In reviewing the album, the UK’s leading jazz magazine, Jazzwise was moved to describe the SNJO as “a benchmark of excellence in British jazz” and online magazine Jazzviews asserted that Where Rivers Meet is “an absolutely magnificent recording.”

 The forthcoming concerts will feature Tommy Smith himself as soloist in the Albert Ayler suite. Fellow saxophonists Konrad Wiszniewski, Martin Kershaw and Adam Jackson pay homage to Dewey Redman, Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman respectively.

 “These are new arrangements, written by long-time associates of the orchestra, Geoffrey Keezer, Paul Harrison and Paul Towndrow, and myself,” says Smith. “There are intricate elements as we negotiate orchestrations of what were essentially smaller band compositions but it’s not a step into the unknown. Familiar themes including the ballad The Very Thought of You, the spiritual Goin’ Home, which informed Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and even When the Saints Go Marching In all feature. We have a ball playing “the Saints” and hope the audiences will enjoy it as much as we do.”   

Future concerts in the SNJO season will feature the music of Duke Ellington, rising star singer Georgia Cecile and the internationally revered pianist Gwilym Simcock.

Where Rivers Meet dates and venues

Thu 29 September: Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall – tkts 0131 668 2019

Fri 30 September: Aberdeen, Queen’s Cross Church – tkts 01224 641122

Sat 1 October: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – tkts 0141 353 8000

Adam Roberts

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