27 April 2010
By Kenny Mathieson
TOMMY SMITH & THE SNJO: TORAH
* * * * [4 stars]
THE Scottish National Jazz Orchestra has been underrepresented on disc over its opening decade and a half, but that situation is fast improving.
This new studio recording follows last year's Rhapsody In Blue, and is another glowing testimony to the band and its director, Tommy Smith. Smith composed Torah in 2000 for American saxophonist Joe Lovano and the SNJO, and only began to take on the solo role in 2006, but he brings both his distinctive musical voice and a composer's authority to a demanding but rewarding work.
The music is inspired by the opening five books of the Old Testament, and its gloriously Coltrane-like opening clearly indicates the musical and spiritual currents which run throughout a diverse and fervent piece.