Miles Ahead

COMPOSERS: Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Ingrid Jensen
LABELS: Spartacus
PERFORMER: SCOTTISH NATIONAL JAZZ ORCHESTRA/INGRID JENSEN
CATALOGUE NO: STS 005

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From the LP era onwards, the task of documenting jazz on record has often fallen to so-called independent labels.

The grand marques of Blue Note, Verve and Pacific Jazz may be under major-label jurisdiction now, but they started out as indies, and today the bulk of jazz recording is done under the auspices of the hundreds of entrepreneurs who went into the business primarily because they loved the music.

Just as impressive in its more tailored way is Miles Ahead, a performance of the Gil Evans score by Smith’s SCOTTISH NATIONAL JAZZ ORCHESTRA, with Ingrid Jensen handling the solo trumpet role which was once allotted to Miles Davis.

Fears that this might be a callow ghost of the illustrious original are soon dispelled – the SNJO actually handles Evans’s score with greater skill than the admittedly under-rehearsed players of the original, and if Jensen scarcely exorcises the cussed spirit of the original soloist, she brings her own insights to the occasion.

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It’s a powerful example of how repertoire playing will have an important role in the next wave of jazz progress, reinstating an important achievement as a living text.