Tommy Smith

COMPOSERS: Tommy Smith
WORKS: Beasts of Scotland
PERFORMER: Tommy Smith (ss, ts); Guy Barker (tpt, flumpet, flugel); Andy Panayi (f, as); Steve Hamilton (p, syn); Alec Dankworth (b); Tom Gordon (d, perc)
CATALOGUE NO: AKD 054 (distr. Polygram)
Previous projects by Tommy Smith have included compositions sparked by the paintings of Joan Miró and the poetry of Norman MacCaig. Beasts of Scotland takes both poetry – a series of ten poetic portraits of said fauna by Edwin Morgan – and painting – ten oils of same by Neil Boyce – as its inspiration. Although there are numerous passages of relatively straightahead jazz blowing from both Smith and his superb front-line collaborators, the suite as a whole is notable more for the sophistication and maturity of Smith’s writing than as a vehicle for unfettered improvisation. While not strictly programmatic, relying as it does for its effects on vivid but nonetheless subtle evocations of mood and atmosphere through the intelligent use of temporal and textural variety, the music does directly refer to its subject animals on the odd tenor-saxophone wolf-call or ensemble free-for-alls mimicking the struggles of a diver caught by a conger eel, and is a more than worthy successor to both of Smith’s previous, highly acclaimed, sextet projects, Paris and Misty Morning and No Time. CP