The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra has enjoyed a long, hugely rewarding relationship with Duke Ellington’s music. The album In the Spirit of Duke, recorded on tour in Scotland during October 2012, captures the internationally acclaimed, award-winning orchestra at its best, delivering the authentic Ellington experience in a repertoire spanning the jazz legend’s entire career.
SNJO artistic director Tommy Smith set out to give audiences as close to the authentic Ellington orchestra sound and live experience as possible. Attention was paid to every Ellington period detail, including the stage set-up and the sartorial elegance, using specially sourced period brass mutes and playing scores often specially transcribed from Ellington live performances.
Audience and critical response to both concerts and recording was overwhelmingly positive and with the addition of vocalist Lucy-Anne Daniels, In an Ellington Mood continues to demonstrate that the music is indeed true to the original spirit while sounding newly minted.
Hits including Black & Tan Fantasy, Concerto for Cootie, Harlem Airshaft and a ravishing tenor-piano duet of in The Single Petal of a Rose sit alongside movements from The Queen’s Suite and extracts from Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn’s daring re-interpretation of Edvard Griegʼs Peer Gynt Suite. The gospel background, vivid storytelling and swinging creativity of Lucy-Anne Daniels add an extra-special ingredient.
“As our audiences become younger,” says Tommy Smith, “it’s important that they too experience the live power and finesse of a big band playing what is undoubtedly the equal of Mozart, Bach or Beethoven.”
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