'EFFEREVESCENCE' by The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra
The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra (TSYJO) pops all the corks in a magnum-sized case of fizzing jazz with Effervescence; a brand new CD out now on Spartacus Records.
This electrifying recording is based on vintages established by Woody Herman, Jerome Kern, Chick Corea, Benny Golson and Dizzy Gillespie, and it comes laced with sparkling, fresh ingredients from newcomer Sean Gibbs, and respected arrangers Florian Ross and Christian Jacob.
It's been fourteen years since the inception of TSYJO, and in that time the orchestra has been a platform for some of the most exciting young jazz musicians in the UK. The present ensemble includes multiple award-winners and critically acclaimed individuals who have already won recognition and approval from fans, commentators and peers alike.
Effervescence is the third album from a young jazz orchestra that has grown considerably in strength, depth and ambition, and this studio recording naturally bubbles with their trademark energy and enthusiasm. Yet there is also self-assurance and audacity in the way that solos are taken by so many of these assertive young players.
There are strong measures of bravado, bite and kick under Tommy Smith's sure direction, but there are also infusions of eloquent expression, warmth, intimacy and feeling. All of these strengths combine to striking effect on Tam O' Shanter, an imaginative new composition from the pen of trumpeter/composer Sean Gibbs.
Elsewhere, the arranging skills of Ross and Jacob map the way through the minds of Corea, Davis and Kern, and point into spaces where instrumentalists may roam at leisure. These directions take the musicians into zones where the spirits of ancient Egypt and the icons of the jazz age dwell together on tunes like Davis' Nefertiti and Corea's Bud Powell.
It seems fitting too that Gillespie's Things to Come should feature here, for TSYJO are all about tomorrow. Dizzy's headlong rush into the future of jazz perhaps anticipated the interpretive embrace of successive generations, so ably personified by the players on this album.
The versatility of this young orchestra is also underscored by the inclusion of the droll, almost casual genius of Corea's Humpty Dumpty and Kern's evergreen melody The Way You Look Tonight. Add a smart dash of style with Benny Golson's Blues March, and the sweet tang of Woody Herman's Apple Honey and you have the recipe for making great jazz.
The TSYJO represents much more than the future aspirations of Scottish jazz. The music on Effervescence demonstrates that jazz is an art form that is passed through hands from one generation to another. It may be distilled, matured or replenished on the way, but its resilience is proven in the performances on this CD.