Tonight started with the trio Neon, with Stan Sulzmann on tenor, Jim Hart on vibes and Kit Downes on piano (replacing Gwilym Simcock who plays on their CD Here To There). I heard Jim Hart the other day with Mike Janisch's quintet, but the others I hadn't heard before (or indeed heard of in the case of Stan Sulzmann). I liked their stuff - very listenable and melodic. The vibes could have been a bit louder and the sound guys were having some problems with white noise interference from somwhere, but the short set was very enjoyable. Stan Sulzmann has quite an edgy, breathy tone - the kind that makes me think he needs to blow some water out his reed *g*. I prefer a purer, smoother tone myself, but there was plenty of that to come later in the concert...
Second on was Liane Carroll, an award winning singer. I'll say upfront that I'm not a fan of her style (I'm not really into vocal jazz much at all), but the folk I was with loved her stuff. I find it easier to listen to if I pretend I'm listening to an instrument, rather than someone singing, but mostly I keep thinking, "Sing the tune! I can't make out the words!" Oh well... She has good chat though. I liked her composition about Dublin - I could picture where she wrote it too, having been there. It had echoes of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, although he is more folk than jazz. The stage was not ideally set up for her - it was set for the big band all night, so she had to sit with her back to the audience. It was a bit strange. It seems odd that they couldn't shift things about, since there was plenty of time between sets.
The final set of the night was what we'd really come to see - the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra playing director Tommy Smith's orchestration of Rhapsody In Blue, with Brian Kellock on piano. It didn't disappoint! I missed it earlier in the summer because it was on right after the end of the jazz summer school and I was knackered, with work the next day too. It's extended to 50-odd minutes, from the 20min or so of the original. Lots of familiar material, and some inspired deviations *g*. I particularly liked the latin section! There were lots of good solos. Tommy Smith's solo was very nice - beautiful tone (although in terms of tone, I think I like Konrad Wiszniewski's just a little bit better), but his control, particularly of the harmonics, is perfect. He also appears to have much more power and volume than the others without forcing it. Konrad's solo was fun - his harmonics sounded rather like a trumpet at times! Possibly my favourite solo, though, was Tom MacNiven's - unlike the other trumpets, he played quietly and lower - it was more about note choice and melody than power and high notes, although when he did play high notes, they were very centred and sweet.
Pete Johnson (one-time trumpet player at big band) was Brian Kellock's page turner for the night - gotta start your career somewhere :D ! Tommy Smith introduced him as one of the students on the new jazz course at the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) which he's running. He was also one of the finalists in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Jazz Musician of the Year (on piano) back at the beginning of summer.