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The SNJO: A Tribute To Buddy Rich

Last night we went to see the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra's tribute to Buddy Rich, the late drummer (no pun intended!) at The Queen's Hall in Edinburgh. Normally we'd go to the Glasgow concert (tonight, Sat 21st RSAMD) but we couldn't make it. I'd not been to The Queen's Hall before - it looked like a converted church or similar. The acoustics weren't great from our seats actually - we were right at the side, almost as far forward as the band, and the sound lacked some distinction. That plus the tour-de-force type of music on offer wasn't the best combination!

The playing was excellent as always though. The band played the first number twice, having forgotten to press the record button initially - doh! I don't know why the sound guy wasn't in charge of the recording. It was slightly tighter the second time. Alyn Cosker, as the drummer, was the featured player of the night, and he was very good, although I'd say not quite as impressive as in the gig we saw with him, Tommy Smith and Arild Andersen at last year's Edinburgh Jazz Festival. This gig was more about "louderlouderfasterfaster"!

There was one ballad though, which was played by Tommy Smith. It was very beautiful and there was some outrageously controlled and difficult playing from Tommy Smith, particularly running from the bottom register right up into harmonics at piano and keeping it beautiful and smooth all the way. Quite something. When you hear Tommy Smith play, you realise he is a league ahead of most of the other players in the band in terms of technicality and musicality.

Ryan Quigley on trumpet was blasting out the top notes as always - his purpose seemed to be mainly to squeak :). Chris Grieve on trombone also played some exceedingly high stuff in the Porgy & Bess suite, but unlike Ryan Quigley looked zen-like when playing it, as if it was not effort at all, even when he missed one of the highest notes (a note that should probably be outlawed on trombone). Lorna MacDonald played a lovely bass trombone solo also in that piece ("Bess, You Is My Woman Now", if I recall correctly). It was right in the bottom register, and those are hard notes to pitch, never mind make them sound nice, and she managed it well, although it wasn't loud enough from our seats. The sound guy occasionally took a little while to figure out who was playing and adjust the mics accordingly, and it seemed that the trombone mics weren't quite close enough - Phil O'Malley's solos were a little quiet too. But it could just have been the position of our seats.

The rest of the band were all on fine form, and it was an enjoyable concert indeed, although I haven't been so tired in a long time! Weekday gigs are tough on me *g*. It finished at 10:40pm, and we made the 11pm train home by about a minute! There were two pretty drunk (young) business types in the seats in front of us who had a carry out bottle of white wine from Tesco and spent quite a lot of time loudly talking about it and trying to chat up the lady opposite, boasting how they were "almost" chartered accounts, and how the banking crisis was definitely not their fault. They were plenty amusing for the trip home!

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