The orchestra was led by baritone sax player Joe Temperley who left Fife many years ago for America and indeed replaced Harry Carney in Ellington's orchestra. He now plays with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
The music was excellent, if rather quiet - the band were generally not mic-ed up, and quite a few of the solos could really have done with it, especially Joe Temperley's. There was excellent playing all round, and it was good to hear a range of pieces played by Ellington's orchestra over the decades. I noticed a lot of the pieces finished on a very quiet chord - I wonder if that was Temperley's choice, or part of the actual arrangements?
One of the stories Joe Temperely related was a jazz competition they run for schools over in America in part because Wynton Marsalis complained that all the school bands play is the theme from Rocky and he wanted to get them playing "real" music! Well, Ryan Quigley's face was a bit of a picture, since that was one of the pieces his own big band played last week in Glasgow and they were loving it!
For two numbers they had a guest player, a 17 year old tenor and clarinet (and presumably other saxes) player from America. He was excellent - apparently he's won an improvisation award for the past four years running. He was also very tall. Anyway, he's going to study physics, not music (I approve *g*) - perhaps you don't need to study music if you're that good already and are known in the right circles.
During a few other numbers, there were some fast moves from Alyn Cosker on drums when the odd drumstick escaped him mid-piece. Smooth. I'm always in awe of how drummers manage to continue without a hiccup while getting another stick from wherever they secrete them...
So, a great concert, and well worth it. My only complaint is the venue. This is the second gig I've been to there now (the previous was the SNJO's tribute to Buddy Rich), and while the sound was a lot clearer this time, it was still poor. Too quiet, by far - it just doesn't project in there. And half the seats in the place must have a restricted view. Finally, it was really hot upstairs - I think quite a few folk had to leave early because of the heat.