It’s time to brighten up the darkness of December and ease those frosty gospel blues, as the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) welcomes you to swing to two big band impresarios, both of whom were pivotal to the evolution of orchestral jazz and defined an era or two.
The music, personas and creativity of royal maestros Count Basie and Duke Ellington propelled countless jazz musicians through decades of ambition, war, achievements, and awe-inspiring jazz. Nevertheless, there were career milestones that stood out as exemplary.
The SNJO have selected two landmark recordings for their concert at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, on Friday, December 7, at 7.30pm – Count Basie’s The Atomic Mr Basie (1958), and Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige (1944).
The SNJO are well accustomed to playing historic suites in full, and past performances have showcased Ellington’s works including Magnolia Suite, Toot’s Suite, Nut Cracker Suite, Peer Gynt Suite, Deep South Suite, and Far East Suite.
Now, for the first time in the SNJO’s 23-year history, The Atomic Mr Basie and Black, Brown and Beige will be heard in concerts, and will trigger an inescapable chain reaction of feet tapping and heads bobbing.
In 1958, the Count Basie Orchestra was extremely popular despite the alleged demise of the big bands.
Basie may have been a successful entertainer and a household name, but The Atomic Mr Basie demonstrated the Count’s primary expertise remained firmly at the seriously explosive end of the jazz spectrum.
The album, known affectionately to jazz buffs as ‘Atomic Basie’, is stuffed with standout tracks such as Splanky, Midnite Blue, Fantail and Whirlybird, tunes that remain definitive examples of the natural synergy between post-war swing and modern orchestral jazz..
Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige is a different kind of jazz, one that is strong and affirmative, yet soul-searching and profound.
It places race and identity at the centre of a musical and intellectual enquiry, so it’s perhaps no surprise that it contains powerful emotions in tunes like Work Song, Come Sunday and West Indian Dance.
Great swing means everything in orchestral jazz and these repertoires of the Count and the Duke have it in enormous bundles of unbridled joy.
For tickets and more information, see the SNJO website