“The notion that an album will last beyond an artist’s lifetime, as in the case of many classics from jazz’s Golden Years in the 1950s and 1960s, seems a thing of the past. Yet Modern Jacobite, by the strength of Tommy Smith’s epic ‘Jacobite’ suite, certainly has the potential to last beyond Smith’s lifetime. In any event, ‘Jacobite’ is a masterful piece of music.”
– Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise Magazine.
“There will be few better tenor saxophone records this year.
In fact there will be few better jazz records this year.
Probably no better ‘classical’ records this year.
Truth is, there will be few better records this year.”
– Lance Liddle, Bebop Spoken Here.
“Jacobite is his first composition on a symphonic scale, its three movements, subtitled with the dates of the Jacobite risings in 1689, 1715 and 1745, dramatically evoking the swagger, carnage and ultimate tragedy of these events… A stormy orchestral introduction to Jacobite heralds beefier stuff, eventually giving way to calm into which Smith’s rich-toned saxophone – the “main narrator” – enters with unhurried elegance…there is much to enjoy here, and any historical gloom is counteracted by Smith’s vivid re-imaginings of Chick Corea’s beguiling Children’s Songs.”
– Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman
“Modern Jacobite is an impressive piece of work… . Smith’s influences (particularly Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky) are readily apparent, and he shares with them the ability to orchestrate with utter clarity and transparency – there’s a heartstoppingly beautiful passage four minutes or so into the second movement. And what a fantastic ending, a giddily exciting mixture of Stravinsky and Duke Ellington….fantastically realised, in punchy, atmospheric sound.”
– Graham Rickson, Arts Desk
“Smith returns to that period of Scottish history with an altogether grander work. It’s not a jazz release per se, but a proper symphonic composition albeit with a central performance from one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone voices in 21st century jazz…..There are clear references to Scottish folk melodies, and while the writing is more strongly classical in its conception, Smith’s own playing strides the overlap between classical writing and jazz improvisation with his customary swagger…..Tommy Smith is capable of creating both immense power and sublime beauty with his saxophone, and with Modern Jacobite he extends those qualities throughout the symphony orchestra. It’s a most impressive achievement.”
– Peter Bacon, The Jazz Breakfast
“If you have been engaged at all with jazz music in the modern era, the voice of the soloist, and composer of the title piece, on this orchestral disc, is unmistakable. In the way of these things, we in Scotland perhaps under-appreciate just how distinctive a saxophonist Tommy Smith is, because he is one of our own. And the same holds true of the half-hour three-movement piece he has contributed.
It stands as part of a continuum, from Smith’s collaboration with Edwin Morgan on Beasts of Scotland to the Old Testament fire of Torah, in that it could be no-one else’s writing, and he brings that individuality to his arrangements of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs which bracket it.
But the third truth you can hear is that this is distinctly the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Under the baton of Clark Rundell, the musicians of the SSO have invested their individual and collective musicality in this disc, responding to the fact that Smith has given them plenty to do.”
– Keith Bruce, The Herald
“‘Jacobite’ seems to have been Smith’s response to Scotland’s independence referendum in 2014, but placing it in the context of Scottish history, it contains three movements inspired by the failed Jacobite uprising…and the last part refers to the Jacobite’s defeat at Culloden in 1745. The final movement of ‘Jacobite’ by saxophonist Tommy Smith, tapping into Stravinsky and Duke Ellington in that final section from the sound of it. I’ve always enjoyed Smith’s powerfully earthy sound, and hearing him in this context is interesting; containing his improvisatory fluency as he explores his musical ideas with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Clark Rundell. (It’s) not a concerto for sax, Smith makes that clear…he’s the narrator, and other orchestral instruments get their time in the spotlight, but he’s a far from inexperienced orchestrator, and it shows. The recording opens with an arrangement of Rachmaninov’s ‘Vocalise’, and ends with a mixture of Chick Corea’s ‘Children’s Songs’ and Tommy Smith’s improvisations…and the recorded sound is as pungent as the playing.”
– Andrew McGregor, Record Review, BBC Radio3 (BBC iPlayer episode link)
“His thirty-minute, original symphonic work ‘Jacobite’ …..is a violent, dramatic, lyrical and exciting piece, largely inspired by a traumatic period in 18th century Scottish history.
Here, we bear witness to Smith’s great creativity, and he demonstrates that he is a composer, arranger – and soloist of course – who is capable of reaching the highest international standard.
The album opens with a lovely version of Rachmaninoff’s gorgeous ‘Vocalise’, and ends with a collection of Chick Corea’s “Children’s Songs” – all arranged with some new music by Smith himself.
Taken as a whole then, ‘Modern Jacobite’ is a startling masterpiece created by one of the great saxophonists of modern times, Tommy Smith.”
– Tor Hammerø, Hammerø Blogg, Norway
Other Media and Links
Tor Hammerø’s review (see above quote) in the original Norwegian. http://torhammero.blogg.no/1474826757_for_en_musikant.html
Tommy Smith talks to BBC Music Magazine about this classical music listening pleasures in the September 2016 issue of the magazine (see the downloadable PDF below).
BBC Radio Scotland – Extracts from the recording received airplay several times on Scotland’s premier jazz show The Jazz House.
London Jazz News- Featured Article
BBC Music Magazine – A special feature about Tommy Smith with Neil McKim (see above)
BBC Radio Ulster – Tommy Smith guested on Walter Love’s Jazz Club show, broadcast on 24th August 2016. TOMMY SMITH TALKS TO WALTER LOVE ABOUT ‘MODERN JACOBITE’ – “The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are in the Jazz Club along with tenor saxophonist and composer Tommy Smith. Tommy discussed his new major work Modern Jacobite.”