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Tommy Smith

Modern Jacobite

Tommy Smith and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

released: 2016

Label: Spartacus Records

Catalogue no.: STS022

About the album

Leading European jazz saxophonist, composer and educator Tommy Smith boldly breaks new ground with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on ‘Modern Jacobite’, an exceptional recording featuring his symphonic work “Jacobite”, alongside personal re-imaginings of Rachmaninoff and Chick Corea.

The centrepiece of this striking album is an evocative painting in music, ‘Jacobite’. Tommy Smith composed this ambitious symphonic piece for saxophone and orchestra, and it is deeply imbued with dramatic tension, extraordinary beauty and inflamed passion. ‘Jacobite’ is also musically inventive and finely balanced as an intricate structure, an articulate narrative and an exceptionally visceral piece of original music.

The CD opens with a shimmering interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s ‘Vocalise’, in which Smith’s saxophone emotes a range of complex feelings in a devastatingly romantic orchestration. “Vocalise’ is among the best-loved of the composer’s famous ‘Fourteen Songs’, and Smith brings the subtlest nuances of improvisation to bear upon its melodic richness.

The third element is a portmanteau of compositions ostensibly by Chick Corea, entitled simply, ‘Children’s Songs’. It consists of Corea’s original tunes alternating with Smith’s re-imaginings of Corea’s childhood memoirs. These variations are delivered with improvisational verve, and linked by the connective tissue of new music composed by Tommy Smith.

The outcome is a high watermark in the accomplished career of one of Europe’s leading jazz musicians. It is also a welcome addition to the growing repertoire of modern musical works that blur distinctions, and break down barriers to musical understanding.


The association with the BBC orchestra is both refreshing and a highly original piece of work.

A. D. K. Ogston

Great music. HUGE sound from the BBC SSO on Smith’s own symphonic work, the rather epic ‘Jacobite’.

Steve Conlon


Ricky Kej