Skip to content
Tommy Smith
Sax / Piano Duo

Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock

The Catstrand, New Galloway, Scotland 18 April 2014

Two of Scotland’s greatest jazz artists, saxophonist Tommy Smith and pianist Brian Kellock, team up to bring you a beautiful and imaginative duo. Not surprisingly, the press has applauded them with phrases such as ‘bewitching layers of delicacy’, full flight, spontaneous invention’ and ‘sheer artistry’. This dynamic duo performs tracks from their three CDs on Spartacus records, ‘Bezique’, ‘Symbiosis’ & ‘Whispering of the Stars’ which feature the great American & European songbook.

What is jazz?

Where did it come from and what does it all mean? These and other musical questions can be readily answered by experts like Brian Kellock (left) and Tommy Smith (right). Tommy Smith is well known to Scottish jazz fans as one of the world’s leading saxophonists and the founding director of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO). He is also a frontline educator and current artistic director of jazz at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Brian Kellock is an internationally recognized jazz pianist who has worked with many familiar names in jazz such as Art Farmer, Herb Geller and Stanley Turrentine.

Playing together as a duo, they have already surprised the jazz world and delighted countless fans with their wonderfully inclusive interpretations of jazz standards and Broadway melodies. Their readings of Moonlight in Vermont and Skylark have been described as “exquisite”;

“… (they) can play anything they can think (of), and increasingly think of things other people don’t”.

John Fordham

The Guardian

“..a scintillating partnership; dazzling; inventive and subtly captivating”.

It has been said that the duet is “one of the most exposed forms in jazz”, but where better to clearly hear the structure, poise and beauty of the most alluring popular music ever composed? On albums like Bezique and Symbiosis Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock have brought a bare truth to You Must Believe in Spring and found the keys to a patently powerful vehicle on Ladies in Mercedes. Next spring sees the release of their third collaboration The Whispering of the Stars and it promises to be something very special indeed. The mere mention of timeless classics such as Tenderly, Stardust and Moonlight Serenade should be enough to grab the attention. But fans who are able to catch them on tour this year will get a rare advance preview in a repertoire strongly featuring selections from this set.

Jazz is the music of memory, mystery and boundless imagination, but why are Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock so eminently able to communicate its enduring appeal? Well, many other well-qualified people such as those at The GuardianThe Observer and The Scotsman have described them as, “..a scintillating partnership; dazzling; inventive and subtly captivating”. Chris Parker in Ronnie Scott’s Magazine thought their work “luxuriously rich”. However, anyone lucky enough to have caught them performing Rhapsody in Blue with the SNJO at last month’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will also know them as thoughtful artists, passionate players and hugely entertaining people. The twelve thousand good folks present at The Montreal Jazz Festival can also testify to their world-class musicianship, natural rapport, easy charm and ready wit. (Michael Clark)

Whispering Of The Stars
  • Repertoire
  • Brian Kellock
  • Tommy Smith
  • You Must Believe In Spring (Michel Legrand)
  • Parker 51 (Stan Getz)
  • Moonlight Serenade (Glen Miller)
  • It Could Happen To You (Jimmy Van Heusen)
  • Armando’s Rhumba (Chick Corea)
  • Warm Valley (Duke Ellington)
  • Bernie’s Tune (Bernie Miller)
  • The Summer Knows (Michel Legrand)
  • Moose The Mooche (Charlie Parker)
  • Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael)
  • I’m In The Mood For Love (McHugh & Fields)
  • Ladies in Mercedes (Steve Swallow)
  • Tenderly (Walter Gross)
  • Bud Powell (Chick Corea)
  • Ballad Medley (incl. Sentimental Mood, Alfie, Pure Imagination, Moonlight in Vermont, A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing, Come Sunday, You Without a Song, Over the Rainbow, Round Midnight & Sophisticated Lady)
  • Moon Glow (Will Hudson)
  • You’ve Changed (Carl Fisher)
  • When You Wish Upon A Star (Leigh Harline)
  • Taking a Chance on Love (Vernon Duke)
  • Prelude to a Kiss (Duke Ellington)
  • The Meaning of the Blues (Bobby Troupe)
  • I Apologise (Ed Nelson)


Angel Eyes, Manhattan, Honeysuckle Rose, The Thrill is Gone, Nature Boy, Never Let Me Go

(b.1962) is widely regarded as one of the UK’s finest jazz pianists. Stylistically, he aligns himself with iconic figures such as Oscar Peterson or Monty Alexander, but he is a player who is equally at home in mainstream and contemporary jazz styles.

He graduated with a B.Music (Hons) from Edinburgh University in 1986 and since then he has established himself as one of the top piano players on the UK jazz scene. He has worked with jazz luminaries such as Red Rodney, Sheila Jordan, Art Farmer, Stanley Turrentine, Herb Geller and many others. Kellock also tours with Australian trumpeter James Morrison’s band and appears on their live album recorded at The New Morning Club in Paris.

His main project is his own trio, whose first incarnation appeared in 1988 as the rhythm section for seminal Scottish band The John Rae Collective. The current line-up, featuring Kenny Ellis on bass and John Rae on drums, has been performing together ever since and they enjoy a large and loyal following. His populist streak is strongly evidenced on the album Something’s Got To Give (1998), which showcases Kellock and his trio at their interpretive best on standards popularised by Fred Astaire.

In 2000, Brian Kellock was recognized as one of the top ten young, jazz pianists in the world by Classic CDmagazine and his album Live at Henry’s (2001) received widespread praise and enthusiastic reviews. He has also featured as a popular member, contributor and soloist with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Indeed, his performances on the SNJO’s readings of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Ellington classics in the acclaimed Spirit of Duke programme won widespread and unconditional praise.

Tommy Smith

(b.1967) is a leading light in European jazz, first and foremost as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, and latterly as the founder and current director of The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO). These career-defining achievements are framed by his status as an international recording artist; a composer and arranger of extraordinary ambition; and not least, as a jazz educator.

His prolific career began in earnest when, aged only sixteen, he recorded his first album Giant Strides. He was rewarded with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, an experience that has shaped his affirmative approach to jazz. Since then, he has made twenty-six solo albums as a leader for Blue NoteLinn and his own label Spartacus Records.

Smith has also earned the regard, support and friendship of the many respected jazz figures with whom he has collaborated and created great jazz. They include, but are not limited to, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny, Barron, Arild Andersen, John Scofield and Trilok Gurtu. His tenure with the SNJO has seen critically acclaimed performances and recordings of programmed and commissioned works including hugely popular treatments of Ellington, Gershwin, Weather Report and Miles Davis.

Tommy Smith is also founder/director of The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and is current Artistic Director of the first ever full-time jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He also holds three honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt, Glasgow Caledonian & Edinburgh Universities and a Professorship from the RCS. His latest album KARMA won him his sixth Scottish Jazz Award for album of the year in 2012.

long biography

Get in touch