The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, Scotland November 2021
Tommy Smith & Peter Johnstone – Tommy and the pianist from his ‘Coltrane’ quartet, Peter Johnstone play intimate, intensely musical duets featuring a repertoire drawn from the jazz standards canon and pieces by Chick Corea, Michael Brecker and more.
As audiences at events including Rochester Jazz Festival in New York and Buxton International Festival can attest, Tommy Smith & Peter Johnstone represent two generations of Scottish jazz mastery in world class performances.
Smith is one of the world’s leading saxophonists. A presence on the international jazz scene since his teenage years, when he toured the world with vibes virtuoso Gary Burton’s quintet, Smith has gone to record with the definitive jazz label, Blue Note and work with myriad jazz greats including Chick Corea, John Scofield, Randy Brecker, Dame Cleo Laine and Jack DeJohnette.
His compositions and soloist work extend to the symphonic arena, with albums including Modern Jacobite, recorded with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and as its founding director he has built the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra into an internationally regarded, award-winning big band. This ensemble’s collaborations now range from tributes to Frank Sinatra, with American singing star Kurt Elling, to new music for jazz soloists, traditional musicians and Japanese taiko drummers.
Tommy’s touring and recording commitments also include Norwegian double bass master Arild Anderson’s trio, which records for the prestigious ECM label and is widely regarded as one of the leading groups working in jazz today. His own group, the Tommy Smith Quartet: Embodying the Light, has received ecstatic responses for its programmes dedicated to Smith’s greatest influence, jazz legend John Coltrane.
The quartet’s pianist, Peter Johnstone has become an inspiration to Smith, providing the drive of rhythm section and almost orchestral colour in his accompaniments. A former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, Peter is the first student on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s internationally admired jazz course to return as a teacher. He features extensively with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, in the organ trio Prime and with saxophonists Helena Kay and Paul Towndrow and has won the much-coveted Peter Whittingham Jazz Prize with the Scottish band Square One. In addition to his jazz talents, he is also an accomplished classical pianist, having completed his Masters degree at the RCS in 2016.
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 Peter Johnstone (left) and Tommy Smith (right).
Tommy Smith is one of the world’s leading saxophonists and his duo with pianist Peter Johnstone brings together two generations of Scottish jazz mastery.
Tommy has worked with a galaxy of great jazz talents, including Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Mike Stern, John Scofield and Peter Erskine, so when he chooses the pianist in his current quartet, Peter Johnstone as a duo partner on the grounds of his strength and imagination as an accompanist and improviser, we must take note.
Peter Johnstone is a former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year and his exuberant, volcanic performances with Smith’s ‘Coltrane’ quartet, Embodying the Light, have drawn ecstatic praise from promoters and audiences alike.
As well as featuring extensively with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, with the organ trio Prime and with saxophonist Helena Kay, Peter has won the much-coveted Peter Whittingham Jazz Prize with the Scottish band Square One and is also an accomplished classical pianist, having completed his Masters degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2016.
““..The resulting music was truly stimulating, exciting and quietly moving by turns in two sets that seem to pass by in the blink of an eye..”