Led by Arild Andersen on the double bass, Tommy Smith on saxophone, and Patrice Héral with the drums, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra create an up-beat, but slightly repetitive, night of music that promises a trip through the stories of the most popular Norse gods.
Four composers were given a suite each, building a personalised soundtrack for Frigg, Thor, Odin, and Loki, however it becomes difficult to distinguish between the suites until the conclusion of the evening, in which Loki’s themes are slower and possess a cunning sexiness to them. The others appear to compete with one another for the most heroic and complex composition, and despite the programme detailing the significant ideas that are are to be conveyed throughout, they unsuccessfully blend into one long piece.
Adapted from traditional Norwegian folk music, the transposition of these ancient stories into loud jazz proves to be difficult, and the original heritage seems to be lost in favour of brassy solos. Vinaccia drums like a man possessed, full of somewhat intimidating energy as he provides the percussion for the band, Smith’s skills with a saxophone clearly demonstrate his confidence, and Andersen’s pizzicato bars manage an impressive speed that, as a former string player, I wince at. Their mastery of the craft, and that of the supporting band, is highly commendable.
If this had been a showcase of musical talent as opposed to a night based around a particular theme, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more. The lack of commitment to intent became distracting, and although the performances were entertaining to watch, it was missing an extra something that would have made it stand out from a standard night of music.
PHOTO: The Queen’s Hall