The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra playing the songs of Mancini and Mandel featuring Joe Locke and Kenny Washington brought a slice of classic Hollywood film music to The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh for this show.
The music of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mandel is a project that Joe Locke has been developing in ever increasing complexity with Kenny Washington over many years of performances, and through his close friendship with SNJO’s director Tommy Smith, this series of performances are in his own word the projects at its “full circle”.
When you take music (and songs) like “Emily”, “Shadow of Your Smile”, “Suicide Is Painless” and “Moon River” (to name a few) that have become standards and add in one of the world’s best vibraphone players - Joe Locke, that five octave voice of Kenny Washington, and the SNJO then you know you are in for a great evening of music. Some great solos during the evening too, with big applause from the audience for Tommy Smith (Sax), Alyn Cosker (Drums) and Konrad Wiszniewski (Sax).
Adapting the musical arrangements to fit into the evening’s performance and the SNJO is itself a project of note, and credit for this goes to Joe Locke, Ryan Cohan, Bill Dobbins, Christian Elsasser, Geoffrey Keezer and Florian Ross.
A big part of the pleasure of this show though, apart from listening to the music, was watching how Joe Locke and Kenny Washington perform together. This is one of the great musical partnerships out there and Joe knows (as he was so often happy to point out), just how lucky he is to have a singer with the vocal abilities of Kenny to bring words to his music, and that partnership was perhaps best illustrated on two of my favourite songs from the evening – two compositions by Joe Locke himself – Verrazano Moon (a tribute to departed friend and fellow musician Bob Berg), and “Available In Blue”.
The SNJO performs a wide variety of music and musical styles over any given year and our next musical adventure with them is in April with “Porgy & Bess” and “Sketches of Spain”.
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Review by Tom King