Tommy Smith Quartet: Embodying the Light at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight sees this acclaimed quartet perform, as part of the Queen’s Hall’s 40th anniversary celebration as a music venue (QH@40), Tommy Smith’s musical tribute to Jazz Legend John Coltrane.
On its initial release on Spartacus records in 2017, Tommy Smith Quartet – Tommy Smith (saxophone), Sebastiaan de Krom (drums), Calum Gourlay (bass)) and Peter Johnstone (piano) received widespread, and well earned. praise for Embodying the Light with Tommy Smith marking the 50th anniversary of Coltrane’s death and his own 50th birthday.
This musical tribute is a multi-layered homage to John Coltrane and his music featuring Coltrane compositions including "Naima", "Dear Lord" and "Resolution" plus music closely associated with him, and of course new compositions by Tommy Smith himself, including the title work “Embodying The Light”.
Set up as an acoustic performance with the microphones on stage being only there for recording purposes, it was a pleasure to hear four musicians at this level with nothing between the sounds of their instruments and the natural acoustic space that The Queen’s Hall offers. With a set that was not a straight performance run through of the 2017 album, it was clear that the Tommy Smith Quartet was obviously pleasing fans of both John Coltrane and Tommy Smith’s music. The works here allowed for some impressive solo spots from all four musicians on stage and highlighting just what this highly regarded quartet is capable of delivering with music full of depth and colour.
Support for tonight’s show was from the Alan Benzie Trio. Winner of the BBC Scotland Young Jazz Musician at only 17, pianist/composer Alan Benzie is already creating for himself a reputation as a musician of innovation and vision.
With Alan Benzie (piano), Andrew Robb (bass) and and Marton Juhasz (drums), the trio are already enjoying success with their latest album "Little Mysteries" winning Best Album in the Scottish Jazz Awards 2018. Music from this and their previous album (Traveller's Tales) with inspiration from many sources including Japanese animation shows, clearly shows that these are musicians to keep a close eye on in the coming years.
Review by Tom King