The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In the Spirit of the Duke

Research output: Performances, compositions and other non-textual formsCD/DVD/other digital output



This digital release encapsulates for a wider audience the insights that were developed and shared in a concert series undertaken by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO), led by the researcher. In the Spirit of the Duke presents an historically informed performance and recording of music from across Duke Ellington’s output, in Ellington’s own arrangements, or those of his long-term collaborator William “Billy” Strayhorn. It includes rarely-performed works such as Ellington and Strayhorn’s versions of music by Greig. The researcher curated the concert series and this CD, directing all aspects of the production; he also plays tenor saxophone throughout.The exploration of historically-informed practice included the sourcing, preparation and in some cases transcription of the original arrangements, the selection of instruments and mutes, the arrangements for live performance (which recreated, as far as possible, those typical of Ellington’s time, with no amplification and no use of monitors; the musicians also wore evening dress and came to the front of the ensemble for their solos) and, in the creation of this disc, the setup for recording (which was accomplished with the use of nine ribbon mics, also replicating as far as possible the recording techniques used by Ellington).The creative constraints set by the desire to engage in an historically informed performance and recording, made these concerts and this recording especially charged for the members of the SNJO, ensuring that this is much more than a recreation of inimitable classics – this aspect was noted in reviews, including that of the Guardian, which commented: “An exhilarating re-enactment of Ellington’s gigs … it catches a hot contemporary band in real time, creatively interpreting in the free-spirited way that only the best jazz musicians can”.


Original languageEnglish
PublisherSpartacus Records
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 2012