On a snowy Saturday afternoon the audience at Kumu auditorium was pleasantly and euphorically transported to the atmosphere of the classic jazz repertoire. Scottish duo Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock performed a lineup of songs chosen among the most famous themes composed by jazz musicians as Michel Legrand, Vernon Duke, Glen Miller and many others. All the tracks arranged are also listed on their newest album “Whispering of the stars”, which is very classic on one side but arranged and interpreted in a personal and original way.
The duo is, no doubt, a meeting point between two different ways of interpreting jazz music: more traditional and mainstream for the pianist and more eclectic and adaptable for the saxophonist. Surely, this gives originality to their way of playing and arranging the tunes, thanks also to the bright improvisations and the intense dialogue between the instruments.
“You must believe in spring”, one of the themes by the French composer Michel Legrand, was the overture of the concert, whose quite sober melody, seemed to carry the audience to the ‘50s in some Parisian jazz cafè. However, in the same track, there have been some anticipations on the forthcoming tunes. Going on with the lineup, in fact, the duo proposed also more swing rhythms. Tracks as “I want to be happy”, “The summer knows”, “Taking a change on love”, just to name a few of them, gave to the auditorium a warm and cosy atmosphere, quite fizzy in some points. The tricks of Smith to pinch the keys of the saxophone and the ability of Kellock to give different tunes to the piano at the same time, created a feeling of lightness and serenity, a total lack of constraint, in a strict compliance with the atmosphere of the original lines. There was a point, the most touching in my opinion, where a deep cohesion between the instruments was heared. On one side Smith started playing the saxophone closed to the tail of the piano, in order to give more vibrations to the instrument, and on the other side, Kellock answered with deep echoes with the piano keys. This created, as I like to call, sophisticated movements in two voices between the instruments.
However, during the concert, the musicians didn’t forget their English humor. Between the tracks they interacted with the public in a special ironic way, as they joked about their typical Scottish skirt making people laugh. Also at the end of the concert they played a bit, as Smith left the stage making funny sounds with the saxophone just to entertain the audience and keep the atmosphere amusing.
To sum up, I think it’s really nice when, during a concert, there’s a balance between an elegant way of playing music and a funny way to perform it thanks to the good relationship between the musicians. No doubt, this gives rhythm and fervency to the performance and this Scottish duo was pleasantly able to create it.
Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock
29th of November 2014 at Tallinn Kumu Auditorium
Tommy Smith: saxophone
Brian Kellock: piano