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Young jazz stars join top orchestra for landmark concert

Anoushka Nanguy and Liam Shortall are Scottish Jazz Award winners.

Scottish Jazz Award winners Anoushka Nanguy and Liam Shortall will be in the trombone section as the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra plays a 25th anniversary concert online on Saturday December 5.

The two young, Glasgow-based musicians won three titles between them at the awards ceremony in October, with Anoushka, 21, taking the Rising Star award and Liam, 24, winning the Best Band and Best Album awards with his group, corto-alto.

Orchestra director, saxophonist Tommy Smith, says: “We’ve always created opportunities for new, young talents, as well as working with well-established names in the SNJO, and it's especially appropriate that this concert, marking our quarter-century, puts the spotlight on the future of jazz in addition to celebrating the music that’s gone before.

"We’ll have a third notable young talent with us in Kieran MacLeod who has a great future in store as an arranger.”

Smith formed the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 1995 as part of a plan for jazz development in Scotland.

Having toured the world with vibes master Gary Burton in his teens and as a bandleader in his own right, Smith noticed that many countries had a national jazz orchestra and most had at least one conservatoire level jazz course. Scotland, he felt, needed and deserved the same.

Both of these ambitions have now been met. The jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been up and running since 2009 and with the earlier addition of his own youth jazz orchestra, Smith has seen a good number of high quality musicians emerging in Scotland.

The latest evidence of this is saxophonist Matt Carmichael, a student on the RCS jazz course, who reached the recent BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 final.

The 25th anniversary concert will feature music from across the SNJO’s extensive history. Items from the Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Buddy Rich tributes the orchestra has staged will be included.

Anoushka Nanguy is one of two young award winners taking part.
Anoushka Nanguy is one of two young award winners taking part.

The programme will also contain a Scottish element in Robert Burns’ My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose and part of the Culloden Moor Suite, which the orchestra recorded with its composer, the late Glasgow-born tenor saxophonist, Bobby Wellins.  

“It’s a great pity that, during this special year for us, we’ve hardly been able to add to the orchestra’s live highlights, which have included performances at Ronnie Scott’s and at leading jazz festivals in the UK, Norway, France and the U.S.,” says Smith. “Because the essence of jazz is creating music in the moment."

Smith's aim with the anniversary concert, for which tickets can be booked at  https://livestream.snjo.co.uk/, is to give the audience as close to the real live jazz experience as possible. 

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

"We’ll be observing social distance regulations, so we’ll line up further away from each other than usual,” he says. “At the same time, though, we'll be doing everything we can to relay the immediacy and intimacy of an in-person jazz concert.”

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