Jazzman Tommy looks to his inspiration as he turns 50

INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed saxophonist Tommy Smith brings his new quartet to Musselburgh's Brunton Theatre on Thursday, direct from a sold out concert at the world famous Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London.

Tuesday, 24th October 2017, 2:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:29 am
Tommy Smith

Smith’s tour marks two anniversaries - the 50th anniversary of the death of jazz icon and his greatest inspiration, saxophonist John Coltrane, and Smith’s 50th birthday.

The new quartet was formed specifically to play the music of Coltrane, a challenge Smith describes as daunting.

“I recorded one of Coltrane’s tunes on my very first album, Giant Strides when I was 16, but I’ve never felt ready to do his music justice with a full tribute album or concert before,” he says.

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“I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle the Coltrane project even now, because he was so far ahead of his time, but these musicians I have with me are some of the best I’ve ever played with.

“They really inspire me to try and take my playing to the next level.”

Smith’s quartet features two of his prodigies from his youth orchestra, the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year 2012, pianist Peter Johnstone, and bassist Calum Gourlay, who now features regularly with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.

On drums is the hugely experienced Sebastiaan de Krom, who has previously worked with Herbie Hancock and Jamie Cullum.

In concert they play without amplification, an approach Smith has long favoured.

“I’ve nothing against amplified music,” he says. “It just feels more natural to play acoustically.”

Tommy Smith Quartet: Embodying the Light, Brunton, Musselburgh, tomorrow, 7.30pm, £16, 0131-665 2240