ODIN, his wife Frigg, Thor and Loki are the inspiration for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s latest concert, entitled Norse Myths, which you can hear at the Queen’s Hall on Saturday, 23 March.
Norse Myths begins the new SNJO concert season in earnest with an astonishing journey into strange magical realms and extraordinary new adventures in jazz.
A new commission built around ancient tales, improvisational instincts and Nordic folk song, the result is a unique and beguiling experience.
Scottish audiences can be forgiven if they are unfamiliar with Nordic songs but the Norse deities are well known.
They are part of a European bardic tradition that has been passed down through the centuries, and translated many times for the audiences of the day.
Certainly, the life and death struggles of fickle gods, charismatic goddesses and belligerent giants strongly persist in modern storytelling, not least as a mirror of the human experience.
Odin, Frigg, Thor and Loki are enigmatic, if not contradictory, characters with the capacity to fire the imagination, whatever form they take.
They are ideal subjects for contemporary, shape shifting music based on tunes like Et Lidet Barn Saa Lystelight (A Little Child So Merry), or the jaunty Ragnhild, named after the maid who was much admired from afar.
Performed by European jazz giants Arild Andersen (bass), Paolo Vinaccia (drums/percussion) and SNJO director Tommy Smith on saxophone, already acknowledged as a cutting edge trio in their own right, they are a major force in frontier jazz.
In Norse Myths, they bring their artistry, experience and collective understanding to this treasure trove of rich and evocative material.
SNJO regulars will be familiar with the work of guest composers Florian Ross, Geoffrey Keezer and Bill Dobbins, who have all contributed arrangements to the orchestra’s repertoire and are joined on this project by Norwegian jazz stalwart Øyvind Brække.
SNJO: Norse Myths, Queen’s Hall, Clerk Street, Saturday 23 March, 7.30pm, £23, 0131-668 2019