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Album of the week:
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with Bobby Wellins, Culloden Moor Suite (Spartacus)
Bobby Wellins’ Culloden Moor Suite was in danger of being forgotten when, in 2011, SNJO director Tommy Smith commissioned German pianist-composer Florian Ross to provide a new arrangement of the work that Glasgow-born Wellins had been inspired to write in 1961 after reading John Prebble’s account of the last battle to be fought on British soil and its chilling aftermath.
Now this recording puts it in its rightful place as a great jazz musician’s response to an event that affected him in a way that makes the local universal.
You won’t need to have stood among the cairns on the battlefield to feel the emotion that Wellins’ tenor saxophone conveys with typically austere soulfulness on the masterly Epilogue, a piece that’s as haunting as Wellins’ famous contributions to Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood, and the earlier March, with Wellins pacing his solo with measured magnificence and trumpeter Tom MacNiven adding bluesy fire, is superb, grooving big band jazz in any language.
From The Sunday Herald, September 14, 2014.
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