SNJO Nu-Age Sounds


In recent years a significant number of young Scottish jazz musicians have gained national and international attention.


Scotland has a long and proud history of producing world class jazz players, including saxophonist Bobby Wellins, trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar and guitarist Jim Mullen, to name but three. Great though these examples are, however, they all moved south or further afield to make their reputations.


What marks out the current generation is that they have decided to stay in Scotland and often create music that reflects their surroundings That this is by no means a disadvantage can be seen in pianist Fergus McCreadie’s nomination for the cross-genre Mercury Music Prize. National acclaim has also seen saxophonist Helena Kay, pianist Peter Johnstone and Fergus McCreadie, again, winning the much-coveted, UK-wide Peter Whittingham Jazz Award and bassist Ewan Hastie winning the BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022 title.


The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s founder and artistic director, Tommy Smith wanted both to showcase the achievements of this generation and to bring orchestral jazz, with its long history, to a young audience who might not have experienced this rich tradition before.


Of the eight musicians – all multi-award winners – who are highlighted in these Nu-Age Sounds concerts, six have come through the jazz course that Tommy Smith oversees at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland: Matt Carmichael, Noushy (Anoushka Nanguy) and Liam Shortall (aka corto.alto) joining Fergus McCreadie, Peter Johnstone and Ewan Hastie.


"Watching these former students on the course’s careers blossom is a joy,” says Tommy Smith. “I greatly respect and admire their musicianship and I am very proud of where they have taken their music. It’s also great to have the singer kitti and Helena Kay onboard as they are very much part of Scotland’s thriving young jazz scene.” 


The tests that these musicians were put through at the RCS weren’t the last challenges that their course director has given them. Fergus, Matt and Liam have been tasked with orchestrating, as well as composing, their contributions to Nu-Age Sounds, as has Helena. And while kitti and Noushy, whose compositions are being arranged by the Berlin-based saxophonist-composer Fabia Mantwill, and Ewan, whose piece is being orchestrated by long-time SNJO collaborator Florian Ross, they, too, have approached these concerts with no small sense of anticipation.


“Just to have Fabia Mantwill listen to one of my songs would be a big deal,” says kitti. “So to have this woman who has worked with Joni Mitchell’s orchestrator, Vince Mendoza, arrange three of them is very exciting.”


Another RCS student, the originator of Glasgow's Supersonic hip-hop and jazz nights Dillon Barrie has been responsible for Nu-Age Sounds' overall visual presentation with invaluable input from Daisy Mulholland, Connor McGhie and Niki Kaupa (aka Moventia). Each piece of music will be accompanied by a video tailored to each composition’s characteristics, created and executed by Niki who will be projecting moods and inspirations from the music onto many panels of wire-hung-shaped polymer across the front of the SNJO stages.


This is a vital component of the project for Tommy Smith in allowing the SNJO to reach out to a new audience, while keeping long-time supporters engaged also.


“I am confident that Nu-Age Sounds will be a standout tour for the SNJO’s ever-growing audience,” he says. “It's also vital for the orchestra to embrace the younger audience and to have the younger audience embrace what we do. These concerts are all about adopting a new focus and widening our musical horizons.”

sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement