SNJO combines with Ozone and RSNO in Rhapsodic adventure

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The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra reunites with Japanese piano virtuoso Makoto Ozone for concerts in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Aberdeen Music Hall from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th May.

For the Edinburgh and Glasgow concerts the SNJO and Ozone will join forces for the first time with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to play George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in a new, extended orchestration by SNJO artistic director, saxophonist Tommy Smith.

“This is a milestone in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s near thirty-year career,” says Smith, who also re-orchestrated the SNJO’s successful 2009 recording of Rhapsody in Blue. “To be invited to perform in collaboration with the internationally respected RSNO is an honour and a thrill. We’re very excited at the prospect of working with such an esteemed ensemble.”

Makoto Ozone | Photo by Kantaro Hisadomi

A former child prodigy, Kobe-born Makoto Ozone had already played a piano recital at Carnegie Hall, New York when, in 1983, he was invited to join American vibes virtuoso Gary Burton’s world touring quintet, in which he and Smith formed a lasting relationship.

“We’re delighted to be welcoming back Makoto, a real master and an old friend of the SNJO, to play on these concerts,” says Smith. “We’ve worked with him on quite a few projects now, including his jazz orchestration of Mozart’s Jeunehomme piano concerto and a tour of Japan when we performed Peter and the Wolf with Japanese screen actor Isao Hashizume in 2000-seat concert halls. We’re sure Makoto’s fantastic musicianship and pianistic skills will excite everyone who comes to hear him.”

The SNJO, with the outstanding Scottish pianist, Peter Johnstone, will also perform Duke Ellington’s Black & Tan Fantasy, Billy Strayhorn’s jazz arrangement of Morning Mood from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite and German composer Florian Ross’s arrangement of the West Side Story Suite in the concerts.

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

“In the second half of these concerts, the RSNO will be playing the suite from Alfred Hitchcock’s cinema classic Vertigo and their own version of West Side Story, which will feature SNJO musicians, drummer Alyn Cosker, trumpeter Ryan Quigley and saxophonist Helena Kay,” says Smith. “The two versions of West Side Story will allow the audience to contrast the different approaches and will make the programme all the more interesting, I’m sure.”

After the Edinburgh and Glasgow concerts, the SNJO and Makoto Ozone will perform Rhapsody in Blue in Aberdeen Music Hall on 5th May in a programme also including big band arrangements of music by Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Duke Ellington and Robert Burns.

Featured Image by: Yow Kobayashi

Last modified: April 8, 2024