TOMMY SMITH’S KARMA @ The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

This gig is all about way-cool jazz tempered with cultured blues, showcasing Tommy Smith’s 24th album ‘Karma’, a night of virtuoso musicianship and free-form but precise Keltic/Nordik, Middle and Far Eastern rhythms. Alyn Cosker (drums), home-coming local boy Steve Hamilton (keyboards), Kevin Glasgow (electric bass) and Smith (saxophones and shakuhatchi – go Google) – deliver an intricate assemblage event of natural intuition coordinated, controlled by scarcely perceptible glances across the stage. Opener ‘Cause and Effect’, an off-kilter, helter-skelter late-nite, neon-lit big-city road race, puts the hushed, captivated room on edge, before ‘Land of Heroes’ slowly emerges from a misty moor as a sax-led spectral, delicate motif  that stirs the blood, a lament for days and deeds long gone – strangely, a close cousin of The Proclaimers’ ‘Letter From America’. Understated control presides over the atmospherics of sound, dynamics and interaction where Arabian flavoured ‘Tomorrow’ with a fulgurant, sprawling solo on tenor saxophone, and the oriental/western fusion ‘Sun’ may just be…don’t groan, because they work wonderfully well…world music. ‘Body Or Soul’ showcases piano and synth from Hamilton, Cosker’s kinetic drumming and tenor sax from Smith, escalating from ambient Scottish folk into robust jazz energy. Tonight, Glasgow is a revelation, Hamilton versatile, Cosker studied and Smith a consummate leader.

Pete Innes